Life Cycle Of A Horse Facts And Figures!

Last Updated on January 21, 2022

Have you ever wondered how the life of a horse compares to other animals? What is the equivalent of a toddler or teenager in horse years? Let’s find out with our life cycle of horse facts and figures!

What Are The Different Life Stages Of A Horse?

Horses are fairly straightforward mammals, and their life cycle follows a similar pattern to a human. However, some of these stages are of different lengths to enable the horse to survive as a wild animal.

If you want to know the life cycle of a horse’s facts and figures, we’ve got them all right here!

There are four basic stages to the life cycle of a horse:

  • Infancy

Infancy is the childhood phase of the life cycle of a horse. The infancy of a horse is normally divided into two parts. When a foal is firstborn and is dependent on its mother for milk, it is called a foal. As it grows and starts to eat other foods, it then becomes a weanling.

The other term used during the infancy of a horse is the neonatal period. This is the name given to a newborn foal, and this is a particularly vulnerable time for the infant equine.

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  • Adolescence

As the foal grows and matures it moves into the adolescent period. This is the equivalent of a human teenager, and an adolescent foal can behave very much in the same way!

During the adolescent period, the horse is growing and maturing, and it will also start to reach sexual maturity. In fact, adolescent horses are normally physically capable of reproducing, although horse breeders tend to wait until the horse is older for this to take place.

It is not uncommon for adolescent horses to be ridden, particularly in sports such as horse racing. However, the musculoskeletal horse is not fully developed at this stage, and injuries can easily occur. Care must be taken to avoid putting too much strain on immature bones when working with a young horse.

  • Adulthood

When a horse reaches adulthood, it is physically mature and fully grown. An adult horse is capable of reproducing, and in the wild, they will do so throughout their adult life. In domesticated horses, we regard adulthood as the time when the horse is most capable of carrying out physical work.

As the horse progresses through adulthood, his mental capacity will change and develop. Younger horses tend to be more excitable, particularly in new situations. As a horse gains life experience, he will become more level-headed and better able to accept different experiences.

  • Geriatric

Like humans, the final stage of a horse’s life cycle is old age, referred to as the geriatric years. During these years, the horse’s body will start to degenerate, and it will become more susceptible to age-related illnesses. Older male horses may still be able to reproduce during the geriatric years, but females often lose the ability to maintain a pregnancy successfully.

Let’s find out some more life cycle of horse facts!

life stages of a horse

How Long Is A Horses Life Cycle?

So, if a horse has the same life stages as a human, does that mean they are the same length? Well, to start with the life of a horse is much shorter than a human! So, it stands to reason that the life stages of a horse will be shorter than that of a person.

The infancy stage of a horse’s life cycle is the shortest stage of all. A Foal will suckle from its dam until around six months of age, and it then becomes a weanling. Once the foal reaches one year of age, it enters adolescence and becomes a fully mature adult at around four to six years of age.

Most horses are broken in for riding at three or four years of age. It is not uncommon for racehorses to be backed as young as two years of age. This means that horses are often ridden before they are fully physically mature.

The age at which a horse is considered to be geriatric is normally around 20 years, although this varies according to the breed and type of horse. For example, small ponies such as the Shetland pony have a longer lifespan, with many of them living until over the age of 30. In comparison, the Thoroughbred has a shorter lifespan and will reach old age much sooner.


So, as we have learned in our summary of the life cycle of horse facts, this can be divided up into four different stages. The longest of these stages is adulthood, where the horse is fully grown and able to reproduce. A young foal is very vulnerable and will grow quickly to become an adolescent and then an adult.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about the life cycle of a horse! Do you have a geriatric pony that still behaves like an adolescent? Or maybe you have a question about how horses grow and mature? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!

How Many Life Cycles Does A Horse Have?

A Horse goes through four different stages through its life. The first of these is when it is a foal, and is dependent on other horses for survival. It then moves into adolescence, where it can survive independantly but is not fully mature.
The third stage of a horse's life cycle is adulthood, where it is fully grown and can reproduce. The final stage is old age, the geriatric years.

How Does A Horse Grow And Develop?

The way that a horse grows and develops is uniquely adapted to enable them to survive in the wild. Young horses are notorious for their long, gangly legs, but there is actually good reason for this!
When a foal is born, it weighs approximately one-tenth of its adult weight, with a small body. However, the legs of a foal are already 90% of their adult length! This means that a young foal can run and keep up with the herd, helping to keep it safe from predators.