Growth stages of a horse

Pregnancy & Birth

A horse’s life cycle begins with conception. The pregnancy of a female horse (mare) lasts about 11 months or 340 days on average. A mare can give birth alone and likes to be alone during childbirth.


A horse is called a foal from birth until it stops nursing. The foal nurses 3-5 times a day and the normal milk intake corresponds to 15-25% of its total weight. It can also eat a small amount of food at about two months of age.


At 3-6 months of age, the foal stops nursing and is called weaning until it reaches its first birthday.

When the foal stops nursing, it needs food that is the right balance of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals.

One year old

When a horse turns one year old, it is called a yearling until it reaches the two-year mark Yearlings have a growth spurt and reach most of their height during this time. Tip: A horse needs a lot of water at 1-2 years of age.

A teenager

At the age of 2-3 years, the horse reaches puberty. During adolescence, the horse’s growth slows considerably. This is an ideal time to train your horse.


When a horse reaches four years of age, it is considered an adult for most horse breeds. Adulthood is the time when the horse stops growing. During this period, the average food intake of adult horses is 2% of its weight. If you are going to use your horse for breeding, now is the time to do it.


Depending on the breed and the horse’s health, it becomes a senior at the age of 15-20. The elderly receive a soft diet and receive additional care. Want to know more about what horses eat? Here’s a great guide to horse nutrition. Horses stop growing physically when they reach skeletal maturity. Foals naturally have growth plates at all bone ends. These growth plates are made up of cartilage that helps bones develop and grow. When the horse is fully mature or has stopped growing, this cartilage fuses with the bone and turns itself into bone. At this stage, the bone is stronger and less prone to damage.