How Long Does A Horse Live? Fascinating Lifespan Facts

Aryan Khanna
Feb 21, 2023 By Aryan Khanna
Originally Published on Nov 12, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Red stallion running in spring meadow.

Whether it is to satisfy your equestrian hobby or pursuits or because you are fond of this animal, people often think of purchasing a horse.

However, it isn't a child's play to own a horse as one must understand the purpose behind getting a horse and should buy the appropriate breed and research all about it. A horse's lifespan is often talked about as people grow fond of this animal in no time and become sad at the very thought of its demise.

This domestic animal is known to have been present on this planet for ages now and has accordingly evolved over the years too. In the early Stone Ages, it was used only as a farm animal or as a means of transport, but in the modern-day, its purpose has completely changed.

Although we usually take horses to be domestic animals, there exist wild horses that have never been domesticated.

In between these two equine types, there exists a third type known as feral horses. This is a domesticated species of horse but keeps roaming around in the open, it is a kind of domestic horse but also shows signs of a wild horse.

There originally existed two kinds of horses, hot bloods and cold bloods.

Hot bloods were known for their high speed and strength or endurance. The cold bloods consisted of ponies which were specifically used for carrying load and doing some heavy work throughout the day.

Europeans soon started cross-breeding these kinds of horses and there was a new third category known as warm-blooded.

These horses were created to extract the best out of both kinds, today there are around 300 0dd species of horses to walk this Earth. The life expectancy or lifespan of all these horses varies from one another depending upon their breed, the kind of work they do and how properly they are taken care of.

If you enjoy this article, why not also read about how long do cats live and how long do rabbits livehere on Kidadl?

The Average Lifespan Of A Horse

The average lifespan of horses depends upon a number of factors and the life expectancy of every horse differs from one another due to differences in their breed.

On average, horses live for around 20-30 years, but just like in the case of dogs, horse owners should not be stunned if their horse lives longer than this duration or sadly passes away before 20 years.

Factors like a breed of the house, the climatic conditions where it lives, the diet of your horse, its exercise regime and its medical history play a pivotal role in deciding how long it will live.

In the recent past, there have been some massive developments in the equine department regarding their health and a better understanding of a horse's genetics which has led to an increase in the average lifespan of a horse.

Until a few years ago, if a horse was 30 years old, it was considered to be in old age, but credit to progress in horse's medical health research, the average horse span now conveniently touches the 30-year mark.

A horse living beyond the age of 30 years is not a shock for horse owners anymore, and if they take good of their horse's dental health in particular and overall health in general, then they will tend to live longer than before.

Interestingly, don't be shocked but the oldest horse ever recorded hailed from Lancashire, UK named Old Billy, and it lived for 62 years!

Old Billy was born back in 1760 when equine health hadn't developed much but it went on to live till 1822 getting itself registered in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest living horse. Good genetics and a disease-free life helped Old Billy live such a long life.

The average lifespan of a horse also depends upon its size, the smaller the size of the horse, the longer the horse lives.

For instance, the life expectancy of a mini horse is 25-30 years, almost one-third more than that of a normal-sized horse which has a life expectancy of 20-30 years.

Moving on to other horse breeds, the paint horse found in America, tends to live longer than an average horse by three to four years.

On average, a paint horse's age is 30-31 years, but if the owner is sincere enough to take care of its horse properly, it can certainly live longer.

The importance of good veterinary care becomes even more significant when you realize that wild horses live for 15 years only on average which is way less than average domestic horses.

The probable reasons behind this phenomenon are that wild horses are more vulnerable to diseases than domestic ones, and they often suffer from starvation or become prey to larger wild animals.

On the other hand, horses relatively smaller in size live longer than the heavier ones. We can notice this in the Arabian horse lifespan as it lives for around 30 years or ever longer at times due to its relatively small body size.

Racehorses too just like domestic horses live for 25-30 years if not affected by diseases.

They usually retire from competitive racing at the age of seven and then are usually trained for other activities.

If owners take good care of them post their retirement, they tend to live longer than average.

Although different horse breeds live for different durations, in the case of a domestic horse kept in captivity, the average lifespan is around 25-30 years if good care is taken of its health.

How To Improve The Life Expectancy Of A Horse

A horse is an animal, but interestingly, when it comes to life expectancy and healthcare, it isn't much different from us humans. Just like human beings, if good care is taken for the factors which affect the lifespan of a horse, its life expectancy can be increased.

A horse may live longer if the owner firstly takes care of its diet, its living conditions, its exercise and also its socialization needs.

These are some of the main reasons why domestic horses are these days living longer than wild horses.

Wild horses roam around in not exactly healthy conditions and are bound to eat food which at times is not healthy for them. Let us now delve deeper into how humans can increase the average age of a horse with their efforts.

What you feed a horse is pretty significant in affecting the potential living age of a horse.

The best food for a horse is pasture grass and alfalfa which look like long-stem hay. Until and unless your horse requires concentrated calories for the purpose of nursing or if it's growing a colt, do not feed it corn or oats.

Feed these grains only under specific conditions such as when they need extra calories for producing milk.

Along with what you feed your horse, it is also important to keep an eye on how many times a day you feed your horse. A minimum of twice or thrice a day is regarded to be good, this helps replicate a pattern when horses naturally graze in pastures.

Some owners use slow feeders for their horses so that they can eat small amounts of hay whenever they wish to.

It is essential for you to regulate your horse's calorie intake and make sure that it doesn't overeat. An efficient way to take care of this is, feed your horse 2% of its body weight daily.

You can now conveniently keep track of your horse is in a healthy condition or if it is overeating.

Safeguarding a horse from disease is another way how horses live longer. The best way to assure this is to get in touch with a vet to facilitate timely check-ups of your horse's teeth, its hoof and give it timely vaccinations.

Apart from this, you will at times need to deal with issues such as colic, laminitis, arthritis and certain other occasional hoof problems.

Colic is a very common disease - it can be seen among horses who do not eat the right kind of food and eventually suffer from abdominal pain.

The vet recommended best way to deal with colic is to keep track of what your horse is eating and at the same time make sure that it does the required amount of exercise. Laminitis is another disease in horses caused by what your horse eats throughout the day, but unlike colic, this affects the hooves of a horse.

It is usually seen in horses that become overweight due to excess food and lack of exercise.

Properly dealing with all these issues can certainly increase the lifespan of a horse and make horses live longer. The last key factor of improving how long horses live is by taking take care of their daily exercise.

Daily exercise of 15-20 minutes twice a day is good.

An intense workout session isn't required, riding your horse once in the morning and once in the night is enough. The best thing to do after riding your horse is to let it rest and provide your horse with a big pen where it can rest freely.

If there are other horses present there, then it can't get any better, living with its other mates helps to keep a horse happy and benefits in socialization.

Causes For Death In Horses

The reasons which lead to a horse's death are different for differing age groups. Colic is one disease that is a common reason for the death of horses of all age groups. Other than colic, injury wounds and trauma lead to the death of young horses less than one-year-old and also those which are around 15-20 years old.

Colic can affect horses of any age group as it is caused due to imbalances in the food habits of a horse.

Even though it seems controllable, in various surveys conducted all over the world, colic has been named as the top reason leading to horse's death.

It has been noted at times that even after the issue of colic is treated, the health of a horse takes some time to get stabilized as this disease affects the abdomen of a horse.

Once treated, you must be extra careful about the health of your horse and feed it vet recommended food in designated quantity only.

Different horse breeds react differently to various diseases but if they are not treated, they can reduce a horse's age depending upon the severity of the issue at hand.

Researchers have also noted respiratory problems to be common among horses living in difficult terrains, around 15.4% of horses all over the world every year fall to death due to respiratory issues.

Horses in their old age are especially vulnerable to respiratory problems and neurological issues. For horses that are up to 20 years old, injuries and wounds cause a lot of deaths.

Horses that participate in competitive races or jumping events are especially vulnerable to these issues and can often be seen dying at a young age if not provided with immediate veterinary care.

What is the oldest horse ever?

The longevity or lifespan of horses usually depends upon their diet, their dental care and also their exercise regime. When all these factors are properly taken care of, the lifespan of horses can grow by manifolds.

The life of this animal often depends upon how attached the owner is with their domestic horse for without good care, horses tend to die at a young age.

The oldest horse which ever lived is quite a shocker for everybody, it was a horse named Old Billy, and it died when it was 62 years old! This is double the average horse lifespan.

The fact that comes as the biggest shock is that it was born in 1760 when there wasn't a lot of veterinary care at hand. Thus, horses can live for such long years if taken care of properly; Old Billy is the best example to show the longevity of horses.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how long does a horse live then why not take a look at how long do pugs live or horse facts?

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Written by Aryan Khanna

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

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Aryan KhannaBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

A dedicated and hardworking content writer currently pursuing his Bachelor's in Management Studies from St. Xavier's University, Kolkata. Aryan aims to gain corporate exposure and enhance his skills while creating well-researched and engaging content that is SEO-friendly. Aryan is a talented individual who puts in the effort to overcome any obstacle in his way.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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