How to discover your horse age

Do you know how to discover your horse age?

The method of How to discover your horse age has been a well-known technique among horse breeders and livestock rearers for centuries. It involves peering into a horse’s mouth and examining its teeth, observing the condition and growth of the subject’s pearly whites.

From here sprouts the old saying “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”; which is to mean, don’t examine its teeth – which is how to discover your horse’s age – as you might have been given an old horse as a gift.


However, veterinarians and veterinary scientists tell us that this method of how to discover your horse’s age isn’t quite all that accurate. Sure, when the horse is young, looking at the teeth is a good way of gauging its approximate age. But, as the horse ages, a whole range of factors – such as diet, genetics, and maintenance – can affect the growth and overall condition of the horse’s teeth, making it a more and more inaccurate way of how to discover your horse’s age as time goes on.

Still, by peering into a horse’s mouth, one can estimate a horse’s age somewhat accurately, give and take a couple of years. To do this, one must take into account other factors than just teeth in how to discover your horse’s age.

Baby Teeth

Soon after the horse is born, it grows milk teeth, which are smaller, smoother, and whiter than regular teeth. First to appear are the central incisors and hind premolars. At week 2, more premolars appear. Weeks 4 to 6 would see your horse growing its second set of incisors. The incisors would be complete by the time the horse reaches 7-9 months of age.

Once a horse has 12 temporary incisors, 12 permanent premolars, and 4 molars, it usually means that the horse is around 1 year of age. At year 2 all of the milk teeth will have sprung and the temporary incisors will have started to show wear. At 2 and ½ years of age, the second set of permanent molars will have replaced the temporary ones.

Galvayne’s Groove

All baby teeth will have been shed by 4 and ½ years. Once a horse has shed its baby teeth, it grows a permanent set of teeth. In a young horse, these permanent teeth are quite concave on their top surfaces, forming a sort of ‘cup’ shape. This ‘cup’ characteristic gradually disappears over time as the horse’s teeth wear.

Galvayne’s Groove

The shapeliness of a horse’s teeth, along with the angle of their growth are indicative of the horse’s age. Most vital of the features on the horse’s teeth, however, is a vertical groove on the outer surface of the tooth that slowly grows out, called Galvayne’s groove. First manifesting in the upper corner incisors, this groove gets longer as the horse ages. This, along with the aforementioned indicators, are factors that suggest how to discover your horse’s age.

After a horse turns 5, gauging age from tooth growth starts becoming unreliable and instead, estimating it from the wear on the teeth is the only good way of how to discover your horse’s age. This is mostly done by looking at the disappearance of the “cup” shape: at year 6, they disappear from the central lower incisors; from the corner ones at year 8; from the upper central by year 9, upper corners by year 11. Note that changes in cup wear can vary from horse to horse.

After the cups have mostly disappeared, age estimation relies primarily on observing the development of Galvayne’s groove, which usually first appears at age 10. Beginning from the gum line, this groove works its way down the tooth, until it stops at 20 and begins to recede. It is usually halfway gone by the time the horse is 25, and completely gone at age 30.

Now after you got all the information, do you think now you know How to discover your horse age? Checo our horse byer guide article also!

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