How Long Does a Horse Live? [Average Horse Lifespan]
If you ever wondered about owning a horse or you have a horse now, you probably have thought about how long a horse lives.
Well, as a happy horse lover I thought the same thing so did some checking and I will share the results with you right now! So keep reading!
An average horse can be expected to live around 25 to 30 years. However, many horses have lived much longer and you will find a range of answers based on who you ask. Old Billy, born in 1760, is created with being the oldest horse ever, living an incredible 62 years. Modern medicine is helping to increase horse lifespans.
There are many factors that determine how long your horse will live. Some of them you can control, like diet and exercise. Others, you cannot such as their genes and heredity but it’s still good to be aware of these things.
The more information you know, the longer you can keep your friend alive and well.
Horse Age vs. Human Age
There is no direct correlation between horse age and human age. For about the first six years of a horse’s life, they are considered in their infancy to preschooler states. They reach full physical maturity at around five years old. This would be equivalent to about 24 human years.
A horse’s adulthood will last between five and 20 years. At 20 years old, a horse is the equivalent of a human senior (60 years old). At this point, they will start to slow down and may experience more health issues as they age. 30 years old is considered extremely old for a horse though, again, it is very possible with good care.
As with humans, in its old age, your horse will require more care. They’ll be more prone to injury and disease so be prepared to be more attentive as they age. A horse can make a great pet and become a part of your family but being prepared and accepting the responsibility is key for their longevity and happiness.
Factors Affecting a Horse’s Lifespan
A horse’s lifespan is affected by many different factors. Taking proper care of them will add years to their life. Genetics play a huge role in a horse’s life and development. For example, as with humans, having a family history of a certain health problem can put a horse at risk of developing that same health problem. A horse’s heredity is key to their long-term health.
Certain characteristics can affect how long a horse lives, such as sex and breed. A study from the University of Lyon in France showed that, in a majority of mammal species, females tend to live longer.
This probably includes horses since horses are mammals. There also sees slight variations in lifespan among different breeds of horses as well.
It is important to be aware of and understand the factors that play a role in the lifespan of your horse. If you know their health risks, you are better prepared to fight them.
We will also talk about factors that you do control so that you can provide your horse with the best care possible.
Some of these include nutrition, exercise, disease prevention, and socialization.
It is important to know a little bit about a horse’s digestive system so that you understand the importance of diet. They have small stomachs (2 to 4 gallons) and no gall bladder. The gall bladder is normally used to produce bile. This is a liquid that the body uses to break down fatty acids in the diet.
If a horse is fed too much or given the wrong food, they could be at risk for building up toxins in their system. Horses are also unable to vomit. So, overeating would cause abdominal pain and digestive upset.
It could also put them at risk for developing diseases such as laminitis (see below).
What Should a Horse Eat?
SPANA (Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) says that horses should be fed small amounts of food frequently. Natural instincts in horses have them grazing on grass throughout the day.
You should provide a variety of dry foods, such as grass and hay. For horses needing more energy reserves (ex. pregnant, nursing, old, young), your vet may recommend feeding concentrates.
These are precise mixtures of various types of grains. Horses also enjoy a nice salt lick (solid block of salt they lick on) and various fruits and veggies as snacks.
Water is absolutely critical for a horse’s health. In fact, horses drink about 5 to 10 gallons throughout the day. You should warm up the water a bit during the winter to encourage them to drink. Otherwise, they may become dehydrated. Your horse should not, however, drink immediately after eating as this could cause a blockage in their system.
What Should a Horse NOT Eat?
Though horses love a nice piece a fruit every now and then, you shouldn’t give them too much. Excess fruit and treats will cause various health problems, such as obesity. Make sure any fruit you give them have the pits removed (if they have pits).
Other foods that you should avoid feeding include chocolate and other high-sugar foods, bread and pastries, meat, cabbage-family veggies, potatoes, tomatoes, garden waste, and brans. Also make sure their hay does not have any mold, dust, or other debris.
Like people, horses also need a decent amount of exercise to stay healthy. Many owners make the mistake of leaving their horse in its stall for too long. Not only will proper exercise give your horse a long life but it will give them a great quality of life as well.
If possible, horses should be able to walk freely 24 hours a day. But this isn’t always an option, which is totally fine. You just need to ensure that you give them enough time during the day to exercise. You can still leave them in their stall during the night.
Give your horse plenty of free-roaming time throughout the day. Also, make sure you engage them in exercise several times a day. For instance, Dr. David Ramey, the owner of Ramey Equine in LA, says that exercising twice a day for 20 minutes each time is a great place to start.
There are many different exercises that work well for horses. These build muscle strength and immune health. Some great horse exercises are lunging, trail riding, hill climbs, interval training, and obstacle courses.
Though these are technically exercises, and we all know working out isn’t always the most fun thing to do, these activities are actually quite entertaining. Your horse will enjoy the activity, you will have fun riding them, and the two of you will bond throughout this experience.
Dangers of Overworking
But you also need to remember not to overwork your horse. It may be fun to engage in these activities but they need time to rest like any other living creature. Going too hard in their workouts can have some seriously detrimental effects on a horse’s health.
Research has shown that overworking a horse can lead to issues with their heart, musculoskeletal (muscles and bones) system, and immune system. Unfortunately, it is also very difficult for them to recover from these conditions.
A damaged body and weakened immune system will put your horse at risk for becoming ill.
Of course, proper nutrition and exercise will boost your horse’s immune system. This helps to provide natural protection against various diseases.
However, you also have some responsibility in keeping your horse healthy. Good horse care includes routine check-ups and knowing about the common health issues that horses experience.
One major component of disease prevention is giving your horse routine vet care. It’s just like it is with any other type of pet.
Ideally, a horse should see the vet at least twice a year. That said, you can’t go wrong with more frequent routine exams. You also need to keep them up to date on their vaccines, which they receive every spring and fall.
This helps protect them against viruses and other serious health conditions.
Annual exams can be comprehensive. Your equine vet will check their vital signs and dental condition, perform a lameness test, and determine a fecal egg count (indicates bacteria).
In addition, horses that are old, young, pregnant, or have chronic health conditions will likely receive specialized care plans.
There are many common medical conditions that your horse could experience. There is no need to panic about them but you should be aware of what they look like. This way, you can identify them early and get them treated.
Common Horse Health Problems Include
- Worms & Parasites
- Hoof Problems
- Skin Irritations, Insect Bites
- Cough, Cold & the Flu
- Sleeping Sickness (transmitted by mosquitoes)
- Infections, Swelling, Strange Odor
- West Nile Virus
- Sand Colic
Common skin conditions are ringworm, rainscald, mud fever, cracked heels, and sweet itch. Common symptoms of skin conditions include lesions, hair loss, scabs, inflammation, cracked skin, and excessive itching.
Skin conditions can be prevented with proper hygiene, wound cleaning, access to dry areas and shelter, brushing, and parasite control.
What are Horses Allergic to?
|Topical Ointments or Treatments|
Respiratory conditions, such as cough and common colds, with a clean stable (ex. dust-free), good air ventilation, and clean, freshwater.
Colic and laminitis are two other common health problems. Again, proper nutrition and health maintenance will prevent these issues.
You’ll notice symptoms like coughing, wheezing, discharge from the eyes and nose, fever, sweating, issues with urination or bowel movements, high pulse rate, and various unusual behavior.
In general, it can’t hurt to ask a vet if you ever have concerns. Always call as soon as you notice anything strange or unusual. Also, make sure that sick horses are quarantined from healthy horses to prevent the spread of disease.
Having the right horse enclosure actually affects the mental and physical health of your horse a lot. They need access to shelter in order to prevent illness and access to a nice, big pasture so that they can exercise. You’ll also need to consider any possible environmental hazards in their pen.
Make sure the floor has a non-slip surface to prevent injury. Horses also enjoy laying down and need a soft, warm area to do so. Bedding, such as hay, is a great choice. Check that nothing in the stable has sharp edges or poses a risk of injury.
Also, be sure that there is plenty of air ventilation and sunlight opportunity in their stable. They should be able to see over the door and you can also have space at the bottom of it. The roof should also be high enough to allow for good air ventilation and walking throughout the stable.
There are many characteristics that determine how big a pasture needs to be. In general, horses need between 1.25 and 2.5 acres. If you have multiple horses, allow them some individual time for grazing in individual areas.
What is the most beautiful horse in the world? As always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder but many people seem to agree that the “Akhal-Teke” may be the most beautiful horse in the world. Said to be a Turkmen horse breed they are famous for their metallic sheen coat.
The pasture needs proper maintenance in order to prevent disease and injury. For instance, parasite control, good drainage, weed removal, grazing area rotation, and general cleaning are great measures.
Also, keep your horse out of wet areas to prevent skin conditions and injury. Make sure the area is free of garden waste, grass and hedge clippings, and dangerous plants.
Fences, in general, should be about 4 feet tall. Some use electric fences if necessary but the horse should be able to clearly see it in order to prevent injury.
Socialization is VERY important for horses. Ideally, you should have multiple horses to keep each other company. Horses in the wild live in herds of about 6 to 15 horses, though there can be many more.
Horses really do prefer the company of other horses. Understandably, not everyone is able to have more than one horse. Just make sure you’re spending a lot of time with them throughout the day.
They’ll be very happy to see you and this will significantly reduce their stress levels which makes for a happier and healthier horse that lives a long time.
You don’t necessarily have to do anything special, just be near them. Simply spend time giving them praise, petting them, and brushing them. As long as you’re interacting with them, they’ll continue to build that bond.
Horses are very complex creatures but they make great pets and, with the right care, you can get many years of wonderful companionship. In general, your horse will live between 25 and 30 years old. There are records of horses living much longer.
It is important to provide good care in all areas of a horse’s life in order to extend their lifespan. You need to think about both physical and emotional health needs since stress can significantly impact their lifespan.
Nutrition, exercise, disease prevention, habitat, and socialization are all critical aspects of a horse’s life.
Related Horse Questions
How do Horse Years Compared to Human Years?
As I stated above there does not seem to be a real correlation between human years of aging and horse years but I know many people like to try and do it anyway! So here is a little horse age chart I made up for you! Remember, this is just for fun!
|Horse Years||Stage||Human Years||Stage|
|1||Foal, Filly (female) or Colt (male)||1||Infant or Baby|
|4||Mare (female)||20||Young Adult|
|5||Physical Maturity||25||Full Adult|
|15||Mid Life||45||Mid Life Crisis|
|22||Senior Citizen||65||Over the Hill|
What is a Pony Lifespan?
According to the research I did it seems that ponies tend to live longer than larger horses.
What is an Arabian Horse Lifespan?
As with all breeds, this depends on many factors but it appears that Arabian horses live about the same number of years as other breeds if properly cared for. 25 to 30 years on average.