How to tell the age of a Horse

by his Teeth


The Age of a Horse


Joseph Wiley Nebeker

From eight to fourteen days after birth the first middle nippers of the set of milk teeth are cut, from four to six weeks afterwards the pair next to them, and finally after six or eight months the last.  All these milk teeth have a well defined body and neck, and a slender fang, and on their front surface grooves of furrows which disappear from the middle nippers at the end of one year, from the next pair in two years and from the incisive teeth (cutters) in three years.  At the age of three the next pair fall loose and fall out.  In their place appear two permanent teeth with deep black cavities and full sharp edges.  At the age of three the next pair falls out.  At four years old the corner teeth fall out.  At five years old the horse has his permanent set of teeth.  The teeth grow in length as the horse advances in years but at the same time his teeth are worn away by use, about one twelfth of an inch each year, so that the black cavities of the center nippers below disappear in the sixth year; those of the next pair in the seventh year, and those of the corner teeth in the eighth year.  Also the outer corner teeth of upper and lower jaw just meet at eight years of age.  At nine years of age cups leave the two center nippers above and each of the two upper corner teeth has a little sharp protrusion at the extreme outer corner. At age ten the cups disappear from the adjoining teeth. At age eleven the cups disappear from the corner teeth above and are only indicated by brownish spots.  The oval form becomes broader and changes from the twelfth to the sixteenth year more and more into a triangular form, and the teeth lose finally, with the twentieth year, all regularity.  There is nothing remaining in the teeth that can afterwards clearly show the age of the horse or justify the most experienced examiner in giving a positive opinion.  The tusks, or canine teeth, conical in shape with a sharp point and curved, are cut between the third and fourth year.  Their points become more and more rounded until the ninth year and after that more and more dull in the course of years, and lose finally all regular shape. Mares have frequently no tusks or only those very faintly indicated.