Horse Breeds With Long Lifespans: Top 10 Breeds

Which Horses Live the Longest?

With proper nutrition and health care, the lifespan of a horse is much longer than it used to be. The average domestic horse can live well into their twenties, but many exceed that average by a large margin. In addition to lifestyle, some breeds tend to live longer than others due to genetics.

Which horse breeds have the longest lifespans? The following horse breeds are known to have the longest lifespans:


  • Icelandic Horse
  • American Paint Horse
  • American Standardbred
  • Cleveland Bay
  • Welsh Cob
  • Norwegian Fjord
  • Miniature Horse
  • Appaloosa
  • American Quarter Horse
  • Morgan


When it comes to owning and taking care of pets, how long they’ll live is always on your mind. Keep reading to get an in-depth look at each of these horse breeds and their average lifespan!

Longest Living Horse #1: Icelandic Horse

Average Lifespan: 30-40 years

The Icelandic Horse is a remarkably hardy horse with an exceptionally long lifespan. These horses typically live well into their thirties, with many living up to 40 years old. Interestingly, this is also the breed with the purest bloodlines – Iceland enacted into law in the year 980 AD a ban on the importation of horses from other countries. This ban does not exclude their own – if one of their Icelandic horses should leave the country to visit another, it is not welcome back. This ban has been upheld for over 1,000 years!

I took a trip to Iceland in 2022 and was able to talk to Icelandic horse owners and breeders. I learned that one reason for the extended lifespan of Icelandic Horses is the meticulous and careful breeding. Many Icelanders will not breed any horse that has a health condition for fear of passing that health condition on to the offspring. 

One very special Icelandic horse named Thulla held the title of the oldest living horse for many years. She passed away at the age of 57 after her elderly owner died; it is believed that she stopped eating due to the loss of her lifelong companion.

Longest Living Horse #2: American Paint Horse

Average Lifespan: 30-35 years

The American Paint Horse has a longer lifespan than the typical horse, with the average Paint living into the early thirties. This is especially notable since this breed is more prone to a certain number of diseases than other horses due to its unique immune system. Paint horses excel in Western disciplines and are hugely popular in the United States. The APHA is the third largest horse registry, and there are more than 250,000 registered Paint horses today.

American Paint Horses are known for their loud markings, but they’re not the only ones with flashy coats! To learn about the most colorful horse breeds, visit my article Discover The 11 Most Colorful Horse Breeds.

Longest Living Horse #3: American Standardbred

Average Lifespan: 30-35 years

The Standardbred is to harness racing as the Thoroughbred is to flat racing – the champion breed. Standardbreds may not be the most well-known breed in the United States, but they have been around for a long time and have the oldest breed registry in the country. This breed is friendly, flashy, and athletic. They also have one of the longest average lifespans of any horse breed, with a typical Standardbred having a lifespan of between 30 and 35 years. They are a generally hardy breed, though, like their flat-racing cousins, they are prone to musculoskeletal injuries when training and racing. 

Longest Living Horse #4: Cleveland Bay

Average Lifespan: 30-35 years

The Cleveland Bay is an uncommon breed that originated in England centuries ago. It is known as the only pure breed of warmblood in the world today and is both athletic and strong. While most of the horses on this list are small or light riding horses, the Cleveland Bay is a large and powerful horse that averages 16-17 hands high. The Cleveland Bay has a significant lifespan when compared to other horses of their size, living on average between 30 and 35 years. They are still used in England to pull carriages, but like other warmbloods, they also make excellent jumpers, especially when crossed with Thoroughbreds. 

Long-Lived Horse #5: Welsh Cob

Average Lifespan: 30-35 years

Welsh Cobs are known for their strength, hardiness, and longer-than-average lifespan. Most of them live into their thirties, and many can be ridden (and even shown) into their late twenties. Welsh Cobs are an old breed of horse, with the first mentions of the breed found in writing from the medieval period, defining the horse as a solid jumper and swimmer and strong enough to draw “massive” amounts of timber from the forests. These horses are athletic, strong, and generally considered to be quite healthy.

Long-Lived Horse #6: Norwegian Fjord

Average Lifespan: 25-35 years

Norwegian Fjords are very recognizable for their dorsal stripes and their usually black and white clipped mane. They are gentle horses and are generally unflappable and are known to be highly food-motivated (some may say food-obsessed, though aren’t all horses?) They have long lifespans, living and working well into their thirties. It has been said that purchasing a Fjord between the ages of 15 and 25 can give you just as many years in the saddle as purchasing a more typical riding horse between the ages of 5 and 15. 

Long-Lived Horse #7: Miniature Horse

Average Lifespan: 25-35 years

Within most species, the smallest breeds typically have the longest lifespans. This is somewhat true with equines as well. You will notice that apart from a few outliers, the majority of the breeds on this list are smaller to medium-sized horses. This rings true with the Miniature Horse as well, which typically lives between 25 and 35 years. The oldest recorded Miniature Horse passed away at the very elderly age of 50 years old. The Miniature Horse’s lifespan is especially notable as the breed is prone to a handful of diseases, especially those that are exacerbated by obesity, which can be an issue in this breed unless carefully managed. 

Long-Lived Horse #8: Appaloosa

Average Lifespan: 25-35 years

The Appaloosa is well-known for its beautifully spotted coat, and no two horses of the breed will look the same. The Appaloosa is more than just good looks; the breed also excels in many disciplines and usually makes an intuitive and hard-working ranch horse. Appaloosas have a longer-than-average lifespan, with the typical horse of this breed living to be between 25 and 35 years of age. 

The downside to Appaloosas is they tend to be the poster children for recurrent uveitis, an eye disease that can lead to the horse becoming blind. Over 1/4 of the horses diagnosed with this disease will be Appaloosa. That being said, many of these horses are able to adapt to blindness and continue to live a quality life with no sight.

Long-Lived Horse #9: American Quarter Horse

Average Lifespan: 25-35 years

Speaking of ranch horses, the Quarter Horse is the king of the ranch, with its innate cow-sense and stocky athleticism (and yes, those two can go together, in the Quarter Horse, at least.) This breed also has a longer lifespan and can easily keep up with the other elderly horses on this list, typically living well into the thirties.

The oldest horse I know personally is a chestnut Quarter Horse. As I write this, he is a young 39 years old. That’s not a typo…he will be 40 next year. Being the sturdy hardy horse that he is, he’s still cantering out in the field and keeping up with the other geldings. In general, Quarter Horses are a healthy, long-lived breed.

Long-Lived Horse #10: Morgan

Average Lifespan: 30 years

I personally put Morgan horses on this list because I have known quite a few of them who lived well into their thirties, looking fit as ever. This breed was one of the first breeds developed in America in the late 1700s and went on to play a big role in its history. From pulling wagons and carriages to serving as cavalry mounts during the Civil War, now these horses compete across many disciplines, the most notable being saddle seat. 

Morgans are unique because some of them are gaited, and some of them are not. They’re hardy horses known for being easy keepers. Most Morgans live around thirty years; however, many of them are worked well into their twenties.

Lifespan Of The Average Horse

Horses are among some of the longest-lived domestic animals. Across all breeds, the average lifespan of a horse is between 25 and 30 years. This is, of course, dependent on the excellent veterinary care, diets, and living conditions that we have available for our equine friends in the modern day. Horses didn’t always live this long on average, and many still don’t.

In fact, the typical feral horse today lives only about 15 years, which is likely closer to what the average lifespan of a domestic horse was many years ago. Life in the wild is harder on an animal. Feral stallions live even shorter lives on average, with the near-constant stress from defending their herds against other rogue stallions. 

Which Horse Breed has the Shortest Lifespan? 

Some breeds are known to live shorter lives; this is largely due to their size or a long history of selective breeding. Unfortunately, Friesian horses tend to have the shortest lifespan, only living an average of 16 years. This is the result of breeding that has been too pure for thousands of years.

To learn more about Friesian horses, visit my article Friesian Horse Breed Guide: Facts, History, & Colors.

When Do You Stop Riding an Older Horse?

Knowing when it’s time to retire your senior horse are decrease their work can be difficult. Every horse is different! Once a horse reaches 15 years old, you should start thinking about maintenance for older horses. Things like joint supplements, dietary supplements, and increased dental care. 

The biggest thing is watching how your horse responds. If your horse is getting older and they start dragging their feet more when you ride them, or maybe they refuse jumps much more frequently than they used to, that is usually a sign that they are ready for a change. 

That being said, regular light exercise in the form of long walking or trotting, or trail riding can be very beneficial for older horses, increasing their circulation and enrichment.

Modern Horses Live Longer Than Their Ancestors

While this list is of horse breeds with exceptionally long lifespans, the fact is that modern horses of any breed have a much longer lifespan than that of their ancestors. There is, however, one notable exception, and that is of the oldest horse ever recorded. His name was Old Billy, and not much is known about him (including his breed), but he was born in Lancashire, England, in the year 1760. He died in November of 1822, making him 62 years of age at the time of his death. Old Billy is bound to have the title of the oldest horse ever recorded for some time still, as there is no horse that is currently even close to this age. 

To learn more about the average lifespan of a horse and different developmental stages, visit my article How Long Do Horses Live? Average Lifespan Guide.

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Carmella Abel, Pro Horse Trainer

Hi! I’m Carmella

My husband and I started Equine Helper to share what we’ve learned about owning and caring for horses. I’ve spent my whole life around horses, and I currently own a POA named Tucker. You can learn more here.

Thank you for reading, and happy trails!

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