A recent article in Equus Magazine caught my attention, as the title was “The Science of Aging” and I am always interested in the research that is behind such an article. So I investigated further and came upon some very good work done by a researcher, Karyn Malinowski, PhD, at Rutgers Equine Science Center at Rutgers University. In a 2014 conference, she talked about the importance of the horse in the US economy and that, at that time, approx. 15% of the horse population was over the age of 20. She listed better nutrition and parasite control as contributing factors. Advancing age in horses is “often associated with declining body condition, muscle tone, aerobic capacity, thermoregulatory ability in response to acute exercise and general well-being”. “Advanced aging in horses is associated with decline in immune response and is characterized by increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, termed inflammageing, which has been linked to obesity”. Obesity is a real concern with our older horses, and she goes on to say horses over 20 years can improve aerobic performance, reduce body fat and help to restore insulin sensitivity and impact cortisol concentration post exercise in a positive way by regular, appropriate exercise. She then states, “physiological similarities between humans and horses allow for broad implications of equine exercise physiology in relation to aging and performance.”
Relevance: Much like humans as we age, your older horse will benefit from a good diet and regular exercise that is appropriate for them, keeping your horse healthier and stronger during their senior years (kind of like us. )
Research Article: Malinowski, Karen, Avenatti, Ryan, McKeever, Kevin. Ensuring Good Healthand Well-Being in the Aging Equine Population. Abstract from 2014 JAM, Kansas City, MO. p. 63.
Companion Article: Thomas, Heather Smith. “The Science of Aging”. Equus Feb. 2016, Issue