Horse Teeth Quiz

Horse Teeth Quiz

Test your knowledge of your horse's teeth. Learn how to determine a horse's age by looking at its teeth, plus access a glossary of equine dental terms.

black and cremello horses in a field (Credit: Mary Maxon)

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Horses have a unique dental structure. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, horses' teeth are divided into two major sections:

  1. The incisors, which are the teeth seen in the front of the horse's mouth.
  2. The cheek teeth, made up of the premolars and molars.

The molars and premolars are lined up tightly against each other, creating the appearance of one chewing surface. This alignment of teeth is called the dental arcade.

The incisors are separated from the cheek teeth by a large space. Canine teeth can be found in the space between the incisors and premolars. The incisor teeth are responsible for the grasping and tearing of food, while the cheek teeth are used for grinding of feed.

The horse chews in a circular motion with the lower jaw sliding along the upper teeth. This circular motion maintains the occlusive surfaces of the teeth. This motion is reduced as the horse eats smaller feed particles. Horses eating grains and pelleted feeds may chew in almost an up-and-down fashion.

Take this horse teeth quiz!

Scroll down for the answers.

  1. Canine teeth:

    a. Are more pointed than incisors or cheek teeth

    b. Are characteristic of mares

    c. Get in the way of the bit 

    d. Are what horses use to bite dogs

  2. Male horses:

    a. Have bigger teeth

    b. Wear their teeth out faster

    c. Almost always have four more teeth than females

    d. All of the above

  3. Like most human children, barring injury, the two front teeth will be the first "baby" teeth a horse loses.

    a. True

    b. False

  4. Wolf teeth:

    a. Are often removed to avoid interference with the bit

    b. Sometimes never come in

    c. Are the remnants of teeth that were well-developed in the eocene ancestors of the horse

    d. Are often shed about the same time as the milk tooth behind it, but might remain indefinitely

    e. All of the above

  5. It's easier to estimate a horse's age from the upper teeth than the lower.

    a. True

    b. False

  1. "Galvayne's groove" is a:

    a. Name of a popular disco song

    b. David Letterman-like space between a horse's front teeth

    c. A line on the upper corner incisor that appears when a horse is 9 or 10, and runs the length of the tooth by the time he's 20.

  2. Looking at the profile, the angle between the upper and lower incisors become more acute with age.

    a. True

    b. False

  3. If a horse is parrot-mouthed or is a cribber, it is much more difficult to get an accurate estimate of its age by looking at its teeth.

    a. True

    b. False

  4. Wolf teeth erupt through the gum at:

    a. Five to six months

    b. 12 months

    c. 18 months

    d. 24 months

  5. No single feature or sign, such as Galvayne's groove or dental stars, should be considered as reliable; all features must be evaluated.

    a. True

    b. False

Answers to the Tooth Quiz

1. a; 2. c; 3. a; 4. e; 5. b; 6. c; 7. a; 8. a; 9. a; 10. a.

To find a veterinarian to perform regular maintenance on your horse's teeth, call (800) GET-A-DVM.

Aging Horses by Teeth

The American Quarter Horse Anatomy e-book from AQHA is a free download that illustrates a horse's teeth and explains how to examine teeth to determine a horse's age. 

The anatomy e-book also explains the Quarter Horse's external features, muscles, organs, skeleton and feet. Download your copy now.

Galvayne's Groove

Galyayne's groove appears at around 9 to 10 years of age and is one way to determine the age of an older horse. 

9 to 10 years – Galvayne's groove appears at the gum margin.

15 years – Galvayne's groove extends halfway down the labial surface of the incisor.

20 years – Galvayne's groove extends the entire length of the labial surface.  

Illustrations courtesy of the American Quarter Horse Anatomy free e-book.

Glossary of Equine Dental Terms

Cup: The dark or dark-brown to black cavity in the infundibulum. 

Deciduous teeth: Temporary, fetal, milk or baby teeth. They are characterized by their smaller size, constricted neck and shallow cup.

Dental star: The darker dentin that fills the pulp cavity as the tooth wears. It is dark yellow to yellow-ish brown.

Dental table: The bable, masticatory or occlusal surface.

Eruption: Pertains to the period when a tooth breaks through the gum.

Galvayne's groove: The longitudinal depression on the labial surface of the upper corner (13) incisor. The cementum remains in the groove as a dark line; the rest of the surface is worn to expose the white enamel.

Incisor teeth: Starting at the midline, incisors are designated as centrals (I1), intermediates (I2) and corners (I3).

Infundibulum: The deep invagination of enamel, which is filled with a variable amount of cement. Commonly referred to as the "cup."

Labial surface: Surface toward the lips.

Lingual surface: Surface toward the tongue.

Permanent teeth: Second dentition or adult teeth. 

Equine Dental Health: More Resources

Annual Dental Exams Help Keep Horses on Their Best Behavior: Could dental pain be the culprit for your horse’s behavioral problems?

Equine Dentists: Find out who to call when your horse needs dental care.

American Quarter Horse Anatomy: This free downloadable e-book illustrates a Quarter Horse’s external features, muscles, organs, skeleton, feet and teeth.