SWAY BACKED OLDER HORSE

QUESTION: I am thinking of purchasing a 22 year old gelding. But he has something called a sway back. Does this mean he is not worth buying?

ANSWER: Many older horses (senior citizens actually) such as this boy are still a joy to ride and own. All we have to remember is to warm their muscles up slowly before a long ride and to not ride the heck out of them. Think of an "average" 75 year old person? They can go happily all day but not full blast.

I love older horses and have several by the way. Now as for "Sway Back", what that means as a horse ages, the muscle tone covering the back falls away with age. This produces a dip where the saddle fits. So a person must be very careful to use a good saddle pad (blanket) or maybe two to make sure the saddle fits the sway back of the horse. The saddle itself has to fit that particular horse so it doesn't pinch or annoy the horse's back. It is not classed as an unsoundness, just something that happens with age.

Two more important things: Always make sure that a horse Dentist or Vet keeps an old horses teeth in good shape every year. As many older horses need this. Older horses if not able to keep weight on them, need special feed for "Senior Equines" as well as yearly teeth care. Also remember that all living animals (including us) get "Arthritis" and work on making sure that it is medicated or taken care of by less hard riding and warming them up slowly when first heading out for a ride.

Buy him and have many more years of total and happy enjoyment.

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