American Quarter Horse Lifespan: How Long Do They Live?

Owing to medical advances and improved veterinary care, Quarter Horses can live longer than their usual ages.

So, what is the average lifespan of an American Quarter Horse? The average lifespan of an American Quarter Horse is generally in between 25 to 35 years of age while some can even live longer. The longevity of the life of a Quarter Horse is dependent on the care that is provided throughout its lifespan along with other factors like genetics and the size of the horse.

Here’s the kicker:

This average lifespan does not comply with every Quarter Horse but relies on several different factors. Let’s have a closer look at the factors and the determination of the age of a Quarter Horse.

Determining the age of a Quarter Horse with its teeth

Determining the exact age of a horse is generally harder unless all documents for the horse (registration papers etc.) are present.

In the absence of formal proofs, we rely on slightly unreliable methods such as examining the teeth of the horse. However, this method is more suitable for younger horses in comparison to old and weaker ones.

You might be wondering:

How do you determine the age of a horse by the teeth anyways? Let’s have a look.

Before going into the method, we’ll take a look at the teeth structure of a horse. They are divided into two sections:

Incisors and Molars.

Incisors are the teeth in the front of the mouth, whereas the cheek teeth consist of premolars and molars.

You might notice canine teeth in between the incisors and the back molars. This signifies that the age of the horse lies in between 4 or 5.

For the rest, let’s have a look at this chart.

Age (in years) Dental structure
Birth No teeth have penetrated the gums yet
1 Only the temporary teeth have grown. Corners show no signs of wear
 2 Corners start to show signs of wearing more prominently. Temporary teeth are fully developed, the root joins the gums.
3 A permanent center tooth starts to grow which is prominent and different from the temporary ones
4 Center teeth are permanent. Canines begin to show
5 Loss of temporary teeth and the appearance of permanent teeth. Also called a ‘full mouth.’

After the age of 5 years old, the determination of age using this method is open to interpretation. Most believe the corners teeth begin to show some wear, the dovetail develops, the appearance of cups, and then upon age, the disappearance of cups.


A considerable problem, as we discussed, is the unreliability of this aging method once the horse reaches an age of around 14 or 15.

This unreliability arises due to variations in the horses’ tooth wear.

The bottom line is:

Pinpointing an age through a horse’s teeth becomes difficult after a horse has grown 14-15 years old.

Health and the longevity of an American Quarter Horse

American Quarter Horses have been able to garner much respect from both English and American communities due to their strength, agility, intelligence, and longevity in comparison to other horse breeds.

Although most breeds live up to a similar age, smaller horses tend to stay active, even in their late 30s or 40s. Due to the large size of an average Quarter Horse, their chances of catching a genetic health disease are a tad bit high.

Statistically, about 50% of horses pass away from age. The rest are more susceptible to catching genetic health disorders, complications from colic, or soundness issues.

Here’s the deal:

With proper care and grooming in their youth, the Quarter Horse can live way beyond their average lifespan as care increases vitality and strength in them.

Factors that affect an American Quarter Horse’s lifespan

Here is a list of factors which have a direct impact on the lifespan of a Quarter Horse:

  • Size (smaller the horse, the longer it will live)
  • Housing (each horse needs about 12×18 feet of space in a barn)
  • Diet and nutritional intake (feeding hay equivalent to 1.5-3% of its body weight is optimum)
  • Exercise (A daily stroll or run does wonders for a Quarter Horse’s health)
  • Grooming and care (Poor hygiene and grooming can lead to several diseases)

Although much of these factors are genetic, some of them can be controlled to an extent.

What’s more:

To keep your Quarter Horse well-fed and taken care of, a specialized nutritional intake has to be maintained. Although they carry enormous weight with very little feed, they still require a very personalized diet.

Alongside a free-feeding approach with hay, feeding a quality horse supplement like Mare Magic can do wonders for you and your horse.

Other than that, make sure your horse isn’t overfed as the chances of becoming overweight are generally higher with Quarter Horses. Excessive weight might make it hard to exercise and could potentially introduce other health issues.

Quarter Horses, despite their warm-blood and calm temperament, are incredibly energetic and active. Because of this, they are famous for races and performing speedy maneuvers.

This dynamic behavior has to be complemented with a similar environment which helps the Quarter Horse in feeling satisfied with the surroundings.

This could be achieved by a spacious barn or a lush pasture for the horse to roam.

Prolonging the life of an American Quarter Horse

Much of the sound aging of the horse depends on proper nutrition.

A specialized dietary program should exist for the horse since no two breeds or two horses of the same breed require a similar intake of nutrients.

Other than proper feeding, it is equally necessary to groom the horse.

I’d highly recommend every horse owner to buy a grooming kit as a regular hair brush would be of no use for a horse. Here’s one that we love.

However, if you want something simple, go with this easy-to-use horse brush.

Also, ensure an appropriate routine of exercise.

Younger horses are capable of much more than their older selves. Owing to their agility and strength, Quarter Horses are quite frequently used as rodeo horses or even as show horses for many competitions.

But here’s the thing:

Once they are old, the owner must gradually decrease the intensity of their exercise routine.

Lesser running and more walking might give an old Quarter Horse the rest it needs.

Aging is also associated with weaker immune systems, and the ability to fight off the diseases gets difficult.

The teeth of the horse can also identify rapid degradation of health. If they’re wearing out or go missing, it usually indicates an increase in the deterioration of health. With proper care, these risks can be greatly reduced.

A general tip for older horses is to put them in use for beginners or children, so they’re only used for walking small distances or simply standing. It also allows the horses to stay active despite aging.

Here’s our article on Quarter Horses for beginners.

A small input for older Quarter Horses could be to clean their stalls or to keep them with a few other horses in a herd. This will add to their quality of life.

Related Questions

Which horse breed can live the longest? In general:

Horses which are smaller and less bulky can live a bit longer as compared to horses which are heavier and taller.

Ponies and Arabian horses tend to live a far longer life as compared to the American Quarter Horse, which is larger than both.

At what age is a horse considered old or senior? Typically, horses over the age of 15 are considered senior and start to develop health issues.

Riding or walking them might be an issue as they begin to show signs of health issues.

How much does an American Quarter Horse cost? You can buy a Quarter Horse for an average of $3500.

According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the estimated (annual) cost of owning a horse is about $2,500. This excludes the stabling costs.

Other Sources

Photo credit:

Jean, CC BY 4.0, via Flickr.

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