How Long Do Horses Live?
Horses are such majestic animals that it seems as though they should live forever. And in a fantasy world they would. But unfortunately, we live in the real world and every living animal has an expiration date, horses included.
The good news is that horses live to be a lot older than many animals, including cats and dogs. A horse will stay with you throughout most of your life, with many horses living beyond the age of 30. It all comes down to proper care and management. In general, horses do grow to be very old.
What’s the Average Lifespan of a Horse?
A domestic horse has an average lifespan of between 20 and 30 years. But that doesn’t mean much. It really depends on the health of your horse, how well you care for them, and how happy they are in their life. A horse raised in unfortunate conditions probably won’t live as long as a horse brought up in a happy, healthy, and energetic home.
Some horses live even into their 40s. This is obviously rare, but it does happen. Ponies typically live longer than the average horse. Larger horses, usually draft breeds, don’t live quite as long as smaller horses like Arabians. But none of these rules are carved in stone. There have been very old draft horses. There have been Arabian horses that died young.
On average, you can expect your horse to live between 20 and 30 years. Add 10 extra years though, just in case. In the time that your horse is alive, you could have already gone through two or three dogs.
How Do You Tell the Age of a Horse?
Determining how old a horse is can be extremely difficult. Unfortunately, horses don’t always come with identifying paperwork. Sometimes they change owners again and again before they find a forever home. And unlike people, you can’t just look straight at a horse’s face and tell how old they are.
The best indicator to a horse’s age is its teeth. Teeth are not 100% accurate. They aren’t like the rings on the inside of a tree. But you can look at a horse’s teeth and get a pretty good idea of how long they’ve been around.
The individual years are quite complicated, requiring a pretty good understanding of how horse teeth develop. Basically, every year of a horse’s life, their teeth change. This is true up until around the age of 15, at which point determining age by looking at the teeth can get significantly more difficult.
How Old is a 28-Year-Old Horse in Human Years?
Horses age differently than humans. Just like dogs have dog years, horses also have horse years. By the time your horse is 2 years old, it’s equal to that of a 13-year-old human. A horse’s young years equal 6.5 human years each. But as they grow, the rate slows – same as with dogs.
After your horse turns 3, the rate slows to 2.5 human years for every year that passes. By the time your horse is 5 years old, it’s really 23 and ready to move out of the house. The rate of growth will stay like that for the rest of your horse’s life.
By the time a horse is 28 years old, it’s really 80 years old in human years. This is why it’s not that surprising that some horses can live beyond 30, to a maximum of around 40. At 40 years old, a horse is actually 110 human years. Humans and horses seem to age in tandem, with neither of us really surpassing 110 years old.
How Old Was the Oldest Horse?
Old Billy is considered to be the oldest horse in the world, living between 1760 and 1822. Old Billy died at the age of 62, making him somewhere around 160 human years. The only issue with the story of Old Billy is that it’s so old as to be unconfirmable. Old Billy is listed in the Guinness World Records as having the greatest age ever reliably recorded, with ‘reliably’ being the main word here.
We know that Old Billy was bred by Edward Robinson and that he died on November 27, 1822. But whether Edward Robinson fudged some records or not is impossible to tell.
Can Horses Live to be 40?
Horses can absolutely live to be over 40. It is rare, about as rare as a person living to be over 105 years old. But it does happen. With proper care, a horse can easily live deep into their 30s and maybe even into their 40s while still being healthy and active.
In fact, healthy senior horses in their 30s and 40s can still be useful. So long as attention is given to their basic needs, such as feed and dental work and hoof care, many older horses remain useful well into retirement. Horses in their 30s and 40s can give children lessons on horseback riding, they can keep young horses company, and they can teach the newer generation good horse etiquette.
Most people don’t get rid of a horse just because it grows old. After all, you wouldn’t get rid of your family members just because they grew a bit old and a bit slow. Horses can live into their 30s, then well into their 40s.
Can Horses Live to be 50?
A horse can live into its 50s, yes. But it is exceptionally rare. The oldest confirmed horse in the world was Shayne, who died at the age of 51 years old. Shayne was from the small town of Brentwood in Essex, England. Oddly enough, this horse lived in the same small English town as Pip, a 24-year-old terrier believed to be the oldest dog in the world. There must be something in the air in Brentwood.
It’s very rare for a horse to live to 50. Out of all the thousands of horses in the world, maybe a handful in a generation will live to be upwards of 45. Shayne was in good health but one day, simply couldn’t get up from his nap. The hard decision was made to put the horse to sleep, as he seemed no longer able to stand on his own four legs.