Last week, the Equine Science Center was well represented at the first Dorothy Havemeyer Foundation Equine Geriatric Workshop. That means that a bunch of scientists and veterinarians got together to talk about old horses – one of my favorite topics!
Representatives of the Center gave six lectures and two poster presentations during the four-day conference, which just goes to show how much your Equine Science Center emphasizes care of the older horse. Speakers reported on research happening in America, Australia, and the United Kingdom! Topics included inflammation and aging, lowered immunity and aging, and lower capacity for exercise of older horses. Older horses undergo similar ordeals that older humans go through, like diabetes and arthritis. Understanding aging in horses can help shed light on aging in humans!
Besides just talking about scientific data, the attendees of the conference tried to understand what it means to be “old.” When a horse is 12, is it old? What about when it is 20? What about 37?! I guess you could say it depends. It depends on how well the horse was taken care of when it was younger, how functional it is at its current age, and what its long-term health outlook is called. Those factors contribute to what we call “physiological age,” which is different than chronological age (the age you are in years). Remember, physiology is the study of how the systems of the body work, so physiological age takes into account how well these systems still work together when you compare horses (or humans) at different ages. That’s why I still feel like a spry, young 20-year-old! That also might be why sometimes my owner says I wear him out and that I am making him old quick!
Do you have any questions about aging horses? Email them to me at LordNelson@njaes.rutgers.edu.