Skip to Content

Oldest Horses Ever: By Breed, Uses, and Interesting Facts

Published on: November 9, 2022

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

The average lifespan of a horse is around 25 years. However, there are many outliers that have lived much longer. In this blog post, we will explore some of the horses that have broken the mold and lived well into their 40s, 50s, and even 60s. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the oldest horses in history.

Picture of Old Billy, the record holder for worlds oldest horse.
Yale Center for British Art, Public domain

Oldest Horse of All Time: Old Billy (62 years)

Old Billy, also known as Billy or Ol’ Billy, was 62 years old when he died in the November of 1822. He was a “barge horse” that worked the canals of England. In paintings, Ol’ Billy resembles a Shire with a brown coat and blaze face. Old Billy’s head is on display in two places – his skull can be found at the Manchester Museum, while his taxidermied head is displayed at the Bedford Museum.

Oldest Arabian Horse: Magic (51 years)

Magic, an Arabian horse, died at the age of 51 years in August 2020. She lived on a ranch in the rolling hills of Fallbrook. Bob and Mary Manns, Magic’s owners, said that Magic drank more water than most horses.

They typically fed her the same diet of hay as the other horses, and she did not receive any special supplements. For nearly 25 years, Magic competed as a pole bender and racer and also won several awards until the ripe old age of 47.

Oldest Thoroughbred: Tango Duke (42 years)

The oldest racehorse was a thoroughbred named Tango Duke, who has been mentioned in the Guinness World Records. His owner was Carmen J. Koper of Barongarook, Victoria, Australia. Tango Duke passed away in 1978. 

Oldest Living Racehorse: Dead Solid Perfect (39 years old)

Dead Solid Perfect turned 39 years old in January 2022. He surpassed Prospect Point, who was widely recognized as the oldest racehorse. Determining the oldest Thoroughbred racehorse is not exact.

Although the Jockey Club is a great source for finding out information about thoroughbreds, they have some limitations. For example, there’s no way to know how old specific horses were when they died.

As for Dead Solid Perfect, he wasn’t the fastest horse to ever run; however, he did have some success on the track. He ran 17 races and won one time; his career earnings were $5,940. After his racing career ended, Dead Solid Perfect was trained in dressage.

Oldest Friesian Horse: Drieske Star

According to the Friesian Horse Club, the oldest Friesian horse living is Drieske Star, who lived for 34 years. Friesian horses have a relatively short life span in comparison to other breeds. Most only live for 16 years, with a few living up to 25 to 30 years.

Picture of a Shetland pony in a pasture.

Oldest Pony: Sugar Puff

The Guinness Book of World Records has recorded Sugar Puff as the oldest pony. He reached the age of 56 years when he died in 2007. Most ponies live for 25-30 years.

Oldest Quarter Horse: Calypso

The oldest quarter horse is likely Calypso, a quarter horse from Gold Coast, Australia. Calypso’s owner found the 50-year-old horse dead in his paddock in February 2020, 5 months after celebrating his 50th birthday in Tallebudgera Valley.

Most horses, including quarter horses, live for about 25 years. But, it’s not unusual to run into a horse owner with one that lived to be 30 years old. This is a pretty hardy breed.

Oldest draft horse to ever live: Old Billy

The oldest draft horse to ever live was “Old Billy.” He was born in 1760 and died in 1822 at the age of 62. He pulled barges up and down canals until late in his life. He is believed to be a Shire cross.

A Shire horse is a large draft breed that originated in England. They can live to be about 30 years old, on average. One of the biggest horses to ever live was the Shire named Mammoth.

Oldest Appaloosa Horse: Kemo’s Fire Shadow

The oldest Appaloosa horse might be Kemo’s Fire Shadow (registration 341774). He was born in 1980 – which makes him 42 years old at the time of writing this article. The Appaloosa breed was developed by the Nez Perce people of Idaho.

The original name for the breed was “Palouse,” but this was changed to “Appaloosa” after white settlers began to breed them for their distinctive spotted coats.

Oldest Racehorse to Win a Race: Al Jabal (19 years)

The oldest racehorse to win a race was Al Jabal, a purebred Arab chestnut gelding born in April 1983. This is a Guinness Record. Al Jabal won The Three Horseshoes Handicap Stakes in 2002 at the young age of 19.

Picture of Arabian horses.

Oldest Horse Breed in the World.

The Arabian is the oldest horse breed, with documentation and pictorial representations dating back 2,000 years. However, some scientists believe other horse breeds are older.

The Icelandic horse, for example, is a direct descendant of the horses brought to Iceland by the Vikings over 1,000 years ago. Similarly, the Caspian horse is thought to be a direct descendant of the horses used by the ancient Persians, which were depicted in art as early as 3,000 BC.

However, they may not be the exact same breed as modern Caspian horses. While the exact age of these breeds is difficult to determine, there is no doubt that they are among the oldest in existence. However, the Arabian is the oldest confirmed horse breed.

Oldest Mustang Horse: Circus? (22 years old)

There are no records for the oldest mustang. However, they typically live for around 15 to 25 years – a lot less than the average lifespan of domesticated horses. (Generally, wild horses live a lot less than domesticated horses since the latter receive timely medical and dental care).

A wild Mustang named Circus residing at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park will be around 22 years old today, and we hope he is still alive.

Picture of wild mustangs

Notable horses with long lifespans.

Orchid (50 years old)

Orchid, an Arab Thoroughbred cross, is believed to have been at least 49 or 51 years old when she passed away in 2015. Her exact age is unknown since she arrived in a terrible condition at the Remus Horse Sanctuary in Ingatestone, Essex, UK, in 2014. Vets later estimated her age to be 51 by the time she passed, using equine dental analysis. Poor Orchid had undergone a lot of abuse. 

Shayne (51 years old)

Shayne – an Irish draught horse – was put to sleep at the age of 51 years at the Essex sanctuary in 2013. His owners attributed Shayne’s longevity to his spritely nature and also the fact that he wasn’t overworked in his retirement. Shayne loved to eat sugar beets, chaff, and cabbages as treats!

Below is a YouTube video about Shayne.

Badger (51 years old)

Badger, a Welsh/Arab, might have held the “official” Guinness Book of World Records for the oldest horse (since Old Billy’s world record is not confirmed). Unfortunately, poor old Badger lived under terrible circumstances in his old age and was left starving and neglected. He passed away in 2004. 

Prospect Point (38 years and 203 days)

Prospect Point was the oldest Thoroughbred who lived for nearly 39 years before passing away in 2016. In his racing career, which spanned 5 years, Prospect Point won 7 times and finished 3rd in nearly 10 races. His earnings were almost $29,000.

Prospect Point remained cheerful and happy even in his old age. No one knows why or how he lived for so long since the average lifespan of racing thoroughbreds is only 25-28 years. 

By 2016, Prospect has lost his appetite and most of his eyesight. He had even lost a few teeth. Arthritis made it painful for him to frolic – something he loved doing. Since he rapidly lost weight and was evidently suffering, his owner decided to euthanize him in September 2016.

Interesting fact: the first two horse years are nearly 6.5 human years. This makes a 33-year-old horse almost 93 years old in human years!

Should you buy an old horse?

My friend asked me what I think about buying older horses. I asked him what he considers an old horse because his definition and mine could be way different. Age is a relative term, but as a general rule, I consider horses seniors when they reach 15 and old when they are 25.

So, if you are considering buying a horse 25 or older, there are a lot of factors to consider. It’s important to make sure you’re knowledgeable about horses and know what to look for in an older horse.

You’ll want to be knowledgeable about the horse’s health, soundness, and temperament. You’ll also want to be sure you have a good plan in place for rehabilitating or retraining the horse, if necessary. And, of course, be prepared to pay for necessary vet expenses older horses need.

Picture of a sorrel quarter horse.

Is a 14-year-old horse too old to buy?

No, a 14-year-old horse is not too old to buy. Horses can live well into their late 20s or early 30s, so a 14-year-old horse is still relatively young. However, horses age differently depending on how hard they’re worked and how well they’re taken care of, so it’s important to do your research before buying an older horse.

One thing I recommend is to have a veterinarian check it out to make sure the horse will meet your needs and doesn’t have any hidden medical issues.

FAQs – Oldest Horses in History

Can you ride a 20-year-old horse?

Yes, you can ride a 20-year-old horse, provided the horse is healthy and has no major health issues. Horses typically retire from riding by the time they reach 20, but some horses can be ridden safely until well into their 20s; it really depends on their health and fitness level.

Can a horse live to 40 years old?

Yes, a horse can live to be 40 years old. There are many things that impact a horse’s life expectancy, including breed, diet, lifestyle, and environment. Some horses live into their late 30s or even early 40s, while others don’t make it past their 20s.

What is the oldest living animal on land?

A Seychelles giant tortoise named Jonathon is recognized as the oldest living land animal. As of 2022, he is 190 years old. The Aldabra giant tortoises are believed to live well beyond 200 years; their ages haven’t been verified.

Conclusion – Oldest Horses in History

The oldest horse in history was Old Billy; a barge horse verified to be 62 years old at the time of his death in 1822. He worked for the Mersey and Irwell Navigation Company. There are other old horses too, including Shayne – an Irish draft, Magic – an Arab, and Badger – all of whom reached the age of 51 years at the time of their deaths.

The current title holder for the oldest living horse in 2022 is unknown, and we can only hope the information will be released soon.