Horse Lifespan: Everything You Need To Know


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If you’re finally ready to get a horse, you may want to look into a variety of things before choosing the breed of horse you purchase. One of the things you may wish to consider is the lifespan. The length of life your horse will have can strongly influence your decision because you’ll surely want to keep your horse in the family for a long time.

There are also many things you can do to help keep your horse healthy, which will extend his life, so be sure to keep these things in mind as well as you consider the type of horse you’re getting.

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You can expect a healthy horse that’s been well-cared for to love more than 25 years. Larger breeds typically live shorter lives than smaller breeds, though there have been some record breaker horses like an Irish Draught horse name Shayne, who lived to be 51 years old.

The oldest horse lifespan recorded is Old Billy, an English stallion who lived for 62 years.

The other longest horse lifespans that have been recorded include Sugar Puff, a 56-year-old Shetland-Exmoor, Orchid, an Arabian/Thoroughbred cross who lived to be 50 years old.

Ponies often reach into their 40s, while draught horses typically only make it to around 20 years old.

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Horse lifespan figures vary significantly and aren’t generally listed by breed. However, from the research we did, and the information we could assess based on the longest-living horses, and the average horse lifespans we could find recorded, these are horse breeds that have some of the longest length lives on average.

One of the most noted long lifespans for horses goes to the Arabian horse. They typically appear to live between 25 and 30 years, with many living much longer, into their 40s. The healthier the lifestyle these horses live, the longer their lifespans typically will be. Some studies have shown that Arabians are actually in the top five longest-living horse breeds on average, though ponies typically live longer.

Arabian horses are very hardy breed and are smaller in stature than Warmbloods and Draught horses who tend to live short lifespans. The assumption is the size difference also makes the difference in years lived.

This breed of horse originated in the Arabian Peninsula and has a distinct head shape and high tail carriage. This particular breed of horse is one of the most easily recognized breeds on visual inspection because of these unique features.

Arabian horses were developed in desert climates and were prized highly be Bedouin people, and often considered a part of the family. At times, these horses were even brought into the family tents of their owners to provide protection and shelter for them, both from weather issues and from possible theft.

Arabian horses are quick learners, very willing to please, and extremely good-natured. This means that their owners must handle them with particular competence and respect.

Arabian horse bloodlines are actually found in almost every modern breed of riding horse.

Another long horse lifespan goes to the American Quarter Horse. These horses often live into their 30s and even 40s and are highly competent, active horses their whole lives, if they are well cared for.

Quarter Horses are excellent at short sprinting distances, and easily outpace other horse breeds in races that are a quarter mile or less, which is a part of the reason this breed has been given this name. Some of the fastest speeds have actually been clocked at 55 miles per hour on these short distances.

The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States currently, and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world. In 2014, there were nearly 3 million living American Quarter Horses registered.

Quarter Horses are excellent for rodeos, horse shows, and working on ranches and situations like horse camp for children. They’re used for ranch work, but they’re also excellent in English disciplines, driving, and other equestrian competitive activities.

Quarter Horses have a small, short, and refined head with a straight profile. They have strong, muscled bodies, featuring a broad chest and powerful, and rounded hindquarters. They’re usually between 14 and 16 hands high, though some may grow as large as 17 hands.

There are two builds of Quarter Horses: hunter/racing Quarter Horses, and stock. Stock horses are shorter and more compact, while racing/hunter Quarter Horses are usually taller and have a smoother muscled build, and may resemble Thoroughbreds.

Another American breed, the Appaloosa is known for its colorful spotted coat. These horses live an average of 25 to 30 years, though often live as long as 40+ years.

Appaloosas have a wide variety of body types within the breed since they’re a cross-breed of multiple breeds over time. Appaloosas are one of the most popular horse breeds in the United States and are even named the official state horse of Idaho.

These horses are best known as stock horses but are a versatile breed that works well within both the English and the Western riding disciplines. They’re also very popular for working with on film and television sets and are many times used as animal mascots for things such as university sports teams.

Appaloosas are known for their leopard complex-spotted coat and may have several overlay patterns. They distinctively have three characteristics including striped hooves, eyes with white sclera, and mottled skin.

Appaloosas typically have a convex facial profile, that looks similar to the warmblood-Jennet crosses that were first developed in the 16th Century during the time of Charles V. Many of the modern horses have a full mane and tail, though their ancestors usually were much sparser.

Thoroughbreds are known for being racehorses. Some think the name Thoroughbred means purebred, and in some cases, it may be used in that manner, this is an actual breed. True Thoroughbreds are considered “hot-blooded” horses and are known for their speed, spirit, and agility.

The lifespan for Thoroughbreds is typically between 25 and 30 years. They can live into their 40s, though 30s is more common.

These gorgeous horses are mainly used for racing, show jumping, dressage, polo, fox hunting, and combined training. Thoroughbred racehorses tend to perform at maximum exertion, which unfortunately often means they have a high accident rate and health problems.

Thoroughbred horses usually stand between 15.2 and 17 hands high, though their average size is 16 hands. They are usually bay colored, dark brown, chestnut, dark bay, black, or gray. They less commonly come in roan and palomino colorings, or the very rare white coloring.

As we mentioned above, smaller horses are actually likely to have the longest lifespans. Technically, that means pony breeds will have longer lives than full-size horse breeds. Their average lifespan is longer than 30 years, and can easily last into their late 40s if they are well cared for with healthy diets.

Shetland ponies are one of the ponies that typically have one of the longest horse lifespans of all. This particular pony is especially hardy and has a heavy coat, short legs, and extremely high intelligence. They’re used for riding, driving, and pack purposes, because they’re very strong, sturdy animals.

These ponies originated in the Shetland Isles of Scotland. Their minimum height is 28 inches, which is 7 hands, and their maximum height is 42 inches, which is 10.2 hands, at the withers. They have smaller heads, sometimes with dishes faces and widely spread eyes. They have small, alert ears, and usually look very attentive and have an intelligent look about them.

Shetland ponies are also the strongest of all horse and pony breeds proportionately. They can pull twice their own weight under circumstances where draught horses can only pull half their weight.

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There are several ways to help your horse lifespan go towards the long run. You’ll need to take care of him or her very well, with proper nutrition, regular medical checkups, and in other ways.

Minimize Stress

Many horses have a difficulty with anxiety and stress. They spook easily, they may become uncomfortable and nervous around strangers or strange animals, or in other situations.

Too much stress for your horse can cause ulcers, bad behavior, diarrhea, depression, or even a compromised immune system. It would be impossible to keep stress totally out of your horse’s life, but there are ways to ways to keep stress levels down.

  • Don’t ask your horse to live alone. They need companions for many reasons. If you can’t afford a second horse, consider boarding your horse with other horses at a barn or a friend’s home.
  • Try to view the world from her perspective – horses are technically prey and herd animals, and that may significantly increase their stress. Helping your horse feel secure may help in this area of stress.
  • Be patient with your horse while training – your patience will greatly reduce your horse’s stress levels both on the trail, in the ring, and back home in the stable.
  • Prepare your horse for new experiences by slowly introducing her to them.
  • Give your horse time to unwind and just relax while they graze, hang out with other horses, roll around, and run loose in their paddocks.

Your horse’s health is important to keep an active eye on. Annual checkups will help you do that. Even if money is tight, you’ll want to stick to this plan, as annual check-ups can actually help prevent any minor issues from becoming something much bigger and more expensive in the long run. Plus, your horse will feel better if her minor issues are caught and treated early on.

You’ll also need to have your horse get annual vaccinations. Your vet may recommend others as well, but at a minimum, they’ll need vaccines for:

  • Influenza/Rhinopneumonitis

Horses need roughage like hay and pasture grass to stay healthy. And though it may be cheaper and easier to purchase cheap hay, you can put your horse’s health at risk if you go with junk hay, just like a human’s health is compromised by junk-food. High-end grains, complexes, and hay will have a huge impact on your horse’s lifespan and overall health.

Take Proper Care Of Your Horse’s Teeth

Horses have teeth that need to be filed down semi-often. Your vet can easily examine your horse’s teeth and know when to file them down, and they can identify other mouth health issues, including abscessed and loose teeth.

Take Care Of Your Horse’s Hooves

Healthy hooves and legs are vital for your horse’s basic health. You’ll also not be able to ride your horse if her hooves are in bad shape. Horses stand nearly their entire lives, so their leg and foot health really is vital to them living a long life. Keep their hooves cleaned properly, and make sure the foods they’re eating provide the proper nutrients for healthy hoof growth.

Be sure to engage a good farrier for regular check-ups for your horse’s hooves as well, and stick to any kind of hoof-care schedule they give you.

Deworm Your Horse Regularly

Internal parasites wreak havoc on your horse’s internal organs. Deworming is inexpensive and easy-to-do. You can find the supplies and instructions at your local tack and feed store or order them from catalogs or internet retailers. Just follow the instructions as written on the de-wormer.

Daily Exercise Your Horse

Horses are made to move all day long, even just taking little steps while they naturally graze for hours. When they’re in their stalls, they stand still, and they don’t get the activity necessary.

It’s important to make sure your horse isn’t cooped up all day, but get him out into the paddock and get moving. This will help keep his legs and feet health, as well as their entire internal situation, as well as his attitude.

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The average horse lifespan is anything from 15 to 40 years. The size of your horse will have some impact on how long he’ll live. The type(s) of food he eats, the medical, dental, and foot care he gets will also greatly impact the length of his life.

If you give him the highest quality food, whether that’s the grass you plant in your paddock or the best grain complexes, and you keep your horse active and moving, you’ll likely be able to keep your horse around for many years.

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