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How Long Do Horses Live? A Look at Lifespan by Horse Breed.

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My grandson asked me what horse breed lives the longest. I told him I wasn’t sure, but “why are you asking?” He responded, “because I want my next horse to be with me for as long as possible.” I understand his sentiment and decided to find out how long horses live and which breed lives the longest.

The average horse has a lifespan of 25 to 30 years, but many live into their 30s or 40s. There are a number of factors that contribute to a horse’s longevity, including genetics, diet, and exercise. The breeds that tend to have longer lifespans include Arabians, Appaloosa, Haflinger, and American Paint Horses.

In this blog post, we will take a look at the average lifespan of different types of horses. However, there is no one type that has an especially long or short life span; instead, it primarily depends on the care it receives.

Picture of white horses in a field.
BreedLifespan
Arabian25 to 35 years
Appaloosa25 to 35 years
Haflinger25 to 30 years
American Paint Horses25 to 30 years
Mustang20 to 25 years
Friesian14 to 16 years
Clydesdale25 to 30 years
Shire25 to 30 years
Halovarian25 to 30 years
Gypsy Vanner25 to 30 years
Tennessee Walker28 to 33 years
Standardbred25 to 35 years
Thoroughbred25 to 28 years
Quarter horse25 to 35 years
Akhal Teke18 to 20 years
Irish Sport Horse25 to 30 years
Norwegian Fjord28 to 30 years
Belgian25 to 30 years
Percheron25 to 30 years
Icelandic Horse25 to 30 years
Paso Fino25 to 35 years
Dutch Warmblood25 to 30 years
American Saddlebred30 to 35 years
Shetland Pony20 to 25 years
Miniature Horse25 to 35 years
Andalusian20 to 25 years
Picture of a two year old horse

Horse breeds and Lifespan

Arabian, Appaloosa, Haflinger, and American Paint Horses, are some of the horse breeds that live the longest, but more important than the horse’s breed is the care it receives. It’s challenging to quantify one breed’s lifespan over another, but we know smaller breeds live longer than large ones.

A horse’s breed is one factor in determining the lifespan of a horse. It’s estimated that there are upwards of 300 varieties of horses in the world. They exist in many shapes, colors, and sizes that make each breed unique.

Life expectancy can vary amongst breeds and animal types. Ponies happen to live longer and healthier lives than bigger horses, and many of these small equines grow to live into their early forties.

The estimated lifespan of a horse relies primarily on the horse’s breed and its life experiences. The length and quality of a horse’s life depend on several variables, ranging from food to exercise to disease, genetics, and beyond.

Horses with good health and conformation at a young age are more likely to live longer, healthier lives regardless of breed. Raising a healthy horse to promote longevity can be overwhelming, but we always need to keep our horses’ best interests in mind.

We can’t do anything about their genetics, but we can feed them correctly and ensure they get exercise so they have an opportunity to live to a ripe old age.

Picture of an old American Paint horse.
American Paint horse.

What is the life expectancy of a horse?

The life expectancy of a horse varies depending on the breed, but the average lifespan is between 25 and 30 years. Certain breeds, such as Arabian horses, have been known to live into their 40s, while other horses may only live for 15 or 20 years.

The lifespan of a horse is also affected by its environment and lifestyle. horses that are well cared for and live in good conditions can often live longer than those that are neglected or live in poor conditions.

Additionally, horses that are used for racing or other strenuous activities tend to have shorter lifespans than horses that are not used for these purposes. Ultimately, the life expectancy of a horse depends on many factors, but the average horse can be expected to live for 25-30 years.

In addition, domestic horses, which are considered a category of livestock, are expected to have the greatest probability of surviving for the longest time. They do typically have ready access to food and water, and many get regular veterinary check-ups.

However, that’s not always the case; some domesticated horses have short lifespans. On the other extreme, performance horses typically have a shorter life, not because they are not well-tended but because they have multiple traumatic experiences resulting in death.

A fractured leg, for example, in the racehorse environment, will lead to euthanization. If you’re interested in learning more about racehorse injuries, check out this article I wrote: Why Are Race Horses Euthanized When They Break a Leg?

Picture of a Friesian, a horse breed known for its short lifespan.
Friesian horse.

Some horse breeds have short lifespans.

Friesian horses typically only live sixteen years. These horses are gracious, athletic, and beautiful, but they also don’t have long lives. One of the reasons for their shortened lives is the amount of inbreeding.

The generations of inbreeding caused many genetic congenital disabilities, some of which are life-threatening. Friesian horses typically only live 16 years. If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, check out this article: The Friesian Horse Breed: Lifespan, Genetics, and History.

A proper diet is essential in the lifespan of a horse.

The food that a horse eats plays a critical role in its overall health and life expectancy. A horse that grazes on high-quality grass is more likely to be in substantially better shape than a stable-held horse that provides an inferior quality diet.

Sickness can shorten lifespan.

Horses are far more prone to contract disease than many other domesticated animals. One reason they develop more diseases could be irresponsible breeding, which assures the continued transfer of genetic defects from mother to infant.

Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) is amongst the most prevalent diseases affecting horses and is the most common equine endocrine disorder. 

It can affect all horse breeds, and although it does not kill horses immediately, it may make a significant contribution to other health conditions that inevitably become lethal. Ponies and Morgan horses are reported to have significant occurrences of illness.

Picture of a thoroughbred stallion.
Thoroughbred

Which horse breed lives the longest?

There are many different horse breeds in the world, and each one has its own unique set of characteristics. Some horses are bred for speed, while others are bred for strength or agility. But which breed is the healthiest and lives the longest?

Generally, horse breeds with the longest lives include Arabian, Quarter horses, Appaloosa, Thoroughbred, Haflinger, and American Paint Horses. These breeds were chosen by me and aren’t based on scientific or demographic studies.

The Arabian horse is one of the oldest and most popular breeds in the world. They are known for their strength, agility, and stamina, and many people believe that they are the healthiest breed of horses. The average lifespan of an Arabian horse is around 25 years, but some have been known to live up to 35 years or more.

Next on our list is the American Quarter Horse. This breed is best known for its speed and agility, and it has been used in a variety of different disciplines, including racing, roping, barrel racing, and jumping. The average lifespan of an American Quarter Horse is around 20 years, but there are some who have lived well over 30 years.

The Appaloosa is known for its longevity; they are native to North America, and they were originally bred for work on the open range. They are also known for their distinctive spotted coats. The average lifespan of an Appaloosa is around 25 years, but some have been known to live up to 30 years or more.

Thoroughbreds are best known for their speed and athleticism, and it has been used in a variety of different disciplines, including racing, jumping, and eventing. The average lifespan of a Thoroughbred is around 25 years, but there are some who have lived up to 30 years or more.

The Haflinger breed is best known for its hardiness and its ability to live in cold climates. In fact, the Haflinger is so hearty that it can actually thrive in temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit. But did you know they also have a long lifespan? Many Haflingers live to be 30 years old.

So, which horse breed lives the longest? The answer may surprise you – it’s not just one specific breed, but rather a variety of different breeds depending on where they are from and how they are cared for.

However, some breeds do tend to have a longer lifespan than others, so be sure to keep this information in mind when choosing your next horse.

For instance, size matters less than genetic predisposition, however, among horse breeds. Friesians, a lighter draught horse breed, are likely to have a shorter average life (15-20 years), and Percherons, a large draft breed, are regarded for their long lives.

This result differs dramatically based on the type and purpose of the animal. An industrious draft horse may have a less arduous life compared to an incessantly ridden pony or a racehorse.

Although the horse breed doesn’t contribute significantly to horse longevity, smaller horses, such as ponies, appear to live longer than medium-sized horses.  ⠀

Picture of a horse standing still in a pasture.

Average Lifespan by type of horse

Cold Blood Horses (Draft Horses)28 years
Warm Blood Horses (Sport Horses)30 years
Hot Blood Horses (Light Horses)30 years

How to Extend the Life Span of Your Horses

There are a few things that you can do in order to help increase the life span of your horses. In the following sections, I will discuss some of the most important tips that you should keep in mind.

Horses are a valuable part of many families, and it is important to take care of them properly in order to ensure their health and well-being.

Picture of a horse eating from a hay bag.

Proper feeding

One crucial thing that you can do to help increase the life span of your horses is to keep them well-fed. Horses need a balanced diet in order to stay healthy. Make sure that you are feeding them hay, grains, and other nutrients that they need in order to thrive.

Optimally, a horse should be allowed to graze as much as possible over a pasture of healthy grass. The grass’s consistency is crucial since not every field supplies the sufficient minerals needed by a healthy horse.

Premium quality forage and grain, and nutrients should be provided to older horses as needed. The feed intake period is also essential. Aged horses must be fed every day, whenever practicable, around the same time. Regular feeding times help effectively protect their intestinal health in general.

Adequate Rest

It is crucial to allocate a portion of every horse’s day for relaxation. Undoubtedly, this varies on the role, maturity level, and health of the horse. Mental fatigue may result from an overstressed horse, and it typically causes accidents caused by discomfort, rigidity, and overuse.

For the long-term well-being of a horse, it’s critical to achieve the proper equilibrium between exercise and rest. 

Picture of two riders on a training track, exercising horses.

Exercise is a key ingredient for long life.

One of the most important things that you can do to help extend the life span of your horses is to make sure that they are getting enough exercise.

Horses need plenty of room to roam and play in order to stay healthy. If they are cooped up in a stall, they will not be as healthy as they could be. Make sure that your horses have plenty of space to run around and exercise.

Elderly horses seem to be more vulnerable to degenerative musculoskeletal diseases, including laminitis and arthritis. A few of the easiest ways to mitigate this is to ensure the horse keeps moving.

Their cartilage and muscle fibers are more flexible and far more vulnerable to injury that eventually causes lameness. Through activity and effective horse handling, the risk of these problems is alleviated.

Rather than just extreme stall enclosure, pasture shelter is amongst the most noticeable means of defending against limited movement and associated disorders. If you do not ride, walk your horse, work it on a lunge line or put them on a walker.  

Obesity

It’s important that you keep an eye on your horses’ weight. Overweight horses are more prone to developing joint problems, laminitis (a condition where the hoof separates from the coffin bone), and other health concerns.

These conditions can shorten the lifespan and quality of life of your horse. Monitoring their diet and providing them with plenty of exercises is key to keeping them at a healthy weight.

floating.teeth edited
Floating Teeth

Dental Care

Another thing that you can do to help increase the life span of your horse is to have its teeth examined regularly, and if there are any problems with them, they should be treated right away. If a horse has a diet that is high in sugar or starch (such as corn), this can lead to tooth decay which will shorten its life span considerably.

Horses should have their teeth examined annually. Most horses bred in captivity horses need their teeth floated every year. Floating is the method of filing down the sharp points that develop at the teeth’ edges, creating pain in the horse’s mouth and preventing the teeth from meeting correctly.

Domesticated horses need their teeth floated because the natural filing of teeth that happens while a horse has been out on grazing does not always occur when horses are stabled and fed a grain diet.

Picture of a person cleaning a horses hoof.
The man cleans a horse’s hoof before the training

Proper foot care

Healthy feet are key to a horse’s survival. So, you must take care of your horse’s feet if you want them to live a long and healthy life. This doesn’t mean they have to be shoed, but rather their feet need to be inspected and maintained, which should be part of your daily grooming routine.

If their hooves are not taken care of properly, they can develop lameness which will affect their movement and overall health. In addition to this, improper hoof care can also lead to infections in the feet and joints.

Poor hoof care can contribute to horse clumsiness, which can also contribute to a gradual reduction in a horse’s ultimate well-being. Be aware that horse hoofs bear an immense amount of weight over a small area and therefore need to be handled appropriately.

Healthy hoof treatment requires frequent appointments and regular checking and sorting out by a farrier. Shoeing is often necessary to protect horses’ feet, especially ones with tender soles or weak hoofs. However, many horses live long, healthy lives barefoot. If you decide to leave your horse unshod, it’s essential you regularly check their feet.

Picture of an old horse laying down in a stall.

Conclusion

In respect of projected lifetime, although there is no apparent winner. Appaloosas are recognized for their durability and regularly live for more than three decades. But the length of a horse’s life is dependent on the care it receives more than its breed.

Remember to feed your horse correctly, keep up with vaccinations, call a vet whenever your horse is sick, take care of its feet, and have its teeth checked annually.

These steps will ensure your horse has a healthy and long life.

Below is a YouTube video that discusses how long horses live.