Saturday, January 17, 2015

Caring for Our Older Horse

Our dear sweet Tennessee Walker, Little Man, is over thirty-five years old. He has Cushing's disease and arthritis. His teeth are worn and many are missing and he doesn't see as well as he used to. He grows a very long curly coat that we have to clip and trim regularly. We don't ride him anymore and he really prefers to just stay in his pasture with his two mini-donkey friends. We give him pergolide every day for his Cushings and put glucosamine and MSM in his feed. His diet during the growing season is fresh grass supplemented with a little senior feed in the morning. During the winter we feed him hay. Last year the hay was poor and we noticed he was losing weight. So we started feeding him more senior feed supplemented with soaked beet pulp. That got him through the winter and he bulked up again on the pasture over the summer.

This winter the hay was much better quality, but he started losing weight anyway. Once again we started feeding him senior feed with beet pulp and oil twice a day. We also started measuring him with a weight tape every week. The weight loss slowed, but we still weren't pleased with his condition. So hubby spent some time reading about old horse nutrition and came home one day with a bag of alfalfa cubes. We soaked a handful in warm water for a few hours and took it out to Little Man. He loved it!
So now, three times a day, we feed him several pounds of senior feed with beet pulp and oil in one bucket and well soaked alfalfa cubes in another bucket. He never leaves a speck behind. He comes across the pasture just as fast as he can when we head out to the barn and he calls to us if we take too long to come out and feed him. The change in him is remarkable. In just one week he has put back on a substantial amount of weight, is moving faster, and is much livelier.

Isn't this a lot of work for an old horse? You bet it is. But he is a dear friend and helped one of our children through a tough time in life. We will do what it takes to make his golden years the best we can make them. I know there are many of you who can relate to this.

Love you, Little Man.


  1. What a sweet story. Wish everybody looked after their animals so well. We don't have a horse but can relate with dogs that we have loved through the years.

    1. I can't remember if I replied to your comment or not! But thanks for the kind words, and caring for our aging animals is a privilege. They add so much to our lives.