How to Measure Your Horse. The Horse Height & Weight

How To Measure Your Horse

Why measure your horse or pony’s height and weight … Because all caring horse owners should know how to measure their horse and certainly at least, how to estimate your horses weight or specify its height.

Your horses weight measurement should be used to calculate how much feed it needs as well as dosage for worming and other medications.

And knowing your horses’ height is very important if you are considering selling your horse or entering certain classes of equestrian competition, particularly showing classes.

Horse heights conversion table :

Horses and ponies are measured in either hands high (hh) or centimetres (cms).

The decimal centimetre measurement being the more modern way to measure a horse but quite a few horse owners struggle to compare the two measurements.

So, we thought a horse measurement conversion chart would come in handy :

Hands cms Hands cms Hands cms Hands cms Hands cms
8.0 81 9.0 91 10.0 102 11.0 112 12.0 122
8.1 84 9.1 94 10.1 104 11.1 114 12.1 124
8.2 86 9.2 97 10.2 107 11.2 117 12.2 127
8.3 89 9.3 99 10.3 109 11.3 119 12.3 130

Hands cms Hands cms Hands cms Hands cms Hands cms
13.0 132 14.0 142 15.0 152 16.0 163 17.0 173
13.1 135 14.1 145 15.1 155 16.1 165 17.1 175
13.2 137 14.2 147 15.2 157 16.2 168 17.2 178
13.3 140 14.3 150 15.3 160 16.3 170 17.3 180

Table 13-17.3 – Horse Height Conversion Hands and cms

  • A hand is equal to 4 inches or 10.2cms. You should measure your horse from the point of the withers to the ground.
  • A horse that is 61 inches tall is 15.1 hands or 15 hands and 1 inch or 15.1hh.
    This is calculated using (61/4 = 15.25); the .25 is the decimal equivalent of one quarter and a quarter of 4 = 1; so 15.1hh.
  • Alternatively, to calculate the centimetre height
    either mulitply 61 inches by 2.54 which equals apprx 155cms
    or divide 61 by 4 and then multiply by 10.2 which again equals approximately 155cms.
  • A pony is 14.2 hands or less at the withers.

Calculating your horses weight is a little more complicated :

Knowing your horses weight, at least approximately, can be very helpful for such simple things as calculating feed amounts and knowing how much wormer to administer.

As it’s not easy to find a weighing machine or scale big enough to accommodate your horse, there are several ways of calculating a horse’s approximate weight.

Of course, if you have a farmer friend or have access to livestock scales, then use those for a truly accurate measurement.

The following two methods are among the most common approximation methods and provide a good idea of your horses weight.

1. Height and Weight Tapes :

Probably the most common method people use to estimate their horses weight is to buy and use a height/weight tape.

You simply wrap the tape around your horses girth (aka "heart girth") and read the estimated weight on the tape.

The height and weight tape has been available for many years and horse owners generally feel they are very reliable. They usually come complete with instructions on how to use them.

You can find low cost examples on ebay and other online stores.

2. Measuring your horses’ weight using a standard inch tape …

Another way to estimate your horses weight is to use a standard inch tape to measure its girth and length. Then, simply perform the following calculation:

(((heart-girth x heart-girth) x body-length) divided by 300) + 50 = weight.

How to take the horse weight measurements :
Horse girth Weight

Step 1. Measuring Heart Girth

To measure your horses heart girth, measure (in inches) from the base of the withers down to a couple of inches behind your horses front legs, then under the belly and up the opposite side to where you started. The tape measure should run at an angle as shown by the yellow line in the image on the right. This measurement is your horses heart girth.

Measure Horse length weight

Step 2. Measuring Body Length

To measure your horses body length, measure (in inches) from the point of the shoulder to the point of the hip. Your tape measure should run at an angle as shown by the yellow line in the image. The measurement you take is your horses body length.

Step 3. The calculation
  • Multiply the heart-girth by the heart-girth
  • Multiply the above result by the body-length
  • Divide this result by 300 then add 50
  • The result is your horses aprroximate body weight.

How To Estimate Your Horses Height or Weight

We were curious to know if a height/weight tape would give the same estimated weight for a horse as calculating weight with the manual heart girth and length calculation.

Debbie Winnie Dressage Test

We tried both methods on the same horse and you can see the results we came up with below.

How close will the results be for each method :

Any method that doesn’t actually use a calibrated weight scale is always going to be a rough approximation based on accepted norms, generalities and averages.

ie, the average 15.2hh cob type has a heavy chest and shoulders, so will weigh between x and y. The 15.2hh thoroughbred is finely built and will be light for its height.

Both methods should be reasonably close but the answers will vary depending on how close your horse is to the average horse.

The height and weight tape doesn’t factor in your horses body length and, as we all know, a tall horse can be short backed and a short horse can have a long body.

So, we measured our 6 year old, 16.3hh (170cms) thoroughbred warmblood cross. She’s a big girl and well covered due to the wet summer, hot autumn and plentiful grass.

  • The height/weight tape gave us a value between 1320lbs (600kgs) and 1380lbs (627kgs)
  • Measuring by hand we calculated (((70×70)x75)/300)+50 = 1275lbs (580kgs)

So, close enough to reassure us that we’re feeding correctly and using the correct dose of horse wormer.

To get closer to the true weight of your horse you would need access to a livestock scale.