Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Allison Price
How can you tell the age of a horse by their teeth? James Sheppard is an equine dentist (EDT) who has 17 years of experience and has treated horses in 18 countries, including top-level performance horses. He explains what you should look for.
Although it is easy to age a horse, there are exceptions, particularly for horses that bite or winduck.
First, natural shedding of baby (or deciduous) teeth in a young horse can be very precise, even up to five years old.
There are some characteristics that you should be aware of between the ages 5 and 10 about horse teeth.
- At age seven, the upper corner incisors start to show wear. A small ‘beak” appears on the same incisor. As the horse ages, the size of the cusps (raised areas on the occlusal surfaces (chewing)) decreases.
- The Galvaynes groove begins at 10 years of age and can continue until the horse reaches 25 or 30 years.
- Galvaynes refers to a brown spot that appears near the gum line in the middle of the upper corner. The mark begins to grow and reach halfway down the tooth at 15 years of age, before disappearing completely at 20 years.
- It grows completely over the next five to ten years, making it possible to identify horses between 25 and 30.
- The more a horse gets older, the more acute the angle at which the incisors meet and the triangularity of the incisors.
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Horses get two sets of teeth per lifetime, just like humans. Horses have 24 baby (deciduous) teeth. They usually appear within two weeks of being born.
Stallions aged 40 to 44 years have 40 to 44 teeth while mares of the same age have 36 to 40 teeth. This is because the canine teeth that should be visible in horses around four to five year old are not often seen in mares.