Francis C. (Francis Cutler) Marshall.

Elements of hippology online

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from the root of the tail.

A brand is a mark burned in the skin of a horse, leaving a
scar of some definite design to establish ownership.

Clipping is the process of shortening the hair of the coat
by means of clippers.

Singeing is the process of burning long hairs in the coat
until they are the same length as the rest.

Wire cuts are the scars of wounds made b y barbed-wire
fences. They are characteristic in appearance, and frequently,
by their location, cast suspicion upon the soundness of the an-
imal. Usually the wounds causing them were only skin deep,
when the resulting scars are merely blemishes.

A rope burn is a scar or wound made by chafing the skin
of the fetlock by a rope. Like a wire cut, it is usually only
a blemish.

The height of a horse is determined by measuring, in
hands of four inches each, the altitude of the top of the withers.
A full-grown horse, fourteen hands two inches high (written:
14 : 2"), or less, is a pony.

Generally speaking, a blemish is any irregularity that mars
the beauty or symmetry of a horse, while a defect is one that
reduces his usefulness.

The forehand of a horse includes that part in front of the
rider. The part in rear is termed the haunches.

Of a pair of horses, the near one is the left, the off one is
the right. The near side of a horse is his left side ; the off side,
his right.

A sound horse is one that is not affected with any disabling
disease or injury; an unsound horse is one that is suffering


from any malady, acute or chronic, however slight, or that has
been disabled in any degree by disease or injury.

An acute disease is one attended by more or less violent
symptoms and coming speedily to a crisis, while a chronic
disease is one that continues a long time, mild as to intensity
and slow as to progress. An acute disease results in a speedy
recovery, or death, or it may assume a chronic state. A chronic
disease is difficult to cure, and yields only to long-continued

The Law of Warranty. — When a horse is purchased, the
seller should furnish a bill of sale, setting forth the description
of the horse and guaranteeing certain things, as, for example,
that he is sound; that he is sound and kind; that he is serviceable
for certain specific work, etc.

This bill of sale is the new owner's guarantee of title to the
horse. It also insures him against defects existing prior to the
date of sale.

A warranty does not go forward of the date of sale,
unless it explicitly states so.

If a person buys a horse that goes lame immediately or soon
after purchase, he can recover on the guarantee only by showing
that the horse exhibited the same lameness before the sale.
Similarly with a horse warranted kind that runs away or balks
after sale. Unless the new owner can establish similar vicious-
ness before the sale, he cannot recover damages from the former

This arises from the fact that all that can justly be ex-
pected from the seller is that he state truly in his warrant what
the history of the horse has been, not what his subsequent history
mav be.


CempaBj A. Fifth Be of Iufaitry,

Second Brigade. M. V. M.



The value of a horse, after he reaches maturity, is propor-
tioned to the remaining period of his usefulness. It is, there-
fore, of importance to a purchaser to know approximately, and
without being compelled to rely on the testimony of others, the
age of the horse he is buying. "

It is very easy for anyone, however little he may be familiar
with horses, to distinguish the young from the very old animal.
Signs of wear are apparent in the stiffened action, in blemishes
on the members, and, more than all, in the elasticity of the skin.
Aristotle says: "If, in pinching up the skin from the lips, it is
promptly retracted, the animal is young; if it remains wrinkled
for a long time, he is old."

Because the coat hides the skin, those signs of age that the
skin betra} T s in hairless animals cannot be detected in the in-
tervening years between youth and old age. For our guide
during this period we must go to the teeth, which appear and
grow and change their shape according to laws that are fairly

Up to five years the teeth give very reliable information;
from five to nine this information is good; after nine the limits
of error increase rapidly, and little reliance can be placed on the
teeth as a sole means of judging age.*

*There are horsemen who claim to judge accurately the age of all
horses, solely by their teeth. Such a claim, while honestly made by
many competent horsemen of experience, is often not made good in
practice. The teeth do furnish an excellent suggestion as to the age
of the horse—good enough to protect the careful observer from impo-
sition — that is all that should be claimed for them by the amateur



The back teeth, molars, are
six in number on each side of
each jaw; those in the lower jaw
are"shown in Figure 10.

In addition to these twenty-
four molars, another molar some-
times appears in front of the
others, more often in the upper
jaw than the lower, and rarely in
both jaws. These molars are ru-
dimentary and usually tempo-
rary, appearing before the colt is
a year old and usually disappear-
ing before he is three. They
sometimes remain indefinitely.
These teeth are usually called
wolf's teeth, but are sometimes
called blind teeth, from a fan-
cied influence on the horse's sight.

The molars are difficult to
examine on account of their loca-
tion, and their usefulness as evi-
dence as to age ceases at five,
when all the temporary ones
T have been replaced by perman-

1 HE LOWER JAW- . •, ■■ . -i

Bone in Plan, Showing Teeth .ent teeth, whose aspect changes


The changes in the other teeth are quite regular up to that
age. For this reason, inspection of the molars to determine age
is rarely resorted to.

The inspection of the incisors, the twelve teeth in the an-
terior portion of the horse's jaw, is the usual means employed to
approximate the age of horses. In inspecting them, the fol-
lowing details are examined:

First: Whether they are temporary or permanent.

The common names for the incisors, naming them each way
from the middle of the jaw, are center, intermediate, and

Figure 10.-


When the foal is born none of the incisors have appeared.
About a week later the two center teeth are through the gums.
In a month the intermediates appear, and after eight or nine
months more, the corner teeth. These teeth are small, thin, and
white, and of little interest as a means of determining age to the
ordinary observer. Up to this time the colt's very appearance
marks his infancy — he is leggy, small in the body and neck, his
mane and tail are woolly and characteristic in appearance.

For the" next year and a half, to the casual observer, these
teeth change but little; their grinding surfaces wear away, but
they retain much the same appearance they had at one year.
Because these teeth appear while the colt is still drawing his
sustenance from his mother, they are called milk-teeth.

Between two and a half and three years, the center milk-
teeth have fallen out and permanent ones have taken their place.
( When the horse approaches a given age — three, for instance
— he is said to be rising three ; after he has passed it, he is three
off until he is three and a half; after that period, he is ris-
ing four.

The age of the colt at three is easily determined when we find
the center incisors permanent and the rest temporary.

At four the intermediate temporary teeth are shed and re-
placed by permanent ones, and at five the temporary teeth are
all gone.

Figure 11 shows very plainly the difference in appearance be-
tween the temporary (corner) and the permanent (intermediate)

Simply by opening the colt's lips the observer can tell his
age near enough for all ordinary, purposes. As a rule, a horse
less than five is not mature enough to be put to hard work; his
development is not complete, and what would be quite suitable
employment for a mature horse would probably prevent the
full development of a colt and by so much destroy his future

Figure 11. — Temporary (Corner) and Permanent (Intermediate
and Center) Teeth — Four Years Old.

Figure 12. — Showing Angle of Meeting of Upper and Lower
Teeth in a Horse Twenty Years Old.

Figure 13. — A Parrot Mouth.

Figure 14. — An Undershot Jaw


Sometimes the temporary teeth are pulled to make the colt
appear older, and occasionally the corner teeth and intermediate,
especially in the upper jaw, are shed at nearly the same time —
about four. However, this is not the rule.

Second: The angle at which the teeth of the two
jaws meet.

The younger the horse, the more nearly the angle made by
the prolongation of the front faces approaches 180 degrees. This
angle becomes more and more acute as the horse grows older.
Compare the angle made by the outer faces of the upper and
lower teeth in Figures 11 and 12.

Third: Whether or not they meet accurately.

If the teeth do not meet accurately, the tables of the teeth
do not wear as uniformly as in the normal case and their ap-
pearance is not a good index of the horse's age.

If the upper jaw is longer than the lower one, the upper
teeth will, when the mouth closes, project beyond the lower ones .
This malformation is termed parrot mouth. The contrary
case, much more rare, is termed undershot. The cuts on the
opposite page illustrate each case. It is very difficult to ap-
proximate the proper age of horses possessing either of these
malformations, since the teeth, not meeting, do not wear away
according to the general rule.

The horse whose mouth is shownW Figure 14 has the habit
of biting at the woodwork of his stall, the picket-rope — anything
within his reach. This habit is known as cribbing, and is the
cause of the wearing away of the upper teeth. This animal was
known to be between eighteen and twenty when this picture
was taken.

Fourth: The appearance of their outer faces.

The teeth of a young animal show smoother surfaces (are
less stained and chipped on the edges) than the same teeth in
older horses. Young teeth are whiter than old ones, and have not
such pronounced deposits of tartar on the margins of the gums.
Compare Figures 15 and 16.

Figure 15. — Front View at Four.

Figure 16. — Front View at Twelve.



Fifth: The shape of the corner teeth.

The tables of the teeth are the surfaces that meet when the
jaws close. When the permanent corner teeth come up, at
five, the profiles of their tables are right lines. The upper tooth
does not, usually, meet the lower tooth exactly , but projects
slightly to the rear. As the teeth wear off by grinding against
each other, the forward part of the upper corner tooth wears away
faster than the rear part, and a hook appears. This hook-like
appearance is characteristic of horses seven and older, if the


teeth will wear evenly, and the profile will remain a right line.
The hook is almost never present at five, is slight at six, and quite
pronounced at seven. Compare Figures 17, 18, and 19.

Figure 17. — Side View at Six.

Figure 18. — Side View at Seven,

Figure 19. — The Hook at Nine.



Figure 20. — Longitudinal Sec

tion of Center Incisor.

Drawn by Capt. C. B. Hagadorn,

23d U. S. Infantry.

Sixth: The direction and
length of the teeth.

As seen in the cut, Figure 20,
the tooth in its original shape
curves more rapidly towards
its outer end. The shape of
the remaining portion of the
tooth is not altered as the tooth
wears off and is pushed for-
ward. The height of the mo-
lars remains fairly constant,
and thus the distance between
the jawbones at the outer
end also remains constant.

As the exposed ends of the
teeth lose their curvature and
the straighter portion of the
original tooth comes into view
with advancing years, they
meet farther and farther to
the front, and the visible por-
tion of the tooth becomes
longer. Contrast Figures 11
and 12. At the same time the
teeth become narrower in di-
ameter, and so appear more
closely bunched in the older
animals. Contrast Figures 18
and 23. The plumpness of the
gums is less in old horses than
in A young ones. Contrast Fig-
ures 11 and 12.



Seventh: The mark, the dental star, and the shape
of the tables.

All the details above enumerated are preliminary to the ex-
amination of the tables of the teeth and confirmatory of what is
to be learned from them.

The structure of the incisors is the same for all: A central
cavity, the pulp cavity, containing the nerves, blood-vessels,
and secreting tissues, is contained in the axis of the tooth. Sur-
rounding this pulp cavity is dentine, a dense and ivory-like sub-
stance, forming the body of the tooth. This dentine in the per-
fect tooth
has a deep
hollow i n
i t s outer
end. Over
the surface
I of the tooth
and lining
the depres-
sion in its
outer end,
is enamel,
white, very
hard, and
of varying thickness. The depression in the tooth soon becomes
discolored frorn the debris of decomposing food lodging there. The
enamel that crowned the tooth at its appearance soon wears off, but
the enamel on the outside of the tooth and that lining its central
depression still shows in cross-section on the table of the tooth.
The blackened spot in the center of the tooth, with its surround-
ing ring of white enamel, is called the mark, and is present in
every permanent incisor for about three years after its appear-
ance. By this time, in the ordinary case, the grinding of the
teeth against each other has worn off that part of the tooth con-

Figure 21. — Cross-Section of Center Incisor.
Drawn by Captain C. B. Hagadorn, 23d U. S. Infantry.


taining the depression, but for another year the discoloration of
the body of the tooth, due to the chemical action of the contents
of the depression, is still more or less visible.

As the tooth wears down and exposes the pulp cavity, its
secreting tissues deposit dentine to fill up the cavity, to protect
the nerves and blood-vessels from injury. The dentine so formed
is yellower in color than the original dentine of the tooth, and as
the tooth gets more and more worn down, assumes somewhat
the form of a star, hence its name, dental star. At first this
new dentine appears as a yellowish line in front of the enamel of
the mark. This is because the pulp cavity is spread out quite
thin near the end of the perfect tooth. It narrows and broadens
deeper in the tooth until its final shape is circular. The circular
shape is not found until the horse is about twelve, although this
rule is extremely elastic.

At three or four the observer can be sure enough of the
horse's age without looking at the tables, but after that they
should be consulted.

At five the horse's mouth presents quite positive evidence
of his age. Looking at the outer faces of the teeth, they appear
smooth and clean. The edges are sharp; there is no hook in the
upper corner teeth; the gums are plump; the horizontal and
vertical axes of the teeth are not far from equal. Looking at the
tables, the mark is found to be clear in all the teeth; the center
and intermediate teeth show tables nearly rectangular in shape,
and the axis of the tables at right angles to the jawbone is nearly
twice as long as the other one. But it is in the corner tooth that
the surest evidence is found. As the other incisors appear, at
three and four, the mark is entirely surrounded with enamel, but
the corner tooth comes up as a shell, with the inner wall missing,
and not until the tooth has been in use for from six to nine
months is the outer portion of the wall worn down to the level of
the inner portion. This peculiarity of the corner tooth at five,
once seen, should never be mistaken.



At six the hollow of the mark has been worn off the tables
of the center teeth, but the enamel is still there; it is discolored,
and sometimes appears not very different from the marks in the
other teeth — a little less dark and its margin less pronounced.
The mark is plainly present in the intermediates and corners,
and the wall of the corner tooth is up all around. The tables of
the teeth at six usually lose something of the rectangular shape,
becoming more rounded on the longer sides.

Looking at the exterior faces of the teeth, the hook is be-
ginning to appear and the teeth are losing their fresh, clean ap-
pearance. There is nothing positive to go by in the six-year-old
mouth, except the presence of the mark in the intermediates
and corner teeth, and even this is sometimes misleading:.

Figure 22. — The Tables at Five.

Figure 24. — The Tables[at[Seven.



Figure 25. — The Tables at Eight.

At seven the yellowish line of the dentine that has filled up,
the pulp cavity shows quite plainly in the center teeth and may
show in the intermediates. The mark is gone from the center
teeth and faint in the intermediates; it shows quite plainly in
the corners. The tables are much more rounded in outline. The
exterior aspect of the teeth is quite changed; they are much
longer and their angle of meeting is more acute. The hook is
now plainly visible, except in those mouths where the posterior
corners of the corner teeth meet exactly, and it is the presence of
this hook, together with the presence of the mark in the cor-
ner teeth, that makes the seven-year-old mouth fairly easy to

Dishonest dealers frequently rasp off the hook to make the
horse appear younger than he is.



Figure 26. — The Tables at Nine

The central enamel is still present in all the teeth, although
the discolored portion is usually worn off in the center teeth.

At eight the mark is gone from all the teeth, although the
corners are still discolored and the central enamel is found in all
of them. The line of the dental star is better defined in the
center teeth. The tables are more rounded than before and the
line joining their centers is a flatter curve than in the younger
mouths. A comparison of Figures 22, 23, 24, and 25 will show
the gradual flattening of this curve.

Viewed from the side, the angle of meeting of the teeth has
grown much more acute than at seven.

The principal test to be used in distinguishing between an
eight and a nine-year-old mouth is to see whether the central
enamel is gone from the center teeth. If it is still present, the


horse is probably eight; if it is worn off, he is probably at least
nine. Just as the presence of the temporary teeth shows the
colt-age, so the absence of the central enamel shows that the
horse is more than eight — that he is " past telling' ' with any degree
of certainty. It is much more difficult, even with this central
enamel as a test, to distinguish between the eight- and the nine-
year-old horse than it is to tell a four-year-old from a five-

In fact, it must be impressed upon all that there is no in-
violate rule for the growth and wear of the teeth. Differences
in the density of the dentine, differences in food and method of
feeding, or bad stable habits, will cause teeth to vary widely in
appearance in horses of the same age.

At nine the tables of the center teeth are quite rounded, the
dental star is much more rounded in them than before.

From nine on the indications of the horse's age become in-
creasingly less reliable. Mayhew says: "The greater the num-
ber of years, the more difficult it is to arrive at the exact determi-
nation of the age. After the twelfth year there is but little prob-
ability of judging it correctly; after the sixteenth, all is con-
fusion, for there are no positive signs that will enable us to give
a definite opinion upon this point, and it is better now to be
cautious, or remain silent."*

The amateur had better go farther than that and refrain
from any positive judgment after nine.

When the dental star becomes round and the tables tri-
angular, the horse is probably twelve or more; and when the
necks of the teeth become small and widely separated, he is ap-
proaching very near to the end of Ms period of usefulness.

In judging horses for age it is best to proceed leisurely.
Open the horse's lips, and view first the faces from the side.
Look for temporary teeth; see if the teeth meet evenly; see if
the upper corner tooth has a hook; observe the plumpness of the

*"The Horse's Mouth," Edw. Mayhew, 3d edition, p. 104.



Figure 27.— The Tables at Twenty

gums; the edges of the teeth, to see if they are chipped; their
margins near the gums; for tartar. Look next at the front faces
of the teeth, and compare the relative lengths of the axes of the
center teeth, remembering that the greater the disparity in these
lengths, the older the horse. Next, open the horse's mouth, and
look at the tables. The first thing to notice is the table of the
corner teeth to see if the wall has grown up on the inside; look
for the mark, the shape of the tables, the dental star, the curva-
ture of the line joining the centers of the tables, and the slope of
the inner faces of the teeth. If the mark is gone from all the
lower teeth, look for it in the upper. The horse that has the
mark in all his upper teeth is probably not very old — perhaps
between nine and thirteen, probably not more than the latter.
Beware of triangular tables; they are never found in the young
horse — always in the old.



Figure 28.

An Abnormal Mouth — Mark Clearly Visible in All
the Teeth at Twelve.

Having applied all these tests, reconcile all discrepancies as
nearly as may be and make the estimate modestly, remembering
that to be cock-sure in an estimate of a horse's age from the ev-
idence of his teeth alone, is a sign of ignorance.

Figures 16 and 28 show the front view and the view of the
tables of a horse known to be twelve at the time the photograph
was taken. He was a restless horse, who objected to a scrutiny
of his mouth, and the first hasty glance at the tables showed all
the marks present and the wall of the corner teeth fully grown
up. An observer, satisfied with that evidence alone, might say
once, "Six years old"; but a more careful look at the shape
of the tables would render that estimate very doubtful, while a
single glance at the stained and chipped exterior, covered with


tartar, the long vertical axis of the center teeth and their slope,
would confirm the error.

A horse's teeth are said to be bishoped when a hole in the im-
itation of the mark is burned in his teeth. As the false mark
cannot be surrounded by the enamel of the genuine one, and as
the other tests for confirming the evidence of the mark will nec-
essarily fail, the deception is easy of detection. It is a trick
rarely resorted to.

The tushes, or canine teeth, usually appear at about four,
are usually perfect at five, and show greater or less signs of
wear after that.

They usually are absent in mares. This fact, and the un-
certainty of the time of their appearance and their rate of growth,
makes them almost useless as an aid to the determination of age.
A bright, clean tush, showing little signs of wear, is a good index
to a young horse; while a flat-topped, chipped, and yellow tush
is a usual accompaniment to age. It is not wise to place much
more reliance upon them.




In all the higher animals the tissues (bones, muscles, cap-
sules, ligaments, tendons, glands, etc., — in brief, all parts of
the body) are nourished and kept alive by the circulation of the
blood. Blood consists of a pale-yellow fluid, carrying in it
myriads of white and red semi-solid bodies called corpuscles.

The red corpuscles, under conditions of health, very largely
outnumber the white ones. They are without volition and float
along, charged with oxygen to support life in the cells composing
the tissues.

The white corpuscles have a volition of their own; they act
as the scavengers of the tissues. They have the power of ab-

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Online LibraryFrancis C. (Francis Cutler) MarshallElements of hippology → online text (page 2 of 13)