How to tell the age of a horse

It is pretty much well known that one can find out the age of a horse is by its teeth, but how can you actually tell?

It takes an experienced person who ‘knows their horses’ to start fiddling around inside its mouth, it also of course depends on whether she/he to be inspected is ready to comply!

Generally speaking it is best left to the experts, but when you are buying, it is always a useful thing to be able to open and look inside your potential dream horse, to find out if you’ve been told how old she is that this is actually accurate.

In laymans terms, how old the horse is usually determined by the front teeth of which there are 6 on the upper jaw and 6 on the lower. Like children, horses have 2 complete sets of teeth namely the milk teeth (which are temporary) are pearly white and fairly short, and the permanent teeth, which are browner/yellowish in colour and of course are larger.

The swap over from the milk to the permanent teeth occurs at certain ages and this fact combined with the following signs will establish how old she/he is:

At 4 years, another 2 milk teeth have been replaced on either side of the other two centre teeth...

When she/he reaches 5 years old, the corner milk teeth have gone and been replaced by new permanent teeth which look new but are obviously larger.

And at 6 years old these larger newer teeth have begun to lose their new look appearance, looking yellowish/brownish and there is now a full mouth of permanent teeth.

At 7 years the top corner tooth now has a hook on it. Look out for this as at 13 a similar hook appears and this can confuse how old he/she is.

At 8 this hook has disappeared and the tops of the teeth show wear and tear. From this point onwards there is no complete certainty by the amateur – a detailed knowledge of the changes in jaw line and shape of the teeth enables an opinion to be made, so it is best to call in an expert (or an equine dentist) if then you need to know how old she/he is.

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