Caring for a Polo Pony's Teeth
Routine dental care is important to the development of healthy polo ponies. A healthy
mouth helps prevent digestive problems such as colic and weight loss.
The performance and temperament of a polo pony is affected by the quality of its
teeth as they relate to the bit.
Signs of Equine Dental Disease
|Loss of food when
Weight loss/rough hair
Foul odor - mouth/nostrils
Pain when drinking water
Sensitivity to bit
Bracing against bit Tail wringing
Refusal to stop/turn
Unwilling to collect
Poor head carriage
||rows of teeth
||the open, or interdental, spaces on the jaws between the
incisors and cheek teeth where the bit sits
|small pointed teeth that grow in the interdental space near
the corner incisors, they are also called "tusks"
||a remnant of a deciduous tooth that can persist atop a
||teeth which shed at a natural stage of life, like human
||filing down sharp edges on a horse's molars using a long
handled rasp called a "float"
|a stained vertical furrow that first appears at the gum line
of the upper incisors when a horse is about 10 years old
||a point or peak on a tooth's chewing surface that is developed
through abnormal wear
||the six front top teeth and the six front bottom teeth, used
for cutting and nipping rather than grinding
||the 24 grinding teeth located along the jaws, used for
crushing feed, they are also called cheek teeth
||surface contact of normally aligned opposing teeth
|one of up to four rudimentary teeth in front of the first
Equine Dentition and Age
At approximately 5 years of age when all the permanent teeth have erupted, a horse is
said to have a "full mouth".
At 11 or 12 years of age when the cups are absent from all lower and upper incisors a
horse is said to be "smooth mouthed".
So, by checking for the presence or absence of cups in the incisors, it is possible
to estimate age between 6 and 12 years.
When a horse is older than 12 years, it is difficult to estimate age and accuracy
However, In the nineteenth century, Sydney Galvayne, claimed that the groove which
appears on the upper corner incisors of a horse can be used to determine its age. The
phenomenon has come to be known as "Galvayne's Groove" and belief in it's
practicality persists today:
- 9 to 10 years - Groove appears at gum margin
- 15 years - Groove is half-way down labial surface of incisor
- 20 years - Groove extends entire length of labial surface of incisor
- 25 years - Groove disappears from upper 1/2 of tooth
- 30 years - Groove disappears completely from the tooth
"Bishoping" is the practice of drilling new cups in aged incisors, then
burning or dying these artificial funnel-shaped hollows to resemble the dark cups found
in a young horse's mouth.
Jack Easley, DVM, an equine practitioner in Shelbyville, Kentucky, believes that
aging horses using Galvayne's formula is, at best, an educated guess and not an exact