Massaging or grooming your horse will stimulate his nervous system, which will promote health and healing. Personally, I prefer massage over grooming when possible, as I believe that the heat and energy from your hands is of great benefit to your horse. A massage or grooming session should last somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour, and I recommend at least once a week if possible.
My book and DVD, Horse Massage for Horse Owners, teaches a full body massage routine that can be easily achieved by any horse owner. You can get your copy today from www.thehorsephysio.co.uk
Carrot stretches or similar are beneficial in maintaining spinal flexibility, which is important in overall health and comfort. You could consider giving your horse a joint supplement, this is something that you should discuss with your vet or a nutritionist. If pain relief is necessary, then I believe that we should do what we can to keep our older horses comfortable, on the advice of a vet of course.
It's important to keep your horse moving, and I am a great believer in horses staying in work if at all possible, even if this is walking gently around the lanes twice a week. As much turn out as possible is generally beneficial to allow your horse to keep moving, preferably with a companion, and with shelter from the sun, the rain, and the wind.
Talk to your dentist about how often you're older horses teeth should be checked, and discuss with your farrier whether it would be best for your horse to be barefoot, depending on your circumstances. Some vets perform yearly health MOTs for horses, and these are often worth taking advantage of. Cushings disease may be a factor for the older horse, again this should be discussed with your vet.
There are many tips and tricks available to help keep the older horse comfortable. I'd love to hear yours so that I can share them with others on my blog – please email me with your thoughts on sue (at) thehorsephysio.co.uk.
Sue Palmer, Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist