How Long Do Horses Live? [Complete Guide]

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While a horse passes its physical peak at about ten to fifteen years, a domestic horse can live between 25 to 33 years. This age is much older than most domesticated animals. In recent years, the oldest recorded age of a horse was 56 held by a horse named Sugar Puff, according to Oldest.org.

Several factors affect how long your horse will live:

  • Size
  • Genetics
  • Breeding
  • Care

While some of these factors you can’t control, properly caring for your horse is essential to a long lifespan for your horse.

Can Horses Live to be 40?

Yes. With proper care, horses can live to be 40, but this is considered way beyond extreme old age. At the age of 36, a horse reaches the equivalent of a 100-year-old person. So don’t expect much if your horse lives past 36—pat yourself on the back for being an amazing caregiver to your horse.

Do Some Horse Breeds Live Longer Than Others

Currently, there are over 300 breeds of horses in the world. As a general rule, larger horses live shorter lifespans. But other factors can affect a breed’s lifespan, such as type of work and susceptibility to illness.

The Human Society reported that the percentage of horses that live over fifteen years are:

  • 57% of Morgans
  • 52% of Arabians
  • 30% of Quarter Horses
  • 25% of Saddlebreds
  • 15% of Painted horses
  • 15% of Standardbreds

What Breed Of Horse Lives the Longest?

Morgans live long because they genetically are not prone to illness like other breeds, don’t get leg problems, and are easy to care for, according to the American Morgan Horse Association.

Do Wild Horses Live Longer Than Domestic Horses?

According to Live Science, wild horses, like mustangs, have shorter lifespans than domestic horses. This is probably due to the lack of care that domesticated horses enjoy. Wild horses have been known to live up to 36 years, which is still a considerably old age for a horse.

Related Link: You’re Not a Bad Owner if You Can’t Afford to Feed Raw

How to Determine a Horse’s Age

The University of Missouri states that you can determine a horse’s age by examining its teeth. Four ways you can tell by teeth appearance are:

  • The occurrence of permanent teeth: The number of permanent teeth can help identify age. A horse generally has all their permanent teeth by age five.
  • The disappearance of cups: At age six, cups in the lower jaw in the centers are worn reasonably smooth. And cups disappear completely by age fifteen.
  • The angle of incidence: the incisors appear to slant forward and outward with older horses.
  • The shape of the teeth’ surface: The surface of a horse’s teeth can change dramatically depending on their age.

How Old is a 32-year-old Horse in Human Years?

Horses age faster than humans. So a horse that is 32 years old is similar to a human that is 90 years old. That’s an old horse. If your horse is still kicking around after 32 years of life, you must be doing something right.

Horse to Human Age Comparison Chart

The following chart is an approximate age comparison chart and can vary based on your horse’s breed. Most horses hit physical maturity by the age of five years old. And with proper care, most horses live to be around 27 years old.

Horse AgeHuman EquivalentLife Stage
16.5Baby, Toddler, Preschool, Kindergarten
213Puberty
318Teenager
420.5Young Adult
524.5Adult
1035.5Thirty-something
1343.5Middle Aged
2060Senior
2778Average Lifespan
3085.5Extremely Old
36100.5Dang Gina! Centurion

Why Horses Are Living Longer

Horses are living longer because equine health and medicine have advanced significantly in recent years. By providing better care from caretakers and veterinarians, horses have a better chance of living a long lifespan.

Dental care for horses is one of the primary reasons horses live longer because it extends the life of a horse’s teeth, which allows them to get better nutrition. Abscesses and chronic mouth pain are two of the main reasons horses stop eating as they age. By caring for their teeth, you can prevent abscesses and teeth loss.

Is your horse struggling to maintain weight? Rogue Pet Science equine supplements can significantly improve your horse’s performance.

Related Link: The Benefits of Raw-Type Feeding

How to Provide a Long and Healthy Life for Your Horse

There are many things you can do to increase the longevity of your horse. While these habits can significantly improve your horse’s health, they cannot prevent injury or some illnesses.

Care for Your Horse’s Teeth

Equus Magazine reports that a horse’s health declines quickly when their teeth are bad. Bad teeth lead to abscesses and chronic pain that make it difficult for your horse to eat. These problems reduce the number of calories and nutrients the horse gets every day and reduces their lifespan.

Feed Your Horse Frequent, Small Amounts of Healthy Food

Because horses by nature are grazers, it’s essential to feed your horse a frequent, small amounts of food. Allow your horse to forage on pasture grass or long-stem hay like alfalfa. This will help extend the life of your horse.

Unless your horse is pregnant or nursing, you’ll want to keep a strict healthy diet and avoid feeding your horse treats such as:

  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Apples
  • Carrots

According to Rutgers Agriculture Department, you should give these treats sparingly and less the one to two pounds per serving.

It would be best if you fed your horse at least three times a day to simulate a grazing pattern. Slow Feeders also encourage small amounts of food throughout the day.

Keep Your Horse’s Vaccinations Current

Horses can get several illnesses that can cut short how long your horse lives. The best way to prevent illness is to maintain regular veterinarian visits and stay current on your horse’s vaccinations.

Horse Vaccinations prevent several illnesses that can harm your horse. According to the Merck Veterinarian Manual, horse vaccines prevent:

  • Tetanus
  • Herpesvirus
  • Encephalitis
  • Influenza
  • Rabies
  • Potomac Horse Fever
  • Botulism
  • Streptococcus Equi-Infection
  • Rotavirus
  • Equine Infectious Anemia

Unfortunately, vaccinations cannot prevent all illnesses. Some illnesses that can shorten your horse’s life are:

  • Colic
  • Laminitis
  • Thrush
  • Abscesses
  • Arthritis

Regularly Exercise Your Horse

Just like humans, horses need to be active to live a long life. The exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous but more routine. The Federation Equestre Internationale recommends: 

  • Lunging or long reining five times a week for at least twenty to thirty minutes.
  • Hacking or trail riding to build fitness.
  • Hill work to increase muscle strength.
  • Interval training of short bursts of high-intensity canter followed by walking.

Socialize Your Horse

Horses are herd animals and are happiest when they live and associate with other horses and their caretakers.

Spend Time With Other Horses

Horses need to be with other horses. If you do not own more than one horse, you’ll need to find ways for your horse to spend time with other horses. Allowing them to graze with friendly horses profoundly contributes to their satisfaction.

Spend Time With People

Horses need time with their caretakers. Spending time with your horse by grooming, petting, and talking to them positively affects their overall well-being, which helps extend their lifespan.

Signs of Aging in Horses

Another important aspect of caring for your horse is watching for signs of aging. It’s critical to know these signs so that you can care for your horse as a senior citizen horse, which is different than a mature adult horse. Because horse breeds can age differently, you need to watch for these signs:

Decreased Nutrient Absorption

Older horses struggle to absorb nutrients and will lose weight and body condition as a result. Several factors affect your aging horse’s ability to absorb nutrients:

  • Digestive system dysfunction or inefficiency
  • Reduced production of the digestive enzyme in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Internal parasite scarring

Poor Teeth

As a horse ages, its teeth decay from wear and tear. Getting your horse in for regular dental checkups is essential because they can remove problem teeth and smooth out uneven teeth. If your horse has dental problems, you’ll notice weight loss, dropping food while eating, and lacking appetite.

Increased Stress

As a horse ages, it becomes more difficult for the horse to handle stress. You’ll notice several behavior changes when your horse is stressing:

  • Lack of appetite or thirst
  • Refusal to move or walk
  • Changes in the pecking order
  • Shivering in winter or overheating during summer
  • Changes in hormone production

Prone to Diseases and Disorders Relating to Age

As the horse ages, its immune system weakens, making the horse more susceptible to different diseases and disorders. This can be a number of things, so it will be important to take your horse to the vet for regular checkups to assess their health.

Is your horse’s immune system weakening? Shop Rogue Pet Science’s Equine Origins 5 in 1 food topper.

Related Link: EPM in Horses: Causes & Prevention

How to Care for a Senior Horse

Because veterinary care has made huge advancements, horses live much longer lives, and it is not uncommon for your horse to live till its 30s. How you care for your horse, utilizing improved veterinary care, will impact your horse’s lifespan. 

When caring for a senior horse, Equisearch recommends:

  • Provide feed that’s nutrient-rich and easily accessible. Your horse will need more time to eat because of dental problems. You’ll want to put hay in easy access areas and may want to feed it separately from other horses so it doesn’t have to compete. If your horse struggles to eat, you may want to switch to a formulated senior feed or add a supplement to their diet.
  • Monitor your horse’s hydration. To do this, you’ll want to check inside its mouth to ensure that it is moist.
  • Offer more shelter. Older horses need more protection from the elements. In the summer, this may mean cooling the stable with a fan. And in colder weather, you may want to blanket your horse.
  • Show caution when vaccinating. As your horse ages, its immune system struggles and can have adverse reactions to vaccines. If your horse has strong reactions to the vaccines, you may want to keep your horse away from other horses to reduce exposure to infections and diseases.
  • Deworm your horse regularly. You should give your horse a dewormer every 60 days and do the bi-annual treatment for tapeworm, depending on your area.
  • Check your horse’s teeth regularly. If you notice your horse has trouble chewing, it most likely is from dental problems. Get them to a vet for treatment.

By following these senior horse care tips, you’ll be able to extend your horse’s lifespan and improve its quality of life.

Caring for Your Horse Will Extend Its Lifespan

By following these tips, you’ll be able to extend the lifespan of your horse. Caring for the social, physical, and health needs of your horse is essential. To provide proper nutrition for your horse, you should consider adding a dietary supplement to your horse’s diet.

Rogue Pet Science uses only proven ingredients to create all-natural pet supplements and vitamins to improve your horse’s overall nutrition and gut health. Rogue Pet Science offers a natural, highly digestible, and nutritious Origins Equine 5 in 1 supplement to help extend the life of your horse.

Want to improve your horse’s skin, coat, joints, and digestion? Rogue Pet Science has a 5 in 1 food topper that will enhance your horse’s gut health.

Related Link: The Link Between Gut Health and Allergies

References:

  1. https://www.oldest.org/animals/horses/
  2. https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/archive/assets/pdfs/hsp/soaiv_07_ch10.pdf
  3. https://www.morganhorse.com/about-morgan/faqs/
  4. https://www.livescience.com/50714-horse-facts.html
  5. https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/g2842
  6. https://equusmagazine.com/horse-care/manage-horse-live-longer-31040
  7. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/management-and-nutrition/health-management-interaction-horses/vaccination-program-for-horses
  8. https://www.fei.org/stories/lifestyle/health-fitness/5-ways-improve-horse-fitness
  9. https://esc.rutgers.edu/fact_sheet/odd-things-that-horses-eat/
  10. https://horseandrider.com/horse-health-care/signs-of-aging
  11. https://www.equisearch.com/articles/7-senior-horse-care-strategies
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