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Selecting Equine for the Herd Equine Science II
Importance of Age • The productive life or period of an equine’s usefulness is comparatively brief. • Equine reach their physical peak between 0-10 years of age, with the prime age between 7-9 years. • Market value for similar conditioned and trained animals increases up to the peak and decreases after the peak.
The chance of unsoundness goes up with age. • Buyers must decide if a top-quality older horse can be purchased for the same or less than a younger equine of lesser quality
Age is also important when equines are used for competitive events such as racing and showing. January 1st is considered the universal birth date for foals.
Affects the class horses are shown or raced in and is especially important in the younger age groups such as the racing and halter futurities. • A foal born on May 30, 2003 is considered a year old for racing/showing on January 1, 2004 and would lack the growth advantage of a foal born closer to January 1.
The Importance of Height • Height can influence usefulness and price. Ponies are usually cheaper because their use is limited. • Equine height is measured in hands with 1 hand = 4”. The measurement is made on level ground and is made from the ground to the highest point of the withers. A pony that measure 10 hands is 40” tall.
The Importance of Weight • Weight depends on breed, type and age of equine and is often missed when evaluating equine. • Weight is most often underestimated when visual guesses are made • The best method to determine equine weight is too weigh the trailer and equine on a truck scale and then weigh the trailer empty.
A more accurate estimate of weight can be accomplished by measuring the equine’s body length, heart girth and using a formula to calculate weight.
Avoid using noisy tapes or cloth tapes that might stretch. • A cord or string that has no stretch may be used, marked and then measured in the place of using a measuring tape on the equine.
Knowing an equine’s weight is important for several management decisions • Amount of feed needed • Breeding efficiency • Potential health problems • Medical treatment
Stance indicates structure and how an animal will move; therefore, view equine from at least three positions
Position 1 • Front view of the forelimbs • A vertical line drawn downward from the point of the shoulder should fall on the center of the knee, cannon, pastern, and foot.
Position 2 • View from the side • When the hind legs are set properly, a vertical line drawn from the point of buttock should just touch the rear of the cannon from the hock to fetlock and meet the ground behind the heel. • When the forelimbs are in the correct position, a vertical line drawn downward from the center of the elbow point should fall upon the center of the knee and pastern and back of the foot.
Position 3 • View from the back • When conformation of the hind legs is correct, a vertical line can be drawn from the point of the buttock through the center of the hock cannon, pastern, and foot.
Body Dimension and Performance • Shoulders should be long and sloping so that they extend the stride in running, absorb shock and reduce stumbling.
Short backs and long underlines contribute to style and action and increase the height and length of stride. In addition, short backs are stronger
Long smooth muscling in the hindquarter is of particular importance since all the power used in motion comes from the hindquarter.
Determining Age • Age affects usefulness and value of an equine. Type, number, and appearance of incisor teeth help one determine the correct age.
Equine which are 5 years of age or less will have some combination ranging from all milk teeth (first temporary teeth developed) to all permanent incisors.
Noting the number of cups (or indentations) in the permanent incisor teeth for equine between 6-12 years of age.
Examining the cross section and slant of the incisor teeth for equines over 12 years of age.
How to know the difference • Temporary teeth are small, white, oval shaped and wider from side to side than from front to rear; whereas, permanent teeth are yellow in color, larger than temporary teeth and have a general round surface.
Molars are the teeth used for grinding on each side of the mouth; incisors are the front teeth used for cutting.
There are three sets of incisors called the central, intermediate and corner incisors (6upper and 6 lower). • Incisors have a cup on indentation in the center of the tooth that wears down with age and disappears.
The numbers make the difference • Immature horses have a total of 24 temporary teeth. • Mature mares have a total of 36-38 permanent teeth; stallions and gelding have 42-48 permanent teeth.
Examples SEE HANDOUT
Determining Approximate Weight • Measure and record in inches the heart girth just behind the elbow after making sure the equine exhales prior to taking the reading.
Measure and record in inches the body length in a straight line from the point of the shoulder to point of the buttocks.
Body weight = heart girth X heart girth X body length 330 Example: • For an equine measuring 70 inches at the heart girth and 62 inches in length: Body weight= 70 X 70 X 62 = 921 pounds 330
Formula for body weight of light horse foals from 1-6 weeks of age Body Weight= heart girth in inches – 25.1 0.07