National survey explores the management and health of older horses in the US

Researchers hope to learn more about the special needs of American horses aged 15 and over in a nationwide online survey.

Surprisingly little is known about the management and health status of these horses, even though they make up a significant portion of the US equine population.

The survey is being conducted by the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center.

Eligible survey participants should own one or more horses that currently live in the US.

While the survey focuses on horses, including ponies, aged 15 years and older, owners of younger horses are also invited to participate.

The survey takes between three and 25 minutes to complete. It will be available until November 20.

The survey project is coordinated by Alisa Herbst, a doctoral candidate at the Gluck Center in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, who is concentrating on the aging process of horses.

She is being supervised by assistant professor Amanda Adams, a specialist working with geriatric horses.

“The main goal of this survey is to create a management and health profile of US horses aged 15-plus years,” Herbst said.

“By applying the insights that we gather from the survey, and other work in my PhD, I hope that we can provide improved support for those managing horses of this age group.”

Others collaborators on the include Adams; Patricia Harris, professor, veterinarian and director of science at Mars Horsecare and head of the equine studies group at the Waltham Petcare Science Institute; Michelle Coleman, veterinarian and assistant professor at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; and Erica Macon, a doctoral candidate at the Gluck Center.

The study is being sponsored by Mars Equestrian.

David Horohov, who is chairman of the Department of Veterinary Science and director of the Gluck Center, said researchers are excited about the information the survey will provide.

“While much beloved by their owners, we still know very little about the specific needs of this population.”

He said he appreciated the backing for the project provided by Mars Equestrian for this effort.