The height and weight of horses vary widely. They weigh between 350 and 1,000 kilograms averagely, depending on the age, height, and breed. For instance, a miniature horse weighs between 90 and 225 kilograms, while a shire ranges between 800 and 1,225 kilograms. Most horses weigh in between these two extremes.
A horse’s healthy weight is determined by breed, muscle mass, height, occupation, breadth, and time. For instance, a warmblood typically weighs more than a thoroughbred. This difference in weight is due to the warmblood horse’s bulkier and heavier build, even though they both measure the same height.
How to Measure a Horse’s Weight
Getting the accurate weight of a horse may be tough due to its size. Equine scales are available, but scarce.
However, there are other ways to estimate a horse’s weight, like using a weigh tape. A weigh tape is made of cloth material, but it measures in kilograms (or pounds) instead of inches (or centimeters).
Measure the Heart Girth with a Weigh Tape
The principal value you need to calculate the weight of a horse relative to its size is the heart girth. Run the tape around the torso of your horse, behind the elbows and the withers. The tape should pass a few inches away from its forelegs.
Ensure that your horse is calm, with its head relaxed to avoid getting a wrong measurement as a result of stress, inflated lungs, or bunching muscles. It’s advisable to repeat this measuring process multiple times, as your horse’s natural breathing pattern may interfere with the measurement.
A measuring tape is an alternative to a weigh tape. It’s about the same method as using a weigh tape, except that you’ll measure the horse’s body length from the shoulder point to the buttock point.
After the different measurements, you’ll need to do a calculation to determine the horse’s weight, depending on your unit of measurement. If the measurements are in inches, your formula will be:
(body length x heart girth x heart girth)/330
Your result should be in pounds. For centimeters measurement, your formula will be:
(body length x heart girth x heart girth)/11,990
Your results should be in kilograms.
Are They Accurate?
Weigh tapes and measuring tapes can’t give a precise result as an actual weight scale, but they provide an estimated value of your horse’s weight. Hence, they might not be the best for all situations, even though they’re generally okay for several purposes.
Note that using a measuring tape wouldn’t work for pregnant mares, foals, long-bodied horses, and extremely fit sports horses, as they present variables that your formula can’t calculate. It works for drafts and other heavy horses.
Online calculators can give more precise results than when you calculate by yourself, but none beats the accuracy of an actual weighing scale.
Importance of a Horse’s Weight
Being overweight or underweight can be a severe risk to your horse’s health. Hence, it’s essential to monitor your horse’s weight and ensure it remains within the normal range.
Knowing the weight of a horse is vital to balance its diet and medication. Horses consume about two percent of their body weight in hay and water; hence, you need to dose accordingly. You also need to adjust your horse’s medication to its weight. Too much of some drugs (like de-wormers) can cause an overdose.
Like humans, horses usually have bodyweight fluctuations at specific periods of their lives. Due to the scarcity of forage in winter, many horses lose weight and regain it in summer. However, a horse that experiences weight gain or loss without any specific reason may be having health problems. For instance, losing weight without any reason may be as a result of dental issues.
Having a good knowledge of your horse’s average weight will help monitor the seasonal changes it experiences. So it’ll be easier to identify issues if there are unusual changes in your horse.
The Weight of a Foal
A healthy foal usually weighs about ten percent of their mother’s weight, regardless of the breed. This standard weight exempts unusually small or unusually large foals, but averagely, it’s a decent standard to note when measuring the weight of a foal. Even if the father is bigger or smaller than the mother, the foal’s weight is always relative to only its mother’s weight.
The average weight of a quarter horse foal at birth is about 68 kilograms (150 pounds), compared to its mother, which is about 680 kilograms (1,500 pounds). A first-time mare typically gives birth to a smaller foal. However, a foal that weighs significantly lower than ten percent of its mother’s weight is likely to have birth problems or be premature. Twin foals are often born below the average weight (if alive after birth) and may be prone to death due to this low birth weight.
What’s the Weight of My Horse?
Several horse breeds have a weight range acceptable in their breed standards, giving room for bone and muscle mass. A fifteen-hand high thoroughbred will weigh significantly less than a fifteen-hand high draft horse on reasonable grounds. One has less bone and muscle mass than the other.
Some Popular Horse Breed Weights
Bear in mind that these are broad averages, with some horses weighing less or more according to their muscle mass, size, and general fitness.
- Thoroughbred: 400 to 600 kilograms (880 to 1,300 pounds)
- Quarter Horse: 455 to 590 kilograms (1,000 to 1,300 pounds)
- Clydesdale: 860 to 910 kilograms (1,800 to 2,000 pounds)
- Miniature Horse: 90 to 225 kilograms (198 to 496 pounds)
- Shire Horse: 800 to 1,100 kilograms (1,800 to 2,400 pounds)
- Arabian: 360 to 450 kilograms (800 to 1,000 pounds)
Sampson was the heaviest horse in the world, weighing 1,524 kilograms (3,360 pounds). He’s the tallest horse in history, as he was 21.2 hands high.
The world’s lightest horse alive is Thumbelina, weighing only 25 kilograms (57 pounds).
Einstein was the smallest and lightest foal, weighing only 2.7 kilograms (6 pounds) at birth.
Shetland ponies are the most energetic horse breed respective to their size. Despite their tiny size, they can carry twice as much weight. It’s not advisable to put the additional burden on them, as it may result in health complications.
An average horse’s head corresponds to ten percent of its body weight.