Living well into their golden years

We all know horses are now living longer but to ensure their golden years are as golden as can be, Becky from Haygain looks at how ComfortStall and hay steaming can help. If you own a young horse or one in its prime you might be thinking this article is irrelevant to you but think again…prevention is key and it’s best to start early!

Becky James 
Technical Director at Haygain, 21/02/2020

It’s believed one year of a horse’s life is equal to an average of three years of a human life.

This would mean that a 15-year-old horse could be compared to a 45-year-old person. Advancing age tends to usher in a multitude of problems from arthritis to respiratory problems but with a little management and extra care, older horses can lead healthy, useful lives well into their golden years.

Let’s take a closer look at how this can achieved with the help of ComfortStall sealed, padded rubber flooring and Haygain hay steamers.

As horses get older, they tend to have stiff joints and move less freely than when they were younger, this is particularly true for horses that have worked hard. Whether the joint dysfunction is due to arthritis, injury, or just general wear and tear, pain and inflammation is common in older horses. This can mean they are uncomfortable, especially when stabled as being sedentary allows them to stiffen up.


ComfortStall’s strong, yet springy orthopaedic foam, “gives” under the weight of the horse providing comfort and support to those ageing joints and offers recumbent whole-body support when they lie down.

The thermal insulation properties of ComfortStall protect from cold and damp concrete bases while also stay cool in high temperatures which is particularly helpful to senior horses as they may not be able to regulate their body temperature as well as they could when they were younger. 

Stable air quality is greatly improved because the sealed impermeable one-piece Ironclad™ Top Cover design prevents the build-up of urea, bacteria and the resulting harmful ammonia. Coupled with the fact less bedding can be used this minimises exposure to dust in the stable to help prevent and manage respiratory problems which are common in older horses. 

Used in conjunction with Haygain hay steamers which are scientifically proven to eliminate up to 99% of respirable dust and kill mould and bacteria in hay will ensure your horse is fed hygienically clean hay and again minimise exposure to dust.

 The arthritic mare Ellie now emerges from her stable relatively agile, rather than “nearly tipping over out of stiffness,” says Carline who installed ComfortStall for all her retired horses.  

Hay steaming  

Senior horses face a higher risk of colic, so keep an eye on their water intake. Steaming hay has been shown to increase 3X moisture content so will also help get more fluid in.

Apart from anything else, it’s comforting to give freshly steamed, warm hay to your older horse. It is very palatable and often* softer in texture with many owners of older horses reporting they find it easier to chew than dry or soaked hay.

If you own a young horse or one in it’s prime you might be thinking this article is irrelevant to you but think again…prevention is key and it’s best to start early!

From the perspective of joints, arthritis is seen as a condition of ageing, mainly because its first outward signs tend to show up later in life. But in many cases, the factors that lead to the condition are at work in the way a horse is managed, fed and ridden for years before. At all times of life, for all horses regular, appropriate exercise on suitable footing is important as is rest and recovery afterwards.

It’s true also for the respiratory system, lung function can’t be improved through training like muscles can but damage to the lungs leads to the development of scar tissue and results in loss of function. Prolonged exposure to high concentrations of respirable dust consistently found in dry hay will compromise the respiratory system and impede lung function.

ComfortStall orthopaedic flooring and Haygain hay steamers help to prevent and manage respiratory disease in horses and help them recover from exercise comfortably.

*can vary between grass types

A “360-degree turnaround” was triggered within two to three days of starting on steamed hay and his coughing has completely disappeared," says Alexis owner of a veteran Mustang who had extensive and irreparable damage of his airways.

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