TATTOO On A Horses Inside/Upper Lip
QUESTION: We just bought an 18 year old horse for barrel racing. We were told he is a Quarter Horse but without registration papers. We had a really smart horse friend come over and look at his side teeth and first he said that the horse was only like 15 years old, then suddenly he said, well this is a race horse that has WON because he has a tattoo on the inside of his upper lip? So now we want to get his Registration Papers and sell him for more money than we paid for him since he is younger than we were told and registered and is a race winner. Please help us make a profit because he is nuts and to hard to handle when trying to Barrel Race him so we want to get rid of him?
ANSWER: Your friend probably determined his age by using "Galvayne's Groove" on the Upper Corner Incisor. At 10 years old, the groove first appears, at 15 years old, it is 1/2 way down the tooth, at 20 years old it has reached the bottom of the tooth. By 25 years old it has dissapeared from the top half and by 30 years old is completely gone as if it had never existed.
The trouble with "Galvayne's Groove" is it is just an estimate, not a sure fire, 100% accurate reading. Thus knocking 3 years off his age would not be completely accurate.
A Thoroughbred or a Quarter Horse that "is going to be raced", must be Tattooed on the inside of the upper lip. It does not mean they ever WON a race or perhaps even entered a race!!! It simply means that they were at the track and being trained for racing. It means that they were tattooed to "Be Eligible" for racing, that is all!!!
To read an old tattoo, rub firmly with a few drops of mineral oil on it to make the numbers and/or letters stand out more clear. It may still be hard to read it correctly as the ink blurs with age.
Then you can contact the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association in Amarillo, Texas, U.S.A.) Perhaps they can direct you to find out the horses name and age IF (big IF here when reading old tattoos) you were able to read the tattoo correctly. But they will not, I repeat will not give you his registration papers. Once you have his name you can then use the AQHA website to research if he ever placed in a race or not?
You must be a Member of AQHA in good standing to use their website.
As for trouble while barrel racing, the way he acted is more likely because he was pushed to hard during barrel racing or barrel race training OR because he has never been properly trained to barrel race. Many X race horses go on to be top barrel horses but only with months and months of careful training.