New survey results confirm UK’s loyalty to senior horses - Veterinary Practice
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New survey results confirm UK’s loyalty to senior horses

Bravo to all the owners out there who are giving their seniors their best lives

A new survey conducted by the makers of SPILLERS earlier this year has confirmed the UK’s loyalty and passion for senior horses and ponies. The survey was completed by more than 5,000 owners and carers earlier this year. The results mirror the findings of the feed brand’s 2022 survey, reiterating just how much the nation loves their precious equine oldies.

Longevity: 37 percent of respondents have horses aged 25 years or older, with 65 percent considering their horses as senior at 20+ years. The results are helping the feed company understand how they can continue to best support seniors nutritionally to help them live longer, healthier lives. 

Loyalty: according to the survey, participants are extremely loyal to their seniors with 62 percent having owned their senior for 11+ years. A staggering 99.5 percent of participants expressed their intention to keep their senior horse for the remainder of its life, highlighting a deep commitment to their well-being.

Health and activity: despite their age, senior horses remain primarily healthy and active, with 80 percent considered to be in good condition. Eight percent were classified as overweight, and 12 percent as underweight (10 percent and 12 percent, respectively in 2022). However, common age-related issues such as stiffness, arthritis, PPID, dental issues and laminitis were reported, reflecting the importance of specialised care and nutrition.

  • 44 percent showed signs of stiffness or arthritis
  • 17 percent had pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID)
  • 19 percent experienced dental issues 
  • 12 percnt were prone to laminitis 

Retirement: in terms of exercise, 62 percent were still in heavy work, but 75 percent were doing light work or slowing down. Retirement was common around the ages of 21-25, with almost a third of respondents specifying this age range. The most frequently cited reason for retirement, at 38 percent, was that it just felt like the right time for them to retire.

Nutritional Support: the results suggest that owners are increasingly recognising the importance of tailored nutrition for senior horses. An additional 5 percent of owners opted for senior-specific feeds vs the 2022 results. Notably, 62 percent of these respondents preferred senior mash, suggesting there may be a preference for soaked feed options to support ageing equine health.

“It is heart-warming to see that we are such a compassionate nation, giving so much care and devotion to our special oldies,” said Claire Dyett, marketing manager for the SPILLERS brand. “It is also reassuring to see that our latest survey accurately reflects the findings from our previous work, which provides some very robust data for this important sector of the equine industry.

“Bravo to all the owners out there who are giving their seniors their best lives. The latest survey shows a higher percentage of respondents with horses of more than 25 years old and, encouragingly, data comparisons show that almost 2 percent fewer respondents had overweight horses – we hope our SPILLERS Slimmers’ Club may be responsible in part for this! 

“Improved veterinary care and nutrition mean that we are better placed to manage conditions such as arthritis, PPID, and dental issues. An 8 percent increase in feeding a mash suggests that owners may be recognising the suitability of soaked feed presentations to support senior health, particularly when dentition becomes compromised. It’s by working together that we can continue to enhance health, welfare and quality of life and turn age into just a number!”

The SPILLERS brand has a history of respect and admiration for senior horses, which is reflected in their ongoing international research projects. For more than twenty years, the brand, via the WALTHAM Equine Studies Group, has been involved with many research collaborations that bring together world-leading equine veterinary, nutrition and research experts to support the well-being, performance and longevity of senior horses and ponies. 

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