How to Tell the Age of a Horse by Their Teeth

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did you know you can tell how old a

horse is by looking at his teeth

today we're going to go inside a bunch

of horses mouths to see how old they are

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here at the bar sc what you doing

oh i'm eating lunch can i join you


uh oh i don't i don't know that what

what are you doing

i'm eating lunch you're eating your

lunch i i mean i know we're trying out

this like eat more vegetables and

and greens types of things but um you as

a human

you are designed to eat things like

salad like soft salad and carrots

your teeth are not designed to eat that

that is hay that is hay for your horse

oh today we're gonna look

at why horses teeth are designed to eat

things like

hay and how you can tell how old your

horse is

by looking at its teeth


today we're gonna use nelly the skeleton


show you what teeth are in the horse's

mouth and then

kind of show you how they chew their hay

and why it's important that teeth in a

horse be

the way that they are so the really cool

thing about horse teeth

is that they unlike our teeth which grow

in and

stop growing for the rest of our lives

horses teeth grow

continually which means they can chew

really rough grass like this

but they actually chew it with a

grinding motion that looks like

this and so um what that means is that

the horse's teeth grow

at the same rate as they grind down

um if they do not grow at the same rate

that they're

i'm sorry if they don't grind down at

the same rate that they're growing

sometimes we have to have a veterinarian

come in and help to

file those teeth down so that the horses

always have a nice

smooth surface in order to keep their


grinding perfectly so kind of like this

as they're eating

and then that will make sure that

they're always getting all of the

nutrients out of their

feed that we need the front teeth are

called the incisors

there are six on the top and six on the


the back teeth are sometimes referred to

as cheek teeth

and they are the premolars and the

molars so there are three premolars

and three molars now this horse had

very very dirty teeth but we will go

look at some teeth in our horse's mouth

in just a few minutes a horse's incisors

act a lot like

pliers so as grass is growing or hay

is growing the horse picks it up and

actually can pull it out of the ground

a lot of times they will actually take

the roots of

the plant with them which means that

horses when they're grazing are a little

bit less

good for our soil than cows which can

just act more like scissors they kind of

shear the

hay or the grass off of the ground where

as horses really

pluck it and pull it out so the incisors

have to be nice and strong and they're

used to pluck the

grass out and then the molars back here

are used for grinding and it's going to

make kind of a

sideways just a little bit of a sideways


like that so

the eating of really coarse haze

such as the alfalfa hay that we have

right here is what causes the horse's

teeth to be worn

down and we were saying that the teeth


wear at a pretty consistent rate the

amount that it wears down is the amount

that grows

in occasionally we have some problems

where the teeth grow

faster than they are filed down

and when that happens we have a

veterinarian or an equine dentist that

works with a veterinarian

come in and they will use tools like


and file down the portion of the teeth

that are growing too fast to make them

nice and smooth so that the horse


have what's called a malocclusion or

something where it can't

chew and get the nutrients that it needs

out of that hay

so horses have these incisors in the

front and then they have these

premolars and molars in the back what is

this section that's right here

horses are born with this cool space in

their mouth

with where they don't have any teeth

this is called the bars of the mouth

it's very convenient for us who like to

ride horses

because um the metal piece called the


that's on your bridle can sit lightly in


and it just doesn't get um it doesn't

interfere with any teeth

and that is um that causes the horse not

to have any pain

when we're moving the bridle and the bit

around in its mouth

so that's really kind of cool that

they're born that way and we don't have

to remove

any teeth to make room for that bit so

horse's teeth are super interesting

in how they wear down and they grow out

but did you know we can also tell how

old a horse

is based on what their teeth look like

so the way that we can tell how old they

are is we can look at the shape of the


so at what angle the tooth is coming

out of the mouth and then by

how long the teeth are and then also by

the shape

that the teeth are when you look at them

from the top

and um so we're gonna go through some of

the horses that we have here on the

ranch and we're going to show you horses

that are really young

and horses that are really old a young

horse is going to have

actually fewer incisors so they come in

at different ages

and we'll talk about that in a minute

but they come in really straight up and

down and really

round on the top and over time as that

horse continues to

we were talking about how they reach

down and they grab

the grass or the hay out of the ground

it causes the teeth to elongate and be

pulled out this way

and that changes the shape of the tooth

as it wears down on the top

and then also changes the shape as when

you look at it from the side

it's no longer straight up and down it

comes in like this and then the older

they get they have they get a few more

teeth also they're not born with all

um 36 teeth so that's how we're gonna go

look at some of our horse's teeth and

you can tell how old they are

so alfie being just two

does not even have all of his teeth yet

so his incisors are just starting to

grow in

he's got the four front ones and then

some of the next set

but not all of them so this is willy

willy is about seven years old so he's

our next youngest horse

and as you can see he's now finally got

his full

set he's got six teeth on the top

and he's got all six teeth on the bottom

as well

if you look at him from the side they're


when you look at them from the side

they're still pretty straight up and


as far as the way they're growing in and

they're still pretty small as well so

they haven't gotten much

longer and elongating out quite yet and

he does not have something called a

galvanous groove

so we'll show you what the galvanus

groove is it's a little groove that

comes in on horses about when they turn

10 years of age

and so we'll go find a horse that's a

little bit older and has one of those

coming in

this is nemo he's uh over nine years old

so he's approaching 10

and he is just just now starting

i gotta wipe away his slobber he's

slobbering are you slobbering he's just


starting to get the galvanus group which


this little portion on the tooth i am so

sorry he's very slobbery

and notice that his teeth are just just


to instead of come in straight up and

down they're starting

to move to push out just a little bit

so we can tell that he's getting a

little bit older

so dylan's 15 so his galvenus groove

should be well defined and about halfway

down the tooth

he also has a couple other weird things

going on in his mouth

you'll notice he's actually missing

quite a few

of his top teeth and he's missing these


all because he tore them out on one of

his feeders back when i first got him so

it was a little bit of an

injury that he had we had the vet out he

removed him the whole way he's all good

but you can look at the side here and

we'll see his little groove

running right down the side of this

tooth you can see that it's down

most of the way so dylan being

15 still has his galvanus truth but it's

also very well defined because he's well

over the age of 15

or well over the age of 10. but looking

at him from the side

something a little weird about his mouth

and we're talking about the angle of the

teeth and whether they're straight up

and down or meeting it more

you know close to a 90 degree angle in

their old age dylan has what we would

consider in humans as an overbite

so looking at his teeth his top teeth

actually do not quite meet up with his

bottom teeth at all

they're over and more forward than his

bottom teeth and looking at his nose you

can see a little bit

why i really love his giant schnauze

that's not the way that his face is

supposed to look it has to do with his


and that what we call in horses a parrot

mouth which is what we would

refer to in humans as an overbite so

dylan's an off-the-track thoroughbred

and one of the ways that we identify

racehorses like dylan is they'll

actually put a tattoo on their upper lip

with a number

so it's a letter followed by a series of

numbers and dylan has one of those

tattoos in his upper lip

and if you look it up in the jockey club

database you can actually find all of

his racing history

and that's something they did for the

thoroughbreds to help provide them with

a better home

after their racing careers because

people could go in and look them up and

find more information on them it made

them a lot more trackable

so fewer of them ended up in bad

situations so with charlie who's

26 you can see her galvanus groove is

stretching actually just about to the

very bottom of her teeth and actually it

is if you feel the tooth

you can feel there's a ridge all the way

to the bottom it's just a little hard to

see to the naked eye

and the galvanus groove in horses

doesn't serve a purpose

and it's not caused by something that

the horses are doing it's actually just

a certain portion of their tooth

that as it grows down and is filed down

it appears throughout you know a certain

range of ages so let's say they've got

you know a tooth that's about this long

because like michelle was saying they

wear down their tooth throughout their

entire life so they have a really really

long tooth

not like ours that are short and stay

with us our entire life but are really

long too that they're slowly wearing the

end off

as it grows down into their mouth so the

galvanus groove is just a section of

that tooth

that appears throughout the ages of

about 10 to about 20 it reaches the


and then after 20 it's going to start

disappearing so the tooth is going to

start growing in from the top

without that groove present so we have

josie here

josie is over 30 years old

her teeth are now you can see

a significant angling

they're definitely showing to be a lot


a lot longer look at this bottom tooth

see how

long that is so that's what a horse

the galvanus groove is gone oh it's a

little bit down there but it's going


it's not anywhere up here and um

she's definitely what they look like

when they get a lot older

thanks for joining us today i hope you

learned a little bit about how you can

look at a horse's teeth and see what


what age they are it's really important

to be able to tell how old your horse is

um because if you ever want to go and

buy one or

if somebody tells you a horse is a

certain age you want to make sure you

can verify that you know within a couple


and um so we hope you learned how to do

that and that you had some fun with us

if you enjoy this video we'd love to

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