How Long Do Horses Live?

On average, domestic horses live for 25 to 30 years. Some have even been known to live to 50 and 60 years old. However, wild horses have shorter lifespans and tend to live for around 15 to 16 years.

The reason for the big difference in life expectancy is that a domestic horse generally has a better diet, living environment, and veterinary care which all have a big influence on the longevity of a horse.

To get you fully up to speed, let’s take a deep dive into everything you need to know about how long horses live, and what you can do to keep your horse healthy and happy.

Factors That Influence a Horse’s Lifespan

Different horse breeds have different average lifespans but there are several steps you can take to make sure your horse has a long and healthy life, regardless of the breed.

So, let’s take a look at the factors that could influence your horse’s lifespan, and the lifespan potential of wild horses. If you follow the below tips then, who knows? – you could end up with the oldest horse in the world!


Your horse’s diet is absolutely vital to the longevity of its life. A nutrient-rich diet lays the foundations for everything else and is essential to your horse’s health.

Roughage like grass and hay should provide around 5% of the daily caloric intake of a domestic horse. This helps to prevent gastric ulcers and stimulates saliva production.

The rest of their daily calories should come from high-quality grains and legumes, as well as supplements.

Of course, each horse is different and their exact dietary needs can vary. With this in mind, it’s always best to consult an equine nutritionist or a veterinarian to make sure your horse is getting adequate nutrition.

The diet of a wild horse consists mainly of grasses and other vegetation they can forage in their habitat. Although this diet is healthy, the availability of food can fluctuate due to seasonal changes and natural events like droughts. This can harm the longevity of wild horses. 


Exercise is another factor that can greatly influence the length of a horse’s life. It has many benefits including improved digestion, circulation, bone and muscle development, and flexibility.

Adequate exercise helps your horse to strengthen, adapt, increase muscle tone, and build endurance which contributes to their longevity.

However, the amount of exercise a horse needs depends on its breed and age. For instance, racing breeds like Arabians need more daily exercise than a less demanding breed such as the American Quarter Horse.

Plus, senior horses don’t need as much exercise as younger horses as over-exertion can lead to issues like arthritis.

Environmental factors

Just like humans, the environments domestic horses live in are very important. They should be kept in stables that give them enough room and which are well-ventilated to ensure good air quality.

Horses should also be able to roam freely in their home environments. This encourages physical activity and can contribute to a healthier and longer life.

The lifespan potential of wild horses can be greatly affected by environmental factors since they don’t have the same protections domesticated horses do. For instance, extremely cold winters or very hot summers can take their toll on wild horses and can lead to premature deaths. 

Hoof care

All horse owners need to pay close attention to the health of their horses’ hooves, as this can have a big impact on the quality and length of a horse’s life. The benefits of well-maintained hooves include:

  • Weight distribution and joint health: Properly maintained hooves ensure weight is distributed evenly and shocks are absorbed effectively. This minimises the stress placed on a horse’s joints which can reduce the risk of issues like arthritis during and after your horse’s active years.
  • Prevention of lameness: Hoof care such as shoeing and trimming helps to prevent hoof issues like navicular disease and laminitis. It leads to a decreased risk of lameness later in life which can lead to a longer life.
  • Detection of health issues: Inspecting the hooves regularly also helps you detect health issues early. A veterinarian or farrier can often spot the signs of issues like nutritional deficiencies through changes in a horse’s hooves. When these types of issues are identified early, there’s less risk of them impacting the lifespan of a horse.
  • Overall soundness and mobility: Proper hoof care helps to prevent and address issues like abscesses, cracks, and imbalances. By keeping on top of this, you ensure your horse can maintain an active lifestyle which promotes good health.

Dental care

Taking care of your horse’s teeth can also help it reach (and even surpass) its average life expectancy. But why is this the case?

Well, if your horse is struggling to chew its food properly as a result of bad teeth, it can’t breakdown its food which can lead to weight loss. Plus, many horses experience dental problems like sharp enamel points and uneven wear. This causes discomfort, pain, and difficulty eating.

To avoid these issues, you need to make sure you schedule regular dental appointments for your horse. A varied and nutritious diet is also key to preventing dental problems.

Veterinary care

Proper or improper veterinary care can greatly influence how long horses live. The MSD Veterinary Manual states that:

“Adult horses should have a complete veterinary examination at least once a year. Geriatric horses (older than 20 years old) should see their veterinarian twice a year or more frequently because illness is more common in older animals and it can be identified sooner. Your veterinarian may recommend a wellness program for your horse, including routine blood tests”.

Your horse’s routine healthcare should include parasite control, vaccinations, and veterinary medicine (if necessary). There are also new technologies such as telemedicine and diagnostic imaging that can help diagnose common diseases and maintain and improve equine health.

Ultimately, the more attention you pay to your horse’s medical care, the better chance it has of leading a long life.

Oldest Horses Ever Recorded

Below are some of the (confirmed) oldest horses that we know of.

Old Billy – 62 Years Old

In the number one spot is the mysterious Old Billy. We don’t know what breed he was, but we can guess he was a cob or shire, or a mix between the two.

He was born in 1760 and died in 1822. During his long life, he was a barge horse and lived in Woolston in Lancastershire. He holds the record as the world’s oldest horse. 

Sugar Puff – 56 Years Old

Sugar Puff was a Shetland-Exmoor cross who was born in 1951 and died in 2007. He’s the oldest pony recorded and lived in West Sussex.

This fabulous pony worked at a riding school, where he was loved by many until he passed.

Honourable mentions

Other horses that lived to ripe old ages include:

  • Badger (51 years old) – Arab-Welsh who lived from 1953-2004
  • Shayne (51 years old) – Irish Draught with Thoroughbred ancestry who lived from 1962-2013
  • Scribbles (51 years old) – unknown origin, this pony lived from 1958-2009
  • Magic (51 years old) – Arabian who lived from 1969-2020

Lifespans Of Popular Horse Breeds

Please note that the numbers below are just average lifespans. This means that there will be horses that live years beyond this and some that won’t reach this age.

  • Quarter horse – 25-35 
  • American Saddlebred – 30-35 
  • Paso Fino – 25-35 
  • Standardbred – 25-35 
  • Appaloosa – 25-35 
  • Arabian Horses – 25-35 
  • Miniature Horse – 25-35 
  • Tennessee Walker – 28-33 
  • Haflinger – 25-30 
  • American Paint Horse – 25-30 
  • Clydesdale – 25-30 
  • Halovarian – 25-30 
  • Shire – 25-30 
  • Norwegian Fjord – 28-30 
  • Irish Sport Horse – 25-30 
  • Icelandic Horse – 25-30 
  • Percheron – 25-30 
  • Thoroughbred – 25-28 
  • Andalusian – 20-25 
  • Shetland Pony – 20-25 
  • Mustang – 20-25  
  • Akhal Teke – 18-20
  • Friesian – 14-16

What Signs Can Indicate Ageing In Horses?

OK, now you know what you can do to help your horse live to a ripe old age. But what are the telltale signs of ageing you need to look out for? Let’s take a look.

  • Body condition: Older horses may lose muscle mass and their ribs and spine may have a more prominent appearance.
  • Dental changes: As horses age, loose and missing teeth become more common.
  • Weight loss: Ageing horses have an increased risk of weight loss due to digestive inefficiency, dental issues, and other health problems.
  • Coat changes: A senior horse may experience changes in its coat such as greying, alterations in texture, dullness, and less shedding.
  • Reduced stamina: Older horses tend to have less endurance than younger ones. You’ll probably notice your horse gets tired more quickly as it ages.

How Do You Keep Your Horse Happy And Healthy As They Age?

It’s important to know how to take care of your ageing horse. As a horse gets older, a few things might change, and that’s okay! You just need to consider how things might change, and step up to the plate.

Below are two crucial things to take into consideration in order to keep your horse happy and healthy as they get older. Let’s take a look.


The proper diet is crucial for all animals, but older animals especially. This might vary for different breeds, but there are some key things to note.

Older horses should get food that is high in protein. This can be from soybean meal, alfalfa, or canola meal.

As they age, their bodies become less efficient at processing some nutrients, the primary one being protein.

Instead of feed, many older horses prefer pellets or hay cubes, since they are easier to chew. Soybean hulls and sugar beet pulp are also great, since they will give your ageing horse a food source of fibre.

The total diet, grain and hay combined on a dry matter basis, should have between 12-14% of high quality protein.

It should also contain added vitamin C, between 0.6-0.8 calcium, and between 0.3-0.4% phosphorous.


Older horses should be exercised at least 2-3 times a week. This is in addition to their turnout time.

Exercise is so important for older horses, as without it, they can easily hurt themselves. Pain and stillness can become an issue if their muscles, joints, and ligaments aren’t put to use.

Exercise can just be going for a long walk with relaxed reins to let them enjoy their time. You can also do figures, like serpentines and circles, to stretch muscles and get their bodies moving.

Make sure you do this on both sides so that only one side is benefitting from it.

What Age Do Horses Stop Growing?

Generally, horses are considered to be fully grown around the age of five. This is when their skeletal and muscular systems are fully developed, and they have reached physical maturity.

Still, the age of physical maturity can vary between different breeds. For instance, larger horses like draught horses may not be fully grown until they’re around six years old. On the other hand, smaller breeds tend to be fully grown at five years old.

When Should You Stop Riding Or Working Your Horse?

That’s up to your horse. Here on the farm, our Cob Ted is a whopping 30 years old and still loves his work! He works at the riding school and is still doing an amazing job.

The truth is, your horse will let you know when they need to slow down.

Until then, you can keep a watchful eye on them and make sure they’re doing okay. Let them decide their limits, and don’t try to push them.

When the time comes to retire them, they will probably be able to communicate that to you with ease.

Some horses will want to work for years to come, while others just won’t feel up to it. It isn’t something you can predict or force, so just enjoy your time with them.


How can you tell a horse’s age?

If you’re unsure how old your horse is, you can tell its age by examining its teeth. Of course, it’s best to get an equine dentist to do this but there are some things you can look out for too. For instance, if your horse is still losing a temporary tooth every now and then, it means its maximum age is around 2.5 years. 

Which horse breed has the longest lifespan?

There is no definitive answer to this as horses’ lifespans are greatly influenced by factors like diet, exercise, and environment. However, Arabian horses are incredibly hardy and tend to live longer than some other breeds. 

Do horses live longer in warm climates?

No, horses don’t necessarily live for longer in warm climates as opposed to cold climates. Both climates have their own pros and cons in terms of the health of horses. Ultimately, if a horse is properly cared for then it can live just as long in a cold climate as it can in a warm climate.

Final Thoughts

Horses can live long and happy lives, especially if you give them everything they need. A lot of horse breeds will live between the ages of 25-35, but many will surpass that!

Friesians have the shortest lifespans, with a late average of just 16 years, while breeds like Arabians and Quarter horses will usually reach their 30s.

Just remember Old Billy, who lived to be an incredible 62 years old.

Take care of your horse by loving them dearly, and providing them with everything they need, and they could easily surpass their breed’s average age.

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