As a horse owner you might have asked yourself severally, how long do horses live? Thanks to modern day technology, there is so much information available on what to do or what not to do to increase your horses’ lifespan. Just like normal human beings, proper care will go a long way in increasing the longevity of your horse. Veterinary medicine has also made significant advancements influenced by the willingness of private owners to invest in the study.
The average lifespan is 25-30 years, though nowadays it is not a rare occurrence to see some horses outlive that to even 33+ years. This, however, varies depending on the breed. There are three general categories which include; cold bloods, warm bloods and hot bloods. Hot bloods such as the Thoroughbred are famous for speed and endurance. Ponies and draft horses are cold bloods suited for heavy work. Warm bloods are a crossbreed between the two, purposely developed for riding.
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Currently, there are over 300 breeds of horses in the world that serve different purposes. Some examples include;
* Geldings. Their lifespans are mostly determined by their fame or the owner’s decisions.
* Mares. They are valued for their gestations. The success that results therefore from breeding in one lifetime, and sometimes the owner’s kindness, will influence how long they live.
* Stallions. They don’t run as much to minimize the risk of losing them as breeders.
In comparison to horses, ponies live longer. Based on information submitted by readers gathered over time, there have been instances of a few horses and ponies that live even up to the age of 40. Verification can prove a challenge because of change of owners or missing paperwork required to gauge the age. The world’s oldest horse is recorded to have been 52 years. Smaller breeds of horses tend to live longer than the bigger breeds.
Did you know: Horses in training spend 22 hours on average in stalls?
Comparison of Human to Horse’s Age
Though not 100% accurate, researchers have come up with comparisons of human age to horses. Just like genetics, health, nutrition, and size affect aging in human beings; the same can be said for horses. Ponies have been reported to mature faster than horses and also have a longer lifespan. Ages of horses that participate in competitions are counted in the Northern Hemisphere on 1st January and 1st August, in the Southern Hemisphere.
Horses at a year commonly referred to as foals or yearling and are compared to six-year-olds. Of importance to note is that after being weaned off from milk, horses become completely independent. Infants at six years are still being nurtured and cared for till a later stage in life. Infants may take up to a year to walk, but horses do this within at least an hour after birth. Solid food is introduced to babies at six months, but horses will be seen nibbling on grass in a couple of weeks or even days.
A horse at age two is equivalent to your child just getting into his/her teen years. Once children turn 18, they are considered to be adults. A horse at this stage would be celebrating its third birthday. A four-year-old horse is at the same level as a young adult at 20 years, while a five-year-old horse would be well into their mid-twenties. Male and female horses under the age of four are referred to as colts and fillies respectively. In the British Isles world, horses under the age of five still go by these names.
The ages of 7-10 in horses equate to the late twenties to mid-thirties for human beings. A middle-aged man at 43 would be considered a 13 years old horse, and a person in his/her 60’s would be 20 years old as a horse (also called the senior stage). A horse’s 30-year-old phase is considered an extremely old age which would be 85 years for a normal human being. According to these numbers, the development as you can see is quite the comparison.
Did you know: Horses have the largest eyes of all land mammals?
Signs of Ageing in Horses
Different horses age differently. Horses are considered to be senior from the age of 15. Some horses may still appear young well in their 20s. Similar to human beings who age differently, factors such as genetics, nutrition and the surroundings of the horse will contribute to how they age. Both external and internal signs will indicate this. Below are some common tell signs you might notice;
* The back sinks and the area appears as if there is a dip. This is due to the weakening of the ligament that plays the role of support. The horse may lose muscle as well and becomes bony.
* In some horses, the joints in their legs, hind legs especially, may drop. This will lead to change in movement. Arthritis or weaker muscles often cause this.
* A hollowed depression around the eye and drooping lips.
* Grey hairs around the eyes and muzzle area.
* The hair coat fades in color with time.
* The skin may feel dry and thicker. The hair will have the same feeling too.
* Cuts and bruises will take a longer time to heal.
* Worn out, stained teeth. Some teeth in the back may be missing.
* The overall energy is reduced especially in retired horses. The muscles are no longer as active and therefore become smaller and weaker.
Some of the above signs may be indications of underlying problems such as neurologic conditions. Veterinary care at this age is therefore crucial to detect any abnormalities and remedy the situation. Along with medical care, a balanced diet, exercise, and weight management are important to ensure your horse’s well being.
Did you know: Some pharmaceutical products are derived from the urine of pregnant mares?
How to Increase the Lifespan of your Horses
The good news is that there are various methods you can employ to their care to enable them to live a longer life. The most common health problem faced by horses based on research conducted by the Tuffs veterinary clinic is colic, musculoskeletal diseases like arthritis and respiratory disorders in that order.
1. Dental care. A horse’s teeth can be used to make a rough estimate of its age. Grazing wears down teeth in a horse. Therefore, with time, they experience changes in the shape and form a wear pattern.
Dental care and the diet of a horse affect the condition of its teeth as well. With age, horses’ teeth tend to wear out and become misaligned. This can create a myriad of problems for your horse. Feeding becomes difficult as a result of painful chewing. This will ultimately lead to colic or weight loss due to the inability to feed properly.
2. Proper diet and nutrition. A balanced diet is extremely crucial to maintaining good health of your horse. Just like in human beings, different ages have different dietary requirements. Their lifestyle will also primarily affect the nutrition they need. For instance, athletes need a lot of energy giving foods to fuel their bodies.
Young horses also require more proteins, vitamins, and minerals compared to middle-aged ones. Nowadays there are feeds specifically formulated for specific needs and ages of your horses, and so feeding has been made easier.
3. Parasite control. The vast array of products available on the market today for pest control has taken an enormous burden off of horses and their owners. Regular deworming is encouraged to protect horses from diseases that arise from parasites. The need becomes increasingly significant as they age.
4. Regular vet checks. If you are concerned about the long-term health of your horse, you should consider going for a veterinary check more often. Do not wait until there is a problem with your horse to do so. In the case of a problem, regular check-up will ensure that it is detected and taken care of before it gets out of hand. An annual or bi-annual check up is ideal for this.
5. Outdoor time. Contrary to popular belief, it is vital to the overall health of your horses to spend time outdoors. Confining them to stalls all day long will affect their health negatively in the long run. This also applies to senior horses and those with conditions such as arthritis. Minimizing their movement is not a solution.
Regular movement helps to keep your horse’s joints and muscles strong and toned. Turnout at low intensity will go a long way to making them physically fit. It also improves their respiratory health. Experts advise to let them roam to prevent them from growing weaker by the day.
Did you know: Exertion during racing causes lung bleeding in at least 90% of the horses?
What you Should Know about Senior Horses
For beginners, it is highly recommended to use senior horses. Not much maintenance is required. A little goes a long way to providing you with the companionship that you need. The senior and retired horses are used to keep the younger horses company and guide them. However, there are a lot of factors you need to take into consideration when caring for a senior horse.
They do not tolerate change well and so should be kept in familiar environments. Also, they should be well protected from extreme weather conditions. Make sure that they are kept warm in the winter.
At their age, their immune systems are weakened and highly susceptible to disease. Dental care at least bi-annually is necessary at this age. Feeding becomes uncomfortable due to overgrown teeth. For seniors with missing teeth, there are a variety of senior feeds available in the market tailored to make it easy for them to chew. Veterinarians may also recommend supplements that will boost your senior’s health.
Although a painful and difficult decision, euthanasia is often considered when complications arise for the horses. A few number die peacefully in their sleep.
Did you know: Confining horses to prolonged hours in stalls could lead to ulcers? A whopping 90% suffers from this problem due to an unnatural feeding program and stress.
Horse Products that Improve Overall Health
1.HealthyGut Probiotics for horsesThis is a healthy blend of bacteria carefully selected for horses. It is helpful to horses that are performing, competition races, stressed or lactating horses. The bacteria in the feed is dried and frozen for preservation to support the daily functioning of the immune system. Probiotics act as supplements in this day and era thanks to medical technology, to contribute to a balanced gut for good health.
It protects the horse’s body from harmful pathogenic bacteria and allergens, toxins, chemicals, pollutants, etc., which cause health problems. Feed your horse one scoop (8 grams) daily to get the most out of this nutritious feed.
2. Vita Flex Accel
This is a health and wellness formula designed with vitamins and minerals that are essential to the well-being of your horse. The mixture also has yeast and microbial cultures to assist in digestion. Enzymes that protect the digestive tract have also been incorporated into the formula. The best thing about this formula is that it can accompany any feeding program.
For weanlings and yearlings, they should be fed 1/2 oz. Daily and gradually increase intake as they grow. Supplementation of this formula should be proportional to the size of the breeds. Mature horses with little to moderate activity should be fed two scoops (2 oz.) daily. Get this formula today to ensure that your horses’ vitamins and minerals level are up to par.
3. HealthE Maximum Strength Vitamin E
Heath-E Maximum Strength Vitamin E is high level designed to restore optimal performance in senior horses and horses facing neurological issues such as motor neuron issues, EDP, shivers, EPM, PSSM, etc. It is made from soybean oil, and all the 8 pure forms of Vitamin E. Vitamin E has a lot of benefits including; Boosting immunity, alleviates liver problems and eye disorders, builds a shiny hair coat especially for breeding and competing horses, helps with neurological problems, and many others.
This product is designed by veterinarians from Equine Medical and Surgical Associates who have vast experience spanning across decades. They give free veterinary support to horse owners using this product. You can rest easy knowing that the products you are using on your horse are certified and verified in different external facilities.
4. Horse Health Apple Dex
This is an apple flavored supplement that can be used for all types of horses. It is rich in sodium, potassium, calcium and trace minerals. They help to keep the body fluids at a normal level. It is an important supplement that ensures the horses’ electrolytes lost through perspiration, competition or intense training is replaced. It can be mixed with water or feed for the horse. Due to its sweet flavor, you may notice increased appetite from your horse when it is blended with feed or water.
In some horses, this product has been found to prevent colic and help horses make a smooth transition from warm to cold temperatures conditions and vice versa. Feed 1-2 oz. in their feed or drinking water in the place of salt.
5. EQUINE WORM TEST
This is a home test that is performed on the stool of horses and other livestock as well. These include; cattle, goats, sheep, camels, chicken, pigs, etc. You will only need to collect one teaspoon of stool and mail from your home or stable to their licensed lab vet. Testing is done by certified veterinarians within 24 hours where you will have the results of the stool test. Recorded results are sent via fax or email. This information is vital to improve your control program.
The extensive research that has gone into this program allows accurate diagnosis of the problem. It enables identification of worms, types, sources and a program to rid your horses of the menace. Our track record speaks for itself with more than 75% of horses test negative after a year into our program.
This helps you save time and money too. You will be able to save hundreds of dollars in feed costs and dewormers once your horse is worm free. There is also the option of additional tests such as eye disease, poor coat, weight loss, egg counts, etc.
6. WormFree Naturally-Natural Horse Wormer
This natural dewormer powder works mechanically for horses, cats, and dogs to erode the outer covering of the parasites. It is fatal to parasites as it causes loss of body fluids and dehydration. It mitigates the re-infestation of the parasites by ridding the larvae from the manure. In it are probiotics that are an integral part of the body’s immune and digestive system along with trace minerals.
The formula works mechanically and therefore prevents the parasites from building immunity in the horses’ body. It is entirely safe for your horses and even creates a shinier hair coat for your horse.
7.Equine Miniature Horse Pony Dental Mouth Gag
Equine Miniature Horse Pony is a dental mouth gag for miniature horses and ponies. It is made from stainless steel which has a smooth satin finish attached to leather straps. It has veterinary certified bit cups on the upper and lower jaw to promote and maintain good dental health care. Dental health is imperative for the overall health of the horses and should not be neglected.
Did you know: A castrated male horse of any age is called a gelding?
Horse Ownership Costs
There is the initial cost of purchase which is determined by the breed, age, and pedigree of the horses. The location is a key determinant of the price too. A small pony, for instance, could go for a few hundred dollars while a pedigree horse could cost several thousand dollars. Do not forget to include the cost of travel to different locations to view potential purchases. A solicitor would also be a wise option to consider for setting up agreements regarding ownership of the horses. Again, their fees will vary but a safe figure will be $100.
The other costs you will incur are ownership costs that may either be one-time purchases or regular costs. They include;
* A veterinary check is necessary to understand the horse’s suitability depending on your goals and its condition. This will enable you to make an informed decision before purchase to determine if it suits you.
* Whether you decide to go for a used trailer or a new model, it may be the most expensive item on your list. The price range is $1500-$50000.
* Horse riding equipment should be top of your list too. You could opt for used equipment to minimize the costs. A wide range is available in the market.
* Horses feed on hay and grain. The annual costs total up to about $3,300 but factors such as location, type and season of the year will cause variations in prices.
* Good farrier care that involves trimming and shoeing at least once every eight weeks is ideal for your horse. This will prevent joint problems or alleviate the strain in case of an existing condition.
* Boarding costs. For those who dream about horse ownership but simply don’t have the space needed, boarding costs are an alternative option. The cost is relative depending on the location, facility and services offered. Monthly costs average about $500 to $1500.
* If you intend to take up horse training, sessions cost at least $25 an hour and may go up to $850 monthly for certain functions.
* For medical care, consider dental care, vet fees, examinations, deworming, and vaccinations. It is important to keep your horse healthy to increase its lifespan.
* Emergency insurance covering mortality and major medical is highly advised. The different policies available determine the amount deductible annually.
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