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NAME_________________________________________________________________________________________ ADDRESS_____________________________________________________________________________________ CLUB_________________________________________________________________________________________ 4-H HORSE PROGRAM HORSE SCIENCE This educational material has been prepared for 4-H use by the Cooperative Extension Services of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and State Land-Grant Universities in cooperation with the National 4-H Council and the American Quarter Horse Association. Trade or brand names used in the publications are used only for the purpose of educational information. The information given herein is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of products or breeds of horses by the Federal Extension Service or State Cooperative Extension Services is implied, nor does it imply approval of products or breeds of horses to the exclusion of others which may also be suitable. This material was originally published by the National 4-H Council, 7100 Connecticut Avenue, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815. Programs and educational materials of National 4-H Council are available to all persons regardless of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin or handicap. Council is an equal opportunity employer.
Horse Science: Determinin g the A g e of a Horse b y Its Teeth Pa g e 3June 1989How old is your horse, mister? To such a 4-H1) Number and anatomy of teeth. question, the owner might answer full mouthed, smooth mouthed, he still has corner cups or I don't know as he isn'ta) The foal of either sex has 12 molars or grinders and registered. Such answers tend to confuse the youngster of12 incisors or front teeth for a total of 24 teeth. the motor age, nor can he readily find these answers toob) The mature male horse has 24 molars or grinders easily until he questions the grandfather age group.and 12 incisors or biters plus 4 canine teeth or tushes General features of horses which indicate advancedfor a total of 40 teeth. ages are grey hairs around the eyes and muzzle, deepc) However, the 4 canine teeth located in the depressions above the eyes, slender and hardened muzzlesinterdental space between the incisors and molars erupt and loose heavy lips with a longer grin than youngeronly in the gelding or s tallion. These canine teeth in the horses. But, these features are not accurate enough tomare are underdeveloped and seldom erupt above the estimate ages on younger horses. Since the horse is mostsurface of the gums thus giving the mare a tooth count useful to us from 3 to 15 years of age, we need moreof 36. accurate methods for age determination during this period.d) There are 6 incisors in each upper and lower jaw. The teeth of horses under 12 years old can be mostThere are 2 central incisors at the midline, 2 lateral closely identified with their approximate age. In general, weincisors and 2 corner incisors in each jaw. The corners must examine the incisor teeth for most accurate results. Ofbeing closest to the interdental space. course, the registered horse has a recorded birth date, bute) Anatomy of teeth. By studying the longitudinal many horses are not so fortunate. However, this technique issection of incisor teeth we can see how the tooth wears not foolproof as prolonged droughts, short grazing on sandyas age progresses. soils, cribbers, parrot mouths etc. all tend to make the horse appear different than his actual age. For instance, a horse at2) Examining teeth. 7 years of age grazing in sandy country over a prolonged period might appear to be 8 or 9 by his teeth.Approach the horse gently from the left side and The technique of horse age determination is not new norex amine the teeth by parting the lips with the thumb and especially scientific as it has been passed down for manyforefinger leaving the jaws closed. In examining groups of generations. The basics for determining the age of horses byhorses of mixed ownership ask the holder to part the lips. their teeth are rather simple and is not an art only to beThe angle of bit and size and color of teeth are noted first. guarded by the horse trader or veterinarian. Age can best beFor the next examination grab the tongue with the right estimated by examining the wear and slant of the incisorhand and grab the lower lip with the left hand and the mouth teeth.will open for clear examination of the cups, wear etc.
Horse Science: Determinin g the A g e of a Horse b y Its Teeth Pa g e 4June 19893) General tooth eruption and development by ages. The 2) 2-year-old. All milk teeth in wear. temporary or milk teeth of the young horse are smallish and b) Second period (2 to 5 years). white with a distinct neck. The permanent teeth are much 1) 2 years. Temporary centrals loosen and larger, stronger and have a darker color with distinct cups on permanent centrals erupt. Age d etermination is the younger horse. *Inserts from The Sound Horse, Mich. most accurate from 2-5 years. Shedding of milk Ext. Bull 330. teeth and eruption of permanents may not occur a) First period (birth to 2 years). 2) 3 to 4 years. Permanent laterals erupt. 1) 10 months. All milk teeth have erupted and in 3) 4 to 5 years. Permanent corners erupt. wear at 16-18 months. simultaneously and may overlap one another
Horse Science: Determinin g the A g e of a Horse b y Its Teeth Pa g e 5June 1989c) Third period (6 to 9 years) 2) 15 years. The dental stars are smaller but more 1) 6 years. Age from here on is estimated mainly distinct and more centrally located. by the size, shape and disappearance of cups until 3) 20-21 years. At this age teeth may become 10-12 years of age. Cups disappear at rather shorter, more triangular in shape on the wearing regular intervals beginning with the lower centrals surface, have a noticeable spacing between at 6 years. adjacent incisors and the dental stars may become 2) 8 years. Cups have disappeared in the lower larger and occupy a central position on the wearing centrals and laterals. surface. Also, at this age, the bite is very slanting. d) Fourth period (aged). It is well to note that horses in this age group may 1) 10-12 years. After 9 years the accuracy of age appear to have much younger mouths if they have determination becomes more difficult. At this age had excellent care with regard to lush grazing and the angle of the bite slants more outward than the grain feeding with accompanying good health perpendicular bite noticed in younger horses. By throughout their life. 12 years, the cups have disappeared in the upper incisors and the horse has a smooth mouth.
Horse Science: Determinin g the A g e of a Horse b y Its Teeth Pa g e 6June 1989GLOSSARYAnatomy The science of the structure of the animal body Full mouth When the horse has a complete set of and the relation of its parts.permanent incisors. Angle of bite The outer angle at which the upper and Incisor Slender teeth in front used for biting grass, feed, lower incisors meet.etc. Canine teeth Teeth that appear in the interdental space on Interdental space The gum space between the incisor the male horse at 5 years of age. Sometimes referred to asteeth and molar teeth. tushes. Centrals The first centrally located upper and lowercentral and corner incisors. incisors. Corners The corner incisors or those located back andtooth. adjacent to the forward edge of the interdental space (third set of incisors). Cribbers A bad habit of some horses in which the animal grasps the manger or other object with the incisor teeth, arches the neck, makes peculiar movements with the head, and swallows quantities of air. Called also cribbiting and wind-sucking. Crown of tooth The top of a tooth protruding above the gum. Cups The hollow space on the wearing surface of the incisor. Dental star A star shaped or circle like structure near the center of the wearing surface of the permanent incisors. Laterals The second set of incisors located between the Longitudinal Lengthwise. Parallel to the long part of the Molars Rear teeth or grinding teeth of the horse generally not used to determine age. Neck of tooth The part of the tooth between the crown and root located at the surface of the gums. Parrot mouth The upper incisors overhang the lower incisors and do not properly meet and therefore cause uneven wear. Smooth mouth Refers to the smooth biting surface of the upper and lower incisors after the cups have disappeared at 12 years of age or older. Wear Refers to the amount of use or wear observed on the biting surface of the incisors.NOTES
Horse Science: Determinin g the A g e of a Horse b y Its Teeth Pa g e 7June 1989NOTES
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES, Christine Ta y lor Waddill, Director, in cooperation with the United States Department of A g riculture, publishes this information to further the purpose of the Ma y 8 and June 30, 1914 Acts of Con g ress; and is authorized to provide research, educational information and other services onl y to individuals and institutions that function without re g ard to race, color, a g e, sex, handicap or national ori g in. The information in this publication is available in alternate formats. Sin g le copies of extension publications (excludin g 4-H and y outh publications) are available free to Florida residents from count y extension offices. Information on copies for out-of-state purchase is available from Publications Distribution Center, Universit y of Florida, PO Box 110011, Gainesville, FL 32611-0011. Information about alternate formats is available from Educational Media and Services, Universit y of Florida, PO Box 110810, Gainesville, FL 32611-0810. This information was published June 1989 as CO 201, which is superseded b y 4HHSG01, Florida Cooperative Extension Service. 1.This document is section 4 of 14 of 4HHSG01, which supersedes CO 201, one of a series of the 4-H Youth Development Pro g ram, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences, Universit y of Florida. Date first printed Au g ust 1965. Date revised June 1989. Please visit the FAIRS Website at http://hammock.ifas.ufl.edu 2.R. B. Warren, Universit y of Nebraska. Debbie Glauer, member of 4-H Animal Science Desi g n Team, Department of Famil y Youth and Communit y Science, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and A g ricultural Sciences, Universit y of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.