Regardless of the purpose for which a horse is purchased, it is important to be able to accurately determine its age. It becomes the basis for assessing the breeding possibilities of offspring, performing certain tasks and formulating a diet. Of course, today horses are not bought “from the gypsies”, but even a mandatory passport from an animal with an indication of veterinary and other marks for a good owner is not a reason to refuse additional checks.
CRITERIA FOR VISUAL DETERMINATION OF AGE
The age of a horse can be determined from the first visual inspection:
- on the skin;
- by muscle tone;
- by the color of certain breeds;
- in the teeth.
The first three methods are not very reliable and can be used only as indirect and additional ones. So, with aging in horses, like in other animals, the skin becomes less elastic (the joints visually become sharpened), the muscles lose elasticity. With a dark suit, you can see gray hair on the mane or tail.
DETERMINATION OF THE AGE OF A HORSE BY TEETH
“They don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” – it is no coincidence that our ancestors invented this proverb. It is by the teeth (or rather, by their condition) that the age of the horse can be reliably determined.
A complete “set” in mares consists of 12 incisors and 24 molars (36 in total). Stallions have 4 additional canines. During the life cycle, there are 5 main stages of the formation and change of teeth, which “provide” information about the age.
- eruption of milk (whiter and smaller) incisors: from the first or second week to six months of age;
- abrasion of cups on milk teeth: on the hooks and middle incisors – up to a year, on the edges – from one and a half to two years;
- the formation of adult teeth (hooks – 2.5 years, middle incisors – 3.5 years, edges – up to 5 years);
- the erasure of the cups on the incisors (approximately 2 mm annually) on the lower hooks by the age of 6, the middle incisors by the age of 7, the edges by the age of 8, the abrasion of the upper jaw is observed at the age of 9-11;
- The shape of the incisors, which is sharply changed due to abrasion (rounding and acquiring a triangular shape), is characteristic of animals 12-20 years old, in older ones, the incisor arcs are straightened, and the teeth are closed in a chisel-like manner.
SAFETY RULES FOR DETERMINING THE AGE OF HORSES
Before examination, it is recommended to put on a special yawner on the animal, excluding the possibility of a bite. If it is not there, they approach the horse from the right side and insert the hand over the edge without teeth. In this case, the tongue is pulled aside with two fingers, and with the left hand (grasping the back of the nose and upper lip) they raise their head to the position necessary for examination.