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?