How Old is My Pony?
Q: I have searched the internet and, but I cannot find any information on Shetland ponies and their age progression. I have a pony who is a rescue, and I have no idea how old he is, which limits what I can do with him. Can you possibly shed some light on how I can estimate his age? —Sarah Roundtree, via e-mail

A: In general, ponies live longer than horses. They are thought to be genetically more hardy than horses. Without knowledge of an actual birthdate, aging any equid, pony or horse, can be tricky, and must be done by tooth eruption and wear. You can estimate age fairly closely in the first 10 years of life but the older the animal is, the harder it is to be exact. This is mainly because the wear of the teeth can be influenced by what the horse eats. If they eat off sandy ground or they have a cribbing vice, they may wear the teeth down more quickly. You can usually still estimate within a five-year span.

Horses or ponies in their 20s have the appearance of a groove, called the Galvayne’s groove, in their lateral upper incisor that is supposed to begin appearing at age 10 and be all the way down the tooth by 20. It then begins to disappear from the top. Of course many equids don’t follow the “book.” Your veterinarian might be able to give you some estimate. No matter what the exact age of the pony is, if it is over 20 then having your veterinarian do a basic health check and dental is a good idea.