How to Age a Horse by Teeth
 By Winniefield Park   •   22nd Mar 2015   •   6,494 views   •   0 comments
How to Age a Horse by Teeth

The answer to can you tell a horseís age by its teeth is: sort of. A horse has two sets of teeth throughout itís lifetime, just like us. The first set are called the milk or deciduous teeth. These baby teeth start growing in shortly after the foal is born and continue to come in until the foal is about nine months old. Theses teeth start to shed when the young horse is about two years old, and will gradually fall out and be replaced by the permanent teeth until the horse is about five.

The new adult teeth that grow in will be cupped on top. Theyíll be nice and white and smooth when theyíre new. Itís the length of the teeth, the state of a specific groove and the cupping that we look at to learn the approximate age of the horse. The younger the horse is, the more accurate the approximation will be, since many things can affect tooth growth. Some young horses have Ďold mouthsí and some old horses may have the opposite. Diet, use and genetics all play a role in the growth and wear of the teeth.

Grass is quite abrasive. When the horse eats grass, it wears down its teeth. Nature provides a natural replacement for worn teeth, as the tooth will continue growing for most of the horseís life. Many people think that horse teeth grow throughout a horseís life. But thatís not true. Some very old horses outgrow their teeth and are left with big gummy gaps. How quickly the horse wears out its teeth depends not only on age, but on what it grazes. Horses pastured on sandy soil may wear their teeth out faster than those on clay soils. Grazing blunts off the cups on the tops of the teeth, and as the horse ages, its teeth become flatter.

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Galvayne's groove grows out above the gumline. By the time the horse is fifteen, this groove will reach halfway to the top edge of the tooth. By the time the horse is twenty, the groove may run the full length of the tooth. By the mid-twenties, the groove no longer meets the gum line, and only appears on the upper part of the tooth. In very old horses, the groove may disappear.

As the horse ages, its teeth become more angled. The shape may become less oval, and more angular. The teeth also go from fresh pearly white of a young horse, to brownish and badly stained as it ages. As the horse approaches thirty years, teeth may start falling out. This is when we need to adjust our horseís feed so they can get good nutrition, even though they canít chew properly anymore. The continuous growth is also why we need to have our horseís teeth checked. Our horses donít graze as much as their wild forebearers, and they can develop sharp edges and painful hooks that need to be filed off. Even young horses should be checked occasionally, to make sure all those baby teeth have come out correctly and are not causing any discomfort.

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