Many factors contribute to the longevity of a Horse. Good nutrition is necessary to enable a Horse (or any living creature) to live a long healthy life. When nutrition is lacking the animal is more vulnerable to disease and slower to heal if injured.
The lifespan of a Horse in the wild is about 19 years. Domestic Horses usually live quite a bit longer. The average lifespan of a domestic Horse is 27 to 28 years, though I have known Horses who have lived into in their thirties and forties.
A conscientious owner will take care that their pet’s physical needs are all met. In addition to nutrition, hoofs need to be kept trimmed so that infections do not occur. Living quarters need to be cleaned often of manure and moisture to prevent hooves problems and to control the worm population.
Protection from extreme weather is important for your Horse’s health as is making sure that your Horses surroundings are free from objects that he/she could be injured on. A few trees in the pasture will provide shade in the summer and wind protection in colder seasons. Horses should always have access to a protected area such as a run-in shed.
Addressing stress and behavioral problems are also important for your Horse to live a long life. If a Horse cribs (chews on) and ingests wood from fencing or in his/her stall, the ingested wood can pierce the intestines and possibly cause death. A Horse that has high energy and is not exercised may become over-stressed, act out and injure himself/herself.
Visits with the vet are needed to keep your Horse safe from rabies, and diseases such as, West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis, Western Equine Encephalomyelitis and more. The healthier your Horse is, the more chance it has to overcome any illness or injury that may present itself.
As strong and impressive as Horses are, they need to be looked after in order to maintain their health and vigor.
Routine checks are the easiest way to ensure that your Horse is doing well. Foot problems can not only hinder your Horse’s mobility, but can also cause greater damage to its health as a whole.
The teeth need to be checked regularly as well. An animal as big as a Horse needs to be able to eat as much as it needs, and dental problems can threaten to restrict its nutritional intake.
Taking the time to examine your Horse on a frequent and regular basis will not only help your Horse, but your vet as well.
With regular checks, problems that require medical assistance can not only be avoided, but also caught early. That way, any treatments will be less extensive. This will ensure a long and happy life for your Horse.
Horses are grazing animals, and their teeth have adapted wonderfully for that purpose. The front teeth, incisors, shear off forage. The cheek teeth, including the molars and premolars with their wide, flat, graveled surfaces, grind the feed to a mash before it is swallowed.
When the Horse’s teeth are rasped or filed down it is known as floating. Floating removes sharp enamel points and creates an even bite plane. It also keeps incisors and cheek teeth at a desirable length.
Some signs of dental problems include:
• Loss of feed while eating
• Difficulty while chewing
• Excessive salivation
• Loss of body condition
• Undigested feed in manure
• Head tilting and tossing
• Foul odor from mouth or nostrils
• Swelling of the face, jaw, or mouth
Lack of proper dental care may cause:
• Sharp points on teeth, causing cuts on cheeks and tongue
• Baby teeth that haven’t been shed
• Discomfort with bit contact
• Hook formation
• Lost or broken teeth
• Infected teeth or gums
• Gum disease
It is incredibly important to properly take care of your Horse’s feet. They are the lifelines of the Horse. Major arteries run through them and every time the Horse takes a step, it increases the flow of circulation throughout the whole Horse. The actual grooming aspects of hoof care are covered in grooming, but some of the adverse effects of improper or negligent hoof care are expanded upon here.
Conditions to look for:
• Puncture wounds
• Sand, heel, and quarter cracks
All of these conditions will need proper cleaning and treatment as soon as they are found.
General Signs the Hooves Need Checking:
- Consistent pointing of a certain foot.
- One hoof being constantly warmer than the others.
- Increased pulse pressure.
- Changes in hoof shape.
- Discomfort when pulling or re-nailing a shoe.
- Degree of motion is exaggerated when turning in small areas or on hard surfaces.
A Horse can, if well cared for and used moderately, live to be 20 or more years old. Cases of 50-year-old Horses are also known! Older Horses are known for their increasing thinness of the head, for the penetration of the eyes into the eye sockets, for the appearance of white hair above the eyes, around the temples and harness bones, and for the lowering of the lower lip. The teeth in old Horses are worn, and sparse.
Genetics also play a role in aging – Ponies, on the whole, live longer than Horses, and certain breeds of Horses (like Arabians) have a reputation for living longer lives.
Though definitely not the norm, Horses can live to be over fifty years old. It is our job to make sure that their years on this earth are happy and healthy ones.