Average horse lifespan?

30 years is the average lifespan of a domestic horse, wouldn’t you agree? So it’s a shock that the oldest domestic horse lived over twice that long. “Old Billy” died on November 27th 1822, aged 62.

It was a harder time for the working horse, and Old Billy undoubtedly lived a hard life. He was a barge horse, pulling cargo along the sides of canals. A horse pulling a barge can pull 50 times as much cargo as a horse pulling a cart. It was barge horses that pulled society through the Industrial Revolution. They were used right up to the mid-20th Century.

I sometimes wonder if easy living is partly to blame for our horses’ comparatively short lives. At Peak Forest in northern England, barge horses still pull tourists on riverboat trips. Maybe they hold some of Billy’s secrets?

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  1. Farm Gal

    Old ‘Ess’ died at a ripe old age of ‘at least’ 46 and we think closer to 48 – He was ridden by my husband when hubby was a teenager… and after that only ocassionally by the kids when they were still small. Ess wandered around a 1/4 section (160 acres) for decades thereafter, ghosting up on silent hooves to hang his head over your shoulder, checking out whatever you were doing… We called him a ‘reverse roan’. He’d go dark in the winter and white during the hot KS summers. At the time of his demise you could put two or three feedsacks in his sagging old back. Not sure what this proves, but hard work wasn’t on HIS list 😉 … He ate mostly prairie hay with occasional treats of alfalfa. not so much special supplements! We still miss our equine ‘yard art’.

    1. Aimee Thomas

      Currently I am living with my Mother in Elizabeth, Colorado. We live on an acre which houses her 48yr. old horse! “Pogo” has been my mom’s companion for 31yrs. now. He is a gorgeous Roan gelding about 14 hands, a mix between a Welsh pony and an Arabian. His face is almost completely gray now and his teeth can’t be floated because of his age. He doesn’t need them to be! He gets fed and pampered three times of day and is in perfect health.
      Currently he has diarrhea and we are looking for a way to solve the problem. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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