How Long Do Horses Live? | Ways To Keep Your Horse Healthy & Strong

June 15, 2020

How Long Do Horses Live? | Ways To Keep Your Horse Healthy & Strong

Caring for a horse isn’t the easiest thing in this world. Where will you house them? Who will pay for the veterinary expenses? How often can you ride them? What type of food do they eat? The questions go on, which makes it natural to ask yourself what the average lifespan of a horse is. 

The life expectancy of a horse is determined by a lot of things, including their diet, exercise, illness, and so much more. With this, choosing the best for your horse can be very stressful. But at the end of the day, you want to make sure that your horse gets nothing but the best so that they can live longer. 

Caring For A Horse

How Long Do Horses Live?

What is the average lifespan of a horse?

According to David Ramey, DVM, owner of Ramey Equine in Los Angeles and the author of “The Concise Guide to Medications, Supplements, and Herbs for the Horse,” an average domestic horse can live up to 25 to 30 years. 

Determining the exact lifespan of a horse is a little bit tricky. This is because the expected lifespan of a horse depends on its breed and its lifestyle. For example, domestic horses that are taken care of have a higher chance of living longer since they don’t have to stress over their food and all. 

On the other hand, a racehorse is expected to have a shorter lifespan since they undergo a lot of life-ending traumas. In some cases, they are even euthanized for the injuries and traumas that they get. 

Life Expectancy of Different Horse Breeds

Different horse breeds have various life expectancies. Here are the most common horse breeds and their life expectancies:

Horse Life Expectancy

Note: 

The figures shown in the chart above are just the average life expectancies of different horses. In most cases, these breeds live longer than their expected lifespan with the help of veterinary medicine advancements and proper care that they are getting now more than ever. 

Ways to Determine a Horse Age

Unlike humans, horses don’t have proper documentation. They do not have birth certificates, passports, or any other identification that could help determine their age. Thankfully, there are alternate ways on how you can determine the age of a horse. This includes the following:

Using the Teeth

As they age, the teeth of a horse go through changes that determine their age. Finding out the age of horses using their teeth comes in two stages: their baby teeth and their permanent teeth. 

Horse Teeth

Baby Teeth:

The baby teeth of a horse emerge as soon as he comes out of his mother. In some cases, the two front teeth, located at the top and bottom, even appear before birth. 

The baby teeth of a horse, often called as their milk teeth are generally whiter, smaller, and smoother. A slight indention on their gum line is also visible. 

By the end of the second week of your horse’s life, two sets of premolars will emerge. The premolars of horses are located at the back. At 4 to 6 weeks, their second set of incisors comes out. And at 6 to 9 months, the third set emerges. 

By the time a horse reaches 12 months, they usually have all 12 temporary incisors and 12 permanent premolars. 

At two years old, all the milk teeth of a horse are already fully erupted. Their incisors are all touching and showing wear as well at the same age too. 

In between 2 to 5 years old, some of the milk teeth of a horse will shed as some of the permanent teeth start to come out. 

The baby teeth of a horse will shed based on the order they come out as they are being pushed out by their erupting permanent teeth. 

Permanent Teeth:

The first permanent teeth of a horse, usually the molars, appear between the first 9 to 12 months of their life. At 18 months, all of their baby teeth start to shed and fall as they are being replaced with their second set of teeth - their permanent teeth. 

By the time the horse reaches 3, the permanent centrals are already fully erupted. At 4 ½ years old, their corner incisors erupt. 

And at five, the horse has a complete set of 24 permanent cheek teeth already. In total, he’ll have at least 36 teeth - 24 permanent cheek teeth and 12 incisors. 

Other ways to determine the age of a horse:

Rough Coat

As a horse ages, so does his coat. His coat loses its shine, and he becomes furrier. The skin also becomes thicker and denser. 

Swayed Back

The back of a horse begins to dip downward with gravity as he age. The older a horse is, the more he withers. 

Loss of Muscle Mass

Just like humans, horses start to lose their muscle mass as they get older too. Their flesh becomes looser and harder to firm up. 

An Unhealthy Horse

Common Causes of Deaths in Horses

Colic

Colic is considered as one of the most common causes of death among horses. Once and for all, horses can’t vomit. Unlike us, they can’t take back what they already have eaten. More so, they can’t breathe through their mouth.

With this, they tend to suffer from too much pain when an issue occurs in the gut. In most cases, this could also be the cause of their death. 

Old Age

It’s not a secret that our equine friends will come to an end, which is dark days. But this is undoubtedly inevitable most especially when they have lived for a long time already. 

Horses tend to be more sickly when they reach a certain age too. That is why some owners choose to euthanize their horses than watch them suffer in pain at such old age. 

If this happens, do not blame yourself. You have done your best to keep your horse!

Race Horses

Accidents

Horses, most especially racing horses, are prone to accidents. They also tend to accidentally harm themselves, which causes their death. Some of them even die while being trained. 

Sometimes, horse owners forget to give their horse protective equipment that accidentally harms them too. Also, there are horse owners who stress their horses too much to master what they are teaching them. 

How to Keep Your Horse Healthy

Keeping your horse is harder than you think, but it's worth all the trouble. Here are some of the best practices on how you can keep your horse healthy at all times:

Caring For A Horse

Minimize Stress

Horses are observant, and they tend to get nervous over small things. They get stressed easier compared to other animals, which relatively affect their health. That is why keeping them as stress-free as possible is very important. 

To minimize stress: 

  • Give him his own space
  • Be patient when riding or training him
  • Prepare her for new things (surprises are certainly not for horses)

Horse Eating Grass

Give Him Healthy and High-Quality Food

To keep your horse healthy, feeding him with healthy and high-quality foods, like roughage, is very important. Buying cheaper hay might be tempting but never compromise your horse's health with the food that they eat. 

Schedule Annual Vet Visits

Horses need to be dewormed and checked to ensure their health and safety. They also have to be vaccinated against the following diseases:

  • Equine encephalomyelitis
  • Influenza/ Rhinopneumonitis
  • Tetanus
  • West Nile virus

Conclusion 

Horses are equally amazing and majestic creatures loved by a lot of people for thousands of years. They live longer than other animals too. Undeniably, they are a source of joy to many with how helpful and useful they are to society. 

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