Did you know, a horse has a few life cycles to go through before it is considered to be a pony or a horse. When a horse is first born it is called a foal, and unlike humans, they can walk, trot, canter and even gallop just a few hours after they are born! They rely on their mother (the mare that gave birth to them) to provide them with nutrition and from around 3 months old they can start nibbling on grass. Once a foal hits 1 year old, it goes on to whats known as a yearling, the next stage in the horses life cycle. They will usually have quite a short body but really long legs for their age, and around the age of 2 they will start to look more like a pony or horse. It is important that you never try to ride or put a saddle on a foal or yearling, in fact quite a lot of trainers will usually wait until the horse is at least 4 years old before they try to break them in. Some trainers will start them earlier and some will also start them later, there isn't really a set rule.
Although mature enough to be ridden from around 5 years old, until they hit around 10, most horses and ponies are known to be quite mischevious. They're full of energy and just want to enjoy themselves, dependent upon the breed as well. Having said that, most horses are usualy in their prime from around 6 years old up until they are 12, and then from that point on they are more or less middle aged. However, just because they are middle aged doesn't mean they're not as fun or loving any more, in fact most people don't start to think about reducing their horses work loads until they hit around the 17 years old mark. A horse is considered old and will most likely be semi-retired or fully-retired by most riding schools when they hit 20 years old. A lost of people will still ride them as they get older, but they will simply use them for leisure purposes such as hacking as opposed to competitions.
In rare cases, a horse can live till its around 38 years old depending on the breed and living conditions, but the average is much less than that with most not making it past 30 years old.
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