Senior Horse/Aging - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 01-14-2013, 09:42 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Raeford, NC
Posts: 9
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Senior Horse/Aging

I have an Appaloosa that we believed was about 19 based on the info the prev owner gave us when we adopted him. Because of new behaviors and some health issues our vet now thinks he may be more in the 25ish range. Buck is beginning to lay down alot and goes into such a deep sleep it is difficult to tell he is alive! We've been able to actually walk right up to him and shake him awake, only to get a head in our lap and request for petting. Which is weird. Buck was a rescue that was horribly treated, he is extremely (was) headshy, and was never open to any type of real affection. We've battled all sorts of health issues over the years, currently IBS. My question is for aging/senior horse owners and owners of horses that have passed away due to age. Can you give me some insight on changes in their behavior? Buck is wanting in early, sunning alot, has some arthritis, his eating habits are different, he doesn't exercise as much and is more affectionate. He was a very dominant horse and suddenly he has mellowed. Thanks!
Robtouw is offline  
post #2 of 6 Old 01-14-2013, 09:59 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: small town in NC
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I have had the pleasure of having 4 senior horses in my life, 2 of which are still with us and 2 that have passed on.

My old guy Elmo , who was also a resuce, would go into deep sleep like you say your guys does. He was deaf as a post and if my old mare Cheyeene did not nudge him awake when it was time to feed then we would have to go out there and shake him awake.
We knew that it was getting close to his time when we noticed that he was sleeping more and more ... and he started to have a hard time getting up, he started to seem less than thrilled about his feed and would walk away from dinner (the vet did check him and everything medically was fine).
Then one day we came out and he was down and just was not able to get back up, he had REALLY bad arthritis in his front legs and a very old injury to his back leg that was never treated and just left to heal so he was gimpy. We decided that he had been thru enough in his life and that it was time to let him go, so we made the call.

Now as for the dominant to mellow change that might just be due to age... my daughters mare, who is now 36 years old, was the QUEEN B in the pasture no matter how many horses or ho big they where, funny to see a 14.1 hand mare boss a 17 hard Percheron around, but over the past few years she has just mellowed out. I think that she is just to old to care about who is in charge anymore, she will still stand up for herself and get her point across loud and clear if she needs to

Good luck with your guy and glad that he found a home with you
leapoffaithfarm is offline  
post #3 of 6 Old 01-14-2013, 10:22 AM
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Chula Vista, CA
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So sorry you are going through this. It's so hard. I put down my QH mare this past summer. She was 21. She was a crazy alpha mare. She did get more mellow with the horses the last year or so. I'm not sure if she became more comfortable, was getting too old or was in too much pain. She developed ringbone in both front feet. She would still squeal or briefly charge the other horses, but not like she used to.

I retired her a year before she died. Her behavior changed when I would saddle her or just have her out of her pasture. She had ringbone in the one foot at that point. When I would try to saddle her, she would spin in circles. When I would lead her, she seemed like she had a ghost following her and was spooky. She was a spooky horse, but this was different, she was just unsettled/paranoid almost. I questioned horse dementia?

I began wondering if I would 'know' when it was time. After all, she wasn't so bad for it to be obvious to me. And then, I just knew....I stood with her one day and she was silent and still....just standing with me, her head in my arms. She had the ringbone in both fronts and I could see her in pain. The other horses would run around and she would just stand there, unable to join. She seemed sad.

I don't remember her laying around more. I can say, however, my dog who we put down two months later, did show some of that laying down constantly stuff. We didn't realize she was deaf too at that point. We thought she was ignorning us because she was old and set in her ways. She was arthritic and wouldn't go up stairs. She would lay around and sometimes whine...probably due to pain. We were unable to console her with her being deaf now too. It was time.

It may be hard to see at first, but you will be able to figure the big picture out when the time is needed, I think. It's so hard when they get old.
Oldhorselady is offline  
post #4 of 6 Old 01-14-2013, 11:09 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: New Mexico
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Its a part of life.
My boss horse, once he realized the youngens challenged him more, let his " assistant" take care of them, doing the physical reprimanding. He never really got old and tired, tho. Just calmer with age. He left me due to heart failure, completely out of the blue, when he was 26. Was kicking, bucking, rearing up to the end.
With your guy, I would check his diet. He might have trouble utilizing his ration, it might need tweaking.
deserthorsewoman is offline  
post #5 of 6 Old 01-14-2013, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Raeford, NC
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So far Buck has shown no signs of pain and his arthritis is not very prominent, just some light popping as he gets up. He is sleeping more and more both indoors & in his stall. Occassionally he still does a little racking to show off but not often. Several times my hubby did think he had died, scared the crap out of him! He climbed the fence and literally shook the mess out of Buck to wake him. I would prefer for him to fall asleep in the sunshine and not wake up rather then any sort of long painfull ending. He's a funny horse, very serious and not bothered by much. There are other signs as well but I just needed some suggestions on what to watch for or ways to make his day easier. I no longer ride him, more so out of respect for his age then his ability. He no longer throws a fit when I take my Arab out and leave him behind, in the past I would stall him because he was so angry for being left behind. His coat is beautiful, brillant copper and his weight is holding.
Robtouw is offline  
post #6 of 6 Old 01-14-2013, 11:32 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: New Mexico
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If he doesn't have any physical problem maybe keeping his job would perk him up. Sometimes they are just like retired people who have a sense of " not worth anything" when not working......
deserthorsewoman is offline  

aging , senior

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