It’s not easy to accurately measure a horse’s weight – after all, they’re much too big to throw on a bathroom scale! However, keeping track of your horse’s weight is an important part of keeping him healthy and happy. Here are 11 different ways that you can measure your horse’s body weight, with varying degrees of accuracy.
The quickest, though not most accurate, way for most horse owners to do this is to use a horse weight tape (like this one).
The most accurate way to find your horse’s weight is by weighing him on a scale. But most home scales are built for humans, who don’t weigh nearly as much! Luckily, there are several ways to find a scale large enough, depending on the resources that you have available to you.
Many large animal veterinary clinics have livestock scales in-house that you can use to weigh your horse. However, there may be costs associated with this method, and it’s not necessary if you are only looking for a general estimate.
If you find yourself needing to weigh your horse (or many horses) accurately more often, you may consider investing in a livestock scale of your own.
If your community has a truck stop with a weigh station, it may be possible to use it to weigh your horse.
- Weigh your trailer empty first to determine the tare weight.
- Then, load your horse and weigh again.
- Subtract the tare weight from the loaded weight and voila! You’re left with your horse’s weight.
Just make sure that if you have a helper to hold your horse, you don’t accidentally weigh them too!
Note: It’s generally safer to load and unload your horse at home and not at a busy truck stop. Use good horse sense if you choose this method. Also, this method may not achieve the most accurate results, as these large scales are often designed to weigh very heavy loads. (source)
If you don’t have access to a good truck scale at a weigh station, there may be other companies in your community that use large industrial scales.
If you ask around and you’re willing to pay a small fee, you could get lucky. Consider industrial weigh stations, granaries, garbage facilities, nurseries, livestock feed lots, construction companies, shipping companies, or places that sell building materials.
Before the days of handy online weight calculators, equestrians had to use a plain old measuring tape and a little math.
To calculate your horse’s weight, find the following measurements:
- Heart girth. Measure your horse around his barrel at the widest part. This is usually where the cinch or girth rests. Pull the tape snugly against his skin, but not too tight, and wait for him to exhale.
- Body length. Measure your horse from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks. The angle of your tape may not be parallel to the ground, depending on your horse’s conformation.
Plug your numbers into the following formula (metric or standard) to estimate your horse’s weight:
For measuring weight in adult horses:
Weight (kg) = [(girth measurement in cm)2 x (length measurement in cm)] ÷ 11,900
Weight (lbs) = [(girth measurement in in) x (girth measurement in in) x (body length in in) / 300]
For measuring weight of foals younger than 2 months old:
Weight (kg) = [girth measurement in inches – 25] ÷ 0.07
As an example, let’s say your adult horse has the following measurements:
- Heart Girth : 70” (178 cm)
- Body Length: 68” (173 cm)
The equation would look like this:
[(70 x 70 x 68) / 330] = 1,009 lbs
[( 1782 x 173) / 11,900 ] = 461 kg
So, a horse with a heart girth of 70” (178 cm) and a body length of 68” (173 cm) would weigh around 1,000 pounds (or 460 kg).
If you’re not quite sure where you should be measuring your horse, there are many diagrams and videos available on YouTube to help.
Some things to remember:
- Horses with high or pointy withers may have inaccurate heart girth measurements.
- Measure your horse consistently at the same time – such as two hours after eating and drinking.
- The weight equation may need to be adjusted based on age (source).
- Adult Horse Weight (lbs) = [ (girth x girth x body length) / 300]
- Yearling Horse Weight (lbs) = [ (girth x girth x body length) / 301]
- Weanling Horse Weight (lbs) = [ (girth x girth x body length) / 280]
Online Weight Calculators
Thankfully, we now have access to hundreds of different online calculators that can handle these equations easily.
Simply enter your horse’s heart girth and body length measurements into the calculator of your choice and voila! Your horse’s estimated weight will pop right up in seconds, no math necessary. (source)
Weight Measuring Tape
If your horse is an average size with relatively low withers, you can use a weight tape to find his estimated weight. I like this one, but there are many brands available.
Hold the end of the tape at the “0” point at his withers, and pull it snugly around his barrel (not too tight!). Wait for him to full exhale, and then read the measurement on the tape.
Weight tapes are widely available and inexpensive, but it’s important to take consistent measurements to track any changes.
You can also quickly estimate a horse’s weight by only measuring his girth length. Here is a handy reference table:
If your horse has an exceptionally long or short body, you’re probably going to want to find a more accurate method. Charts like these are handy in a pinch when you just need to get a quick measurement.
Body Condition Scoring System
If you want to become a better equestrian, familiarizing yourself with a body condition scoring system can be useful for estimating your horse’s weight, as well as monitoring your horse’s health.
The Henneke horse body condition scoring system measures the amount of fat deposits on your horse’s body, and your horse receives a score from 1 (emaciated) to 9 (extremely fat).
Knowing your horse’s body weight score can help you determine his body weight, and track any changes over time. (source)
A nomogram is a different sort of chart can give you an estimate of your horse’s weight. However, you will need to know your horse’s height and be able to accurately give assign a body condition score in order to use it.
Here is an example of a weight nomogram:
Drawing a line from the two points (the horse’s body condition score and height) will give you an estimated weight measurement.
Average Horse Weight by Breed
Ever wondered how much a horse weighs just by looking at him? If you’re fairly familiar with horse breeds, here are the average weight ranges for some specific horse and pony breeds.
You’d need to take a more accurate measurement just to be sure, but this can be handy information if you’re searching for your next equestrian partner. (source)
|Andalusian||1200 – 1300 lbs|
|Arabian||900 – 1200 lbs|
|Appaloosa||1000 – 1300 lbs|
|Belgian||1800 – 2200 lbs|
|Clydesdale||1600 – 1800 lbs|
|Dutch Warmblood||1200 – 1300 lbs|
|Hanoverian||1200 – 1400 lbs|
|Morgan||900 – 1200 lbs|
|Percheron||1800 – 2100 lbs|
|Quarter Horse||1000 – 1300 lbs|
|Saddlebred||1000 – 1200 lbs|
|Shire||1700 – 2700 lbs|
|Mustang||800 – 1000 lbs|
|Tennessee Walking Horse||900 – 1400 lbs|
|Thoroughbred||1000 – 1300 lbs|
|Welsh Cob||1000 – 1300 lbs|
|Shetland Pony||300 – 600 lbs|
|Miniature Horse||200 – 500 lbs|
|Welsh Pony||400 – 800 lbs|
|Norwegian Fjord||1200 – 1400 lbs|
|Haflinger||1200 – 1300 lbs|
|Icelandic||700 – 900 lbs|
Average Horse Weight by Height
This is probably the least accurate way to measure a horse’s weight, but it can be handy if you’re horse shopping and you have a working knowledge of different horse breeds.
In general, tall horses are heavier than shorter horses, and draft breeds are heavier than light riding horse breeds.
Here are some common weight ranges for various horse and pony heights, with examples of lighter and heavier individuals. (source)
|9 hands||400 – 500 lbs|
|10 hands||530 – 600 lbs|
|11 hands||440 – 600 lbs, 660 – 700 lbs|
|12 hands||500 – 680 lbs, 700 – 800 lbs|
|13 hands||640 – 840 lbs, 700 – 800 lbs, 800 – 860 lbs|
|14 hands||790 – 1200 lbs, 900 – 1200 lbs|
|15 hands||880 – 1200 lbs|
|16 hands||1000 – 1200 lbs, 1100 – 1400 lbs|
|17+ hands||1400 – 1750 lbs, 1500 – 2,200 lbs|
Remember, all horses are built differently, so this will only give you a general idea as to how much your horse weighs. Taking a weight measurement consistently over time can help alert you to any changes in your horse’s health, as long as you are consistent with the measurement method. As always, consult your veterinarian if you’re still unsure.