When going to look at an older horse...
   

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When going to look at an older horse...

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  • Things to look for in an older horse
  • What to look for in an old horse

 
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    03-16-2011, 07:42 PM
  #1
Green Broke
When going to look at an older horse...

What does everybody generally look for?

What do you look for that would make you go "hmm, this horse might have some medical concerns in the near future" or "this horse looks like he will last another 10 years just fine."

Is there any way to do a soundness check yourself before you decide if its worth the next step of getting a vet out to check the horse over?

I would say I have an experienced eye, but I haven't ever really considered an older horse before. I always thought I wanted something young, but now I am finding a lot of nice older horses around with some really good training on them.
     
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    03-16-2011, 07:53 PM
  #2
Green Broke
What's older?
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    03-16-2011, 08:02 PM
  #3
Green Broke
Two 17 year old Thoroughbreds. One raced, one did not.
     
    03-16-2011, 09:55 PM
  #4
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by QHDragon    
Two 17 year old Thoroughbreds. One raced, one did not.
Personally, I don't consider 17 very old, but my guy was between 20-25 when we got him, 13 years ago and he is still going strong(aside from being a hard keeper and loosing weight every winter when there is no grass).
I can't really give much advice when it comes to what to look for, but I would suggest making sure they have all or most of their teeth, once they loose them it's very hard to keep weight of them, also check their eyes for any cloudiness which could mean cataracts. That's really the only thing I can think of, i'm not sure how to test for soundness, although i'm sure someone else on here can help with that
     
    03-16-2011, 11:10 PM
  #5
Started
I think it really varies by horse. Sometimes a basic chem panel can give you some ideas of what you are looking at - stuff like pre-cushings, low grade lymes, anything that is possible to be in blood but not (yet) be manifesting as physical symptoms.

Imo x-rays are out bc an older horse should and will show some arthritic changes as that is normal for age. Unless there's a specific old injury you want a closer workup done on, i'd pass on xrays. Even a basic PPE may be a waste if you are just looking for a pleasure horse as i'd assume there would be some stiffness until the horse warms up and so on.

You can check out my equi-eval site for some ideas on evaluating saddle fit and back soreness because an older horse may have old underlying back issues and you may be able to use that as a negotiating point to get a chiro visit (or a few) thrown in before the purchase or the cost of a few chiro visits taken out of the asking price.

One other thing a vet would be good for imo in a situation such as this is to evaluate teeth for actual age (though it's not an exact science) and determine what kind of dental work the horse may need in the future. Older horses can wear their teeth down and if not tended to regularly this can make them prone to mouth sores, bitting issues, reluctance under saddle, and so on and if they have not had their teeth tended to regularly can lead to issues such as colic (impaction) or choke from the inability to properly chew roughage before swallowing. In the earlier stages the horse may be able to chew enough to still swallow before they start dropping food out of their mouth when they eat. So a basic dental exam pre-purchase from a vet may be a good idea. If the horse needs their teeth done, again that's something that perhaps you can request be done prior to sale, or to use as a bargaining point on the asking price.

I'd like to add that I think it is WONDERFUL that you are considering an older horse - there are so many in need that it's nice to see them not forgotten. I've found older horses to be seasoned companions, happy to have a person to love them and willing to share their years of knowledge with their rider. Truly a gem to have in the barn as long as you do your do diligence and know the care your older horse needs prior to making that commitment so you can plan for your seasoned horse's care.

Best of luck to you!
     
    03-16-2011, 11:21 PM
  #6
Green Broke
Last month I adopted a horse that will turn 20 next month. He is a great horse & we "clicked" instantly, & are having so much fun gettting to know each other. Then I looked up my other's horses's papers & she is 19! That is the one jumping the log~neither horse has any stiffness or issues. They just enjoy life & love going out on the trail. I wouldn't even want to start out w/another youngster at this point. When I was searching I put 12 as the youngest I wanted to look at. And there are a LOT of free horses out there right now, but you have to know how to take care of a horse~most people want an experienced horse person for their "senior". Good luck!
     
    03-17-2011, 07:39 AM
  #7
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ82Sky    
i think it really varies by horse. Sometimes a basic chem panel can give you some ideas of what you are looking at - stuff like pre-cushings, low grade lymes, anything that is possible to be in blood but not (yet) be manifesting as physical symptoms.

Imo x-rays are out bc an older horse should and will show some arthritic changes as that is normal for age. Unless there's a specific old injury you want a closer workup done on, i'd pass on xrays. Even a basic PPE may be a waste if you are just looking for a pleasure horse as i'd assume there would be some stiffness until the horse warms up and so on.

You can check out my equi-eval site for some ideas on evaluating saddle fit and back soreness because an older horse may have old underlying back issues and you may be able to use that as a negotiating point to get a chiro visit (or a few) thrown in before the purchase or the cost of a few chiro visits taken out of the asking price.

One other thing a vet would be good for imo in a situation such as this is to evaluate teeth for actual age (though it's not an exact science) and determine what kind of dental work the horse may need in the future. Older horses can wear their teeth down and if not tended to regularly this can make them prone to mouth sores, bitting issues, reluctance under saddle, and so on and if they have not had their teeth tended to regularly can lead to issues such as colic (impaction) or choke from the inability to properly chew roughage before swallowing. In the earlier stages the horse may be able to chew enough to still swallow before they start dropping food out of their mouth when they eat. So a basic dental exam pre-purchase from a vet may be a good idea. If the horse needs their teeth done, again that's something that perhaps you can request be done prior to sale, or to use as a bargaining point on the asking price.

I'd like to add that I think it is WONDERFUL that you are considering an older horse - there are so many in need that it's nice to see them not forgotten. I've found older horses to be seasoned companions, happy to have a person to love them and willing to share their years of knowledge with their rider. Truly a gem to have in the barn as long as you do your do diligence and know the care your older horse needs prior to making that commitment so you can plan for your seasoned horse's care.

Best of luck to you!
I kind of figured that xrays would be a silly idea, and would likely be out of the budget. Now that you say all of this a PPE might be a complete waste of money. There is nothing that I couldn't check for myself other than the teeth thing. Teeth health is something that could probably be gauged just by asking when they had their last float. I find that a lot of people forget about the horse's teeth when it comes to care.

I am looking for a horse that will be sound enough to do BN eventing with, but these older horses have a lot of good training on them, which is making me re-evaluate what I really want to do, which has always been more dressage than jumping. I like jumping just for fun, but I'm not sure how much I would really want to heavily show in eventing.

However, whenever I look at MIE's Nelson I rethink ALL of my preconceived notions of what an older horse can do.

Older horses have a lot to offer. I find that a lot of horse people I talk to start to brush off or discount horses after they reach 15.
     
    03-17-2011, 08:32 AM
  #8
Weanling
I bought my guy at 21 years old 6 months ago. He's lived in my barn for about 7 years, and his owner has had him, and two other horses boarded there, for 11 years. I was lucky enough to know a lot of his history, but I still had senior blood work done, along with a dental exam, and an all over wellness exam. I just wanted to know his current state of health and if there was anything that we need to keep an eye on. At 17, I don't know how concerned I would be with the senior blood work, but talk to your vet and ask what types of things they would recommend.
     
    03-17-2011, 10:26 AM
  #9
Foal
I would see what the horse is on, any supplements. Xrays definitely! My old guy was 19 and still coursing 3'6 easily. I would ask around and see if the horses have had any issues. FULL vet work-up however..
     
    03-17-2011, 11:26 AM
  #10
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xela    
I would see what the horse is on, any supplements. Xrays definitely! My old guy was 19 and still coursing 3'6 easily. I would ask around and see if the horses have had any issues. FULL vet work-up however..
That's pretty amazing. Any tips or tricks you have?
     

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