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Horse Care and Comfort

Ageing A Horse By Teeth

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According to the information I was given by the previous owner, my gelding is 9 years old - he will be 10 in October. However, several people, including a vet and a dentist have aged him at an estimate of around 12 years old. So I did a bit more digging and managed to get hold of his breeder, who confirmed that the original information I was given is correct and that he is 9. He cannot be any older as she only started breeding from the sire in the year before he was foaled. Unfortunately, he has no actual papers. This is not the first time this has happened to me, as a previous mare I owned was aged at 11, 15 and 16 by a vet and two different dentists. When I received her papers she turned out to be 14. From my (limited) experience, it seems a rather inaccurate way of determining a horses age. Has anyone else had a similar experience to this?



Hey Emlaw, take heart, almost everyone that I have met whom owns horses (with scant records) has experienced this, myself included. As all of us know, it is sometimes (not always) fairly easy to age horses under 8 years of age, from teeth, e.g. the seven year hook, thence at 13. I would go with the breeders recollection if it were me.

Here is a helpful table/guide:

5 yr: I 3 is erupting. Dental star in I 1.
6 yr: Dental star in I 2. Cup gone from I 1.
7 yr: Dental star in I 3.
8 yr: I 1 is trapezoid, with white spot in dental star.
9 yr: I 2 is trapezoid, with white spot in dental star.
10 yr: Cup gone from I 2. Mark on I 1 is oval-triangular.
11 yr: White spot in dental star on I 3. I 1 and I 2 have lingual apex. I 3 is triangular with labial apex.
12 yr: Cups gone from all lower incisors.
14 yr: Marks on I 1 and I 2 are small and round.
18 yr: Marks disappear from I 1.
20 yr: Marks are gone from I 2 and I 3.

As well, here is a site that you might find helpful.

The equine vet/dentist that I have dealt with for 40 years, tells me that there are so many variables associated with using "teeth" as a guide that this method is completely unreliable unless gauging horses that are under 8 years of age.

So, as you have surmised, it is indeed a very inaccurate way of determining a horse's age.



Well, live and learn as the saying goes, my German friend has just sent me a link that is very interesting on studies done in his country, and published in 2007 on "Galvayne's Groove" and the 7 year hook, which I personally still use as a guide. Maybe I should be rethinking that as well?...lmao...this is so much fun.. : )
You can decide for yourself.