Quality of Life
Quality of Life
Quality of Life is an important consideration for any equine whatever their age health or circumstances. Both physical and psychological factors interact and accumulate to determine a horses overall quality of life making it sensitive and susceptible to change. Habitually observing our horses appearance demeanour behaviour mobility and bodily functions will give us important insights that can help us monitor their wellbeing.
Being aware of quality of life factors can help us to
Notice signs that a horse is feeling positive or negative in different circumstances
Think about ways we may be able to improve a horses quality of life
Recognise changes early so we can intervene when needed
Quality of life assessment becomes even more important as horses age or develop health problems. The effects of common conditions such as arthritis or PPID can usually be minimised and managed through veterinary support enabling the horse to continue enjoying a good quality of life often for several years. However even with medication and careful management chronic diseases will inevitably lead to a deterioration in quality of life over time and it is essential that we prevent that decline reaching a point where the horse begins to suffer.
No one knows a horse better than their owner but it can also be difficult to spot early signs of change when we are with a horse every day especially when we are very attached to them. Taking a systematic approach to monitoring quality of life is the best approach and the BHS have a great checklist available that covers a range of physical and behavioural quality of life indicators. The list is free to download here.
Capturing photos and video can also be useful to monitor aspects of quality of life such as stiffness mobility appearance and demeanour. Try keeping a note of unusual behaviours or physical observations tying in observations with the date and other factors such as weather conditions or changes to diet routine or exercise. These can help build a bigger picture of your horses quality of life and be helpful to share with your vet when managing chronic conditions.
Remember that a horses life is a 247 experience so we need to think about the time we are not with them. A horse that is uncomfortable or stiff first thing on a winter morning may have felt much worse in the middle of the night. Are