Last Updated on April 15, 2022 by Allison Price
Although it is not possible to accurately determine the horse’s age, you can still examine their teeth to confirm. This can be done safely by an equine veterinarian during your horse’s next dental exam.
Horses’ teeth grow and erupt throughout their lives, unlike humans. The horse’s teeth can be used to determine its age up until eight years old. We can only estimate a horse’s age after that.
This is because horses eat a lot of roughage. Horse teeth are affected by grazing. They become worn and eventually change in colour and shape.
Adult and baby teeth
Horses can have one set of permanent teeth and one set of temporary teeth throughout their lives. This is similar to humans. These temporary teeth are also known as ‘deciduous’ or milk’ teeth. They appear soon after birth and are replaced by permanent teeth around two to three years.
Baby teeth are paler and less prominent than adult teeth.
Each tooth’s concave surface is worn down over years of grazing. Here is a quick look at what you will find in your horse’s mouth over its lifetime.
- Your horse is one year old and has six milk teeth in each jaw.
- Two-year-old horse – Your horse has complete milk teeth incisors that are worn
- Three-year-old – The two central milk teeth incisors have been replaced by adult teeth
- Four-year-old – The next two milk tooth incisors will be replaced with adult teeth
- Five-year-old – The two corner milk tooth incisors have been replaced with adult teeth
- Six-year-old – The corner incisors are dressed; there is a star on the centre incisors
- Seven-year-old – A small hook appears in the upper corner of the incisors
- Eight-year-old – The hook and the black hollow centres have vanished from the teeth.
It becomes more difficult to age a horse by his teeth.
- 12 year old – The Galvayne’s groove is visible on the upper corner incisors, and grows downwards
- 13-year-old – Another hook appears. It is the same as when your horse was seven.
- Galvayne’s groove is now half the way down 15-year-old Galvayne
- 20-year-old – The Galvayne’s groove is at the bottom of the teeth
- 25-year-old – The Galvayne’s groove is gone from the top half the teeth