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What Horse Breed Lives the Longest? Equine Lifespan Examined

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My grandson asked me what horse breed lives the longest. I told him I wasn’t sure, but “why do you ask?” 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 which breed lives the longest.

Arabian, Appaloosa, Haflinger, and American Paint Horses, are the horse breeds that seem to 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 that smaller breeds live longer than large ones.

Horses typically live between twenty to thirty years old. But like people, many factors play a role in how long one lives, including their diet, exercise, and genetics.

Do some horse breeds live longer than others?

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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 horses’ lives 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.

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, a sprinter is expected to have a shorter life, not because racehorses 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?

Some breeds have short lifespans.

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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 that 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 their 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 disease 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.

Which horse breed lives the longest?

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Generally, horse breeds with the longest lives include Arabian, Appaloosa, Haflinger, and American Paint Horses. After reading about common breeds, these breeds were chosen by me and isn’t based on scientific or demographic studies.

I could have included Morgans and Quarter horses because when they are hardy horses and when treated properly live long lives. Most horses that live long are on the smaller size.

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

This result differs dramatically based on the type, state, and purpose of the animal. An industrious drafting horse may resign once a week earlier compared to a pony rode incessantly.

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

How can one increase the life span of their horses?

Proper feeding

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.

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

Exercise is a key ingredient for long life.

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.  

Dental Care is Crucial Too

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.

Looking After the Hooves

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The man cleans a horse’s hoof before the training

Improper hoof care can contribute to horse clumsiness, which can also contribute to a gradual reduction in a horse’s ultimate well-being. Horse hoofs bear the horse’s collective load over a limited area and therefore need to be handled appropriately.

Healthy hoof treatment requires frequent appointments and regular checking and sorting out by a farrier. Unshod horses need more frequent screening.

Conclusion

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

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

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

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