Horse Life Expectancy

When we first started talking about buying a horse, we sought out advice on the internet and from people we knew with horses. It was universally suggested that we should purchase an older horse, 15-20 years old, especially if we we’re mostly interested in pleasure riding. It is reasoned that older horses are generally more gentle and usually have more riding experience. This made perfect sense to us, even though we ignored it to buy the horse (now horses) we have now. As regular readers will know, we have two horses, 6 and 8 years old. That’s pretty young even in “horse years”. One benefit to their youth, however, is that we probably have many years to look forward to, if we keep them (and we plan on keeping them). Just how long could that be? In my quest to answer that question, here’s what I discovered:

  • Although some sources indicate the average horse life expectancy to be between 20-30 years, I found accounts of horses living much longer.
  • The Guinness Book of Records shows a record of 62 years old. The horse was named “Old Billy”, born in 1760. This, however, is not the norm.
  • One of the Champion horses lived to be 41! See Just Like Gene and Roy.
  • Some locals here in Tennessee report horses normally live into their 30’s.
  • We’ve been told that a “Horse year” is equal to 3 human years. This is the “dog years” approach, where we compare horse life expectancy to human life expectancy. The average American is living to be around 78 these days. In “horse years” that’s 26.

To be honest with you, some quick internet research shows “horse life expectancy” estimates all over the place. I’ve seen 20 years old and I’ve seen 46. My non-technical way of making sense of the wild variation is to average it out. My un-educated guess is that, barring unforeseen circumstances, our horses should live to be up to 30 years old. For me, that means when Moonshine is a senior citizen, I will be able to sympathize, as I will almost be one myself.

What have you heard or experienced?

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