How long do horses live?

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: July 2, 2021


If you are thinking about getting a horse, you may wonder how long different breeds live on average. With more than 350 breeds available, it can be tough to know which ones will live the longest. Of course, each animal is a unique individual, but statistics show that some horses live longer than 40 years while others only live to be about 20. These animals also pass away for a variety of reasons.

#13 How long do horses live: American Quarter Horse – 25-35 Years

How long do horses live: American Quarter Horse
American Quarter Horse Stallion running in an arena. Quarter horses are incredibly versatile. From barrel racing and roping to jumping and dressage, they’re top performers.

American quarter horses live between 25 and 35 years. These animals are prized for their ability to run a quarter-mile, and they are often used in ranch work. They can run over 55 miles per hour for a short distance. They were developed in the mid-1800s. These animals that come in all colors stand about 60 inches tall and weigh about 1,075 pounds.

#12 How long do horses live: Appaloosa – 26-30 Years

How long do horses live: Appaloosa
An Appaloosa horse runs gallop on a meadow in the summertime. The Appaloosa is an American horse breed best known for its colorful spotted coat pattern.

Appaloosas live between 26 and 30 years. These animals come in many different colors, but each must have spots on its coat. This horse, the official state equine of Idaho, is shown in many western classes and used in ranch work. These animals stand about 60 inches tall and weigh about 1,050 pounds.

#11 How long do horses live: Tennessee Walker – 28-33 Years

How long do horses live: Tennessee Walker
Black and White Tennessee Walker running in the snow in a paddock. Tennessee Walkers have a reputation for having a calm disposition and a naturally smooth riding gait. 

Generally, the Tennessee walker lives to be between 28-and-33 years old. As the name implies, this gaited horse was developed in Tennessee and other southern United States locations in the late 18th century. Animals of this breed stand about 63-inches tall and weigh about 1,050 pounds. They are found in all solid and pinto colors. These animals developed for plantation owners have a unique running walk, where the rear feet overstep the prints of its front feet by 6 to 18 inches naturally. When riding one of these horses, the rider has very little up-and-down motion yet travels about 20 miles per hour.

#10 How long do horses live: Paso Fino – 28-33 Years

How long do horses live: Paso Fino
Paso Fino stallion galloping free in summer evening ranch. What makes these horses unique is that they are highly sensitive, intelligent, and willing.

Paso Finos generally live to be between 28-and-33 years old. The Paso Fino was developed in Puerto Rico and Colombia before 1797. These naturally gaited horses stand about 58-inches tall and weigh about 850 pounds. These animals that can be any color are the only breed in the world that can have a tiger eye, which gives the animal an orange-or-amber-colored eye. Paso Finos were developed to ride across plantations, and they are still loved for providing an almost motionless ride.

#9 How long do horses live: Percheron – 30-35 Years

How long do horses live: Percheron
Percheron horses are highly versatile. Around the world, Percherons are used for parades, sleigh rides, and hayrides, as well as being used to pull carriages in large cities.

Percherons originated in France’s Perche Valley, and they live to be between 30-and-35 years old. They are generally gray or black stand about 67 inches tall and weigh about 1,850 pounds. These draft animals may date back to the 1st century, but it was not until Arabian blood was introduced to locally bred horses about 1760 that the breed became a heavy draft horse. They were often used for farm work, but most are used in advertising and to pull wagons at tourist attractions.

#8 How long do horses live: American Saddlebred – 30-35 Years

How long do horses live: American Saddlebred
Saddlebred mare with paint colt in a pasture grazing. Saddlebreds are the oldest American horse breed and used to be called “Kentucky Saddlers”.

The American Saddlebred, who often lives between 30-and-35 years old, was developed in the United States before the American Revolutionary War. They stand about 62-inches tall and weigh about 950 pounds. These love to show and are often used as harness horses. They are the oldest breed of horse established in America.

#7 How long do horses live: American Standardbred – 30-35 Years

How long do horses live: American Standardbred
An American brown Standardbred mare grazing in the pasture. Standardbreds are known for their skill in harness racing, being the fastest trotting horses in the world.

Developed in the United States during the 17th century, the American standardbred generally lives between 30-and-35 years. They stand about 62-inches tall and weigh about 900 pounds. While many of these animals trot, others pace. Some are used in harness racing while others are used in dressage. Many American standardbreds, like Kingsford, race for 13 years before retiring.

#6 How long do horses live: Thoroughbred – 30-35 Years

How long do horses live: Thoroughbred
English thoroughbred horse jumping on the beautiful background of a field. The breed was developed from three stallions.

Thoroughbreds generally live between 30-and-35 years. This breed is often used in racing also makes great jumping and eventing horses. The thoroughbreds known today were first developed in England during the 17th century. They stand about 66 inches tall and weigh about 1,000 pounds. Selective breeding may be lowering this average as more horses are raised for muscle mass, leading to more life-ending injuries. Tango Duke may have been the oldest thoroughbred ever. The Guinness Book of World Records says that this thoroughbred lived to be 42 years old, but that is still behind the nondescript Old Billy, who lived to be 62.

#5 How long do horses live: Trakehner – 30-35 Years

How long do horses live: Trakehner
Trakehner stallion running in a field at sunset. Trakehners are uncomplicated, calm, friendly horses that are willing to work and be ridden.

Trakehner horses often live to be between 30-and-35 years old. This breed was initially developed at Trakehnen, in present-day Yasnaya Polyana, Russia. Olympians have often used these horses in dressage, showjumping, and eventing. These horses stand about 68-inches tall and weigh about 1,200 pounds. It is known for its floating trot and soft canter.

#4 How long do horses live: Welsh Pony and Cob – 35 Plus Years

How long do horses live: Welsh Pony and Cob
Welsh ponies and cobs were bred to be all-purpose horses. They have been used extensively on farms, in the military, for hunting, and commercially in harness. They’re also excellent racers and jumpers.

Welsh cobb horses often live over 35 years. These horses are native to Wales, where their existence is recorded before 1600 B.C. You can still see a small feral herd of these animals near Snowdonia, Wales. These horses vary in height from about 44-to-64 inches. They can be of various colors, with black, grey, chestnut, and bay being the most common. One of the oldest horses ever was Badger, who lived to be 51 years old. Badger was a white Welsh-Arabian cross who lived in Wales.

#3 How long do horses live: Cleveland Bay- 40 Plus Years

How long do horses live: Cleveland Bay
The Cleveland Bay originated in England during the 17th century. · The Cleveland Bay is rare breed with a great risk of extinction

The Cleveland Bay is the oldest established horse breed in Europe, and these horses often live to be over 40 years old. They are a well-muscled horse that is often driven. Fewer than 20 of these horses are registered with the official Cleveland Bay Horse Society annually. These animals should be bay with black legs. These warm-blood horses usually grow to be about 65 inches tall and weigh 1,450 pounds.

#2 How long do horses live: Shetland – 35-45 Years

How long do horses live: Shetland
A running mini Shetland stallion. For their size, they are the strongest of all horse breeds, able to pull twice their own body-weight.

The popular Shetland pony usually lives to be between 35-and-45 years old. This breed originated in the Shetland Isles about 1500 B.C. These horses that stand less than 42-inches tall were first developed to pull heavy carts. Today, they are a popular choice as a children’s riding pony. One of the oldest Shetland ponies to ever live was Ted E. Bear reportedly lived to be 58 years old.

#1 How long do horses live: Shire – 35-45 Years

How long do horses live: Shire
Two beautiful big Shire horses gallop along the beach, kicking up sand against the blue sea.

The average shire horse lives to be between 35-and-45 years old. This horse that is usually black, grey, or bay is among the tallest and heaviest breeds in the world. While very similar animals were used long before, the Shire breed was officially named in the mid-17th century, and a breed registry was established in 1878. The largest to ever live may have been Mammoth, who was later renamed Samson, was a shire who stood 7-feet-1-inch tall and weighed 3,360 pounds.

What Causes Death in Horses?

Many different things can cause death in horses, including:

  • Osteoarthritis – Owners sometimes have to make the painful decision to put down their horse because of osteoarthritis. This chronic, progressive, painful degeneration of the cartilage lining the ends of long bones inside joints causes the horse to lose its ability to move gracefully.
  • Chronic lameness – This disease that changes the shape of the hoof capsule can be caused by neurologic or mechanical dysfunction or an unidentified source of pain.
  • Colic – This is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that can come on suddenly or slowly.
  • Heaves – This is a recurrent airway obstruction that is the most common lung disease seen in horses.
  • Cushing’s disease – Also called pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, this disease causes the pituitary gland to produce excessive hormones. It is often diagnosed by symptoms including excessive drinking, failure to lose winter coat, and weight loss.

Horses are marvelous animals that live for a long time. If you are thinking about getting one, you can count on unconditional love. Before you make the decision, make sure you are ready for a long-term commitment.

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