The Frequency of Errors in Determining Age Based on Selected Features of the Incisors of Icelandic Horses

Jarosław Łuszczyński , Magdalena Pieszka , Weronika Petrych , Monika Stefaniuk-Szmukier


The structure and changes occurring to horses’ teeth during ontogeny are not only used to assess the degree of somatic maturity but also the development of universal patterns and is therefore used to determine the age of horses. Research shows that methods of assessing the age of horses based on the appearance of teeth tend to suffer from relatively large errors. This is probably influenced by the results of intensive selection and being kept in living conditions that differ substantially from their natural environment. This study aimed to assess the suitability of selected features of the incisors to determine the age of Icelandic horses. One hundred and twenty-six Icelandic horses (78 mares and 48 stallions) of different ages (range: 0–24 years; groups: 0–2 years, >2–5 years, >5–11 years, and >11 years) were examined by an experienced horse person who was blinded to the actual age of the horse and did not know which age group horses were in. Age was determined by the inspection of each horse’s teeth and was compared to the actual age of the horse recorded in the breeding documentation, and the percentage of mistakes made regarding the age group was calculated. The estimated age did not match the real age in 36.5% of the horses. The age was more often underestimated (19.0%) by, on average, 0.9 ± 1.0 years than overestimated (17.5%) by, on average, 1.3 ± 1.4 years. Within age groups, the least number of errors in determining age were made in young horses aged 0–2 years, when the eruption and growing of the deciduous incisors and the disappearance of the cups was considered. The average percentage of errors in this group (2.1%) was significantly lower (p < 0.01) than for older horses, whose age was estimated based on the exchange of deciduous to permanent teeth (55.8%), disappearance of the cups (68.0%), and shape changes on the grinding surface (40.0%). Significantly more frequent underestimation of age based on replacing deciduous for permanent incisors and significantly more frequent overestimation of age on the basis of the disappearance of the cup may indicate that Icelandic horses up to 5 years of age are characterized by a slower rate of growth than horses of other breeds, especially warmblood horses. These results suggest that patterns used to determine the real age of horses based on changes occurring on the incisors should be modified in order to consider the specificity of the course of growth and maturation processes of horses of various types and breeds.
Author Jarosław Łuszczyński (FoAS / IoAS)
Jarosław Łuszczyński,,
- Institute of Animal Science
, Magdalena Pieszka (FoAS / IoAS)
Magdalena Pieszka,,
- Institute of Animal Science
, Weronika Petrych (FoAS / IoAS)
Weronika Petrych,,
- Institute of Animal Science
, Monika Stefaniuk-Szmukier (FoAS / IoAS)
Monika Stefaniuk-Szmukier,,
- Institute of Animal Science
Journal seriesAnimals, ISSN 2076-2615, e-ISSN 2076-2615, (N/A 100 pkt)
Issue year2019
Publication size in sheets0.5
Keywords in EnglishIcelandic horses; equine incisors; ageing horses
ASJC Classification3400 General Veterinary; 1103 Animal Science and Zoology
Languageen angielski
LicenseJournal (articles only); author's original; Uznanie Autorstwa (CC-BY); after publication
The Frequency of Errors in Determining Age Based on Selected Features of the Incisors of Icelandic Horses of 25-09-2019
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Score (nominal)100
Score sourcejournalList
Publication indicators WoS Citations = 0; Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2018 = 1.148; WoS Impact Factor: 2018 = 1.832 (2)
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FinansowanieThis Research was financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Poland 3257/ZHK/2018.
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