Reasons for performing study: With growing numbers of aged horses, geriatric medicine is becoming increasingly important in equine veterinary practice; however, there is a paucity of information on the UK equine geriatric population.
Objectives: To describe the demographic characteristics of the equine geriatric population and to assess management practices undertaken by owners of geriatric horses (aged≥15 years).
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted, surveying a randomly selected sample of veterinary registered owners with horses aged≥15 years, using a self-administered postal questionnaire.
Results: Horses aged≥15 years represented 29% of the equine population in the study area. The response rate to the questionnaire survey was 80.2%. Management practices were similar to those previously described for the general equine population. However, the level of exercise and feeding practices changed significantly with increasing age. A summary of the demographic characteristics, feeding and management of horses in a sample of the geriatric equine population is presented.
Conclusions and potential relevance: The management of geriatric horses has a direct effect on their health and welfare and this study has provided valuable information on the demographics and management of geriatric horses and ponies in the UK. The information can be used to form targeted owner education programmes for geriatric health and should aid in the investigation and prevention of disease.
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