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How Long Does a Horse Live?


Life expectancy varies between breeds, but any horse which is taken care of properly will have a better and longer life than one which is neglected.

Horses live many years more than previously. Besides searching for online horse riding lessons, owners are using the internet to find the latest information about the care and nutrition of horses. This keeps them up to date on horse management, which in turn gives their equine friends the best chances for a long and useful life.

The Horse’s Life Cycle

Birth to Four Years

Foals are born with very long legs so they can flee with their mothers in the wild. As yearlings they still look gangly and their growth spurts often result in the croup (hind end) being higher than the withers for a while.

A horse’s growth plates in the long bones of his legs are not fully developed until the horse is between two and two and a half years old. For this reason a young horse should not be worked until he is at least three years old.

At three the horse is ‘backed:’ he gets used to the saddle and rider and learns to performs basic walk, trot and canter exercises. Some trainers turn their horses out for a few months after this so they can finish maturing. After this break they come into full work.

Five Years

By five the horse is fully mature both physically and mentally, although there are variations between breeds. An example is the Lipizzaner, considered to be a late maturer. But these fine animals compensate for this by working at the highest levels well into their twenties.

Fifteen Years

A horse used to be considered ‘aged’ as of ten years old. That has now changed with better care, and the mid-teens are when many horses first show signs of old age, such as a dipped back and stiffer movements.

However, with regular exercise, good management and proper nutrition, a horse can live a productive, full competition life well into his twenties.

A horse in his teens or older is the perfect age for someone learning how to horse ride.

Life Span

In general the smaller horses and ponies live longer than horses, whose life expectancy is anywhere between twenty and thirty years. Some horses live until they’re forty, but this is rare. You’ll find examples of amazingly old horses online.

Horse riding lessons are useful for learning the correct way to keep your horse in shape. The saying ‘use it or lose it’ applies to horses, too. If you maintain an older horse’s mobility with regular riding and proper feeding, he’ll be your equine buddy for many years to come.



Read more topics at the Horse Riding Resources page.


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