Finding The Right Size Horse for Your Height and Weight

Last Updated on July 14, 2023 by Allison Price

You may be unsure what size horse to buy if you’re new to horses. It doesn’t matter if you’re a child or an adult. Choosing the right horse size can be hard if you don’t know what to look for.

How big do you need a horse? Your height and weight will determine the size of your horse. A rider and saddle should weigh between 20-25% of the horse’s body weight. This number will vary depending on the horse’s condition. This chart can be used to guideline horses based on this number:

  • A 600 lb horse or pony can carry between 120 and 150 lb
  • A horse of 800 lb can be ridden by 160-200 lb
  • A 1000-lb horse can be ridden with 200-250 lb
  • A 1200 lb horse may carry between 240 and 300 lb
  • A 1500-lb horse can be ridden with 300-375 lb
  • A horse of 1800 lb can be ridden by 360-450 lb

Let’s take a look at how to size a horse for the rider.

Table of Contents

The weight of your horse should be used to determine its size

The right horse size based on your weight is not an easy decision.

Right Size Horse for Your Height and Weight
  • Your fitness
  • Your Rider Experience
  • Your Horse’s Health
  • Which type of activity do you plan to do?

Find the right horse for your height and weight Play Video

Horses under high stress are more likely to have a larger rider. This is not a concern for most people who first start riding horses.

You should consider your level of skill and intended use of the horse if you want to learn to ride or purchase your next horse .

You will be able to ride at the safer end of the safe range as you increase speed, elevation, duration.

Consider the effects of rider balance on horses. You have reached a basic level if you can ride at all three gaits, and can make up or down transitions without having to grab the reins. This means that you don’t need to be as heavy as your horse if you suddenly shift to one side or the other.

The chart shows the total weight of the horse in pounds and the minimum horse weight within the recommended 20-25% ranges. Total weight includes rider weight, saddle weight, saddle pad and saddle bags.

How to Choose the Right Horse Size Based on Rider Weight

Total WeightMinimum Horse Weight
(20% Value)
Minimum Horse Weight
(25% Value)

Calculating How Much Your Saddle Weighs

To get an accurate estimate of your horse’s weight, add the saddle, pad, and other accessories. How much does that extra weight add up?

It all depends on the style of saddle you use. Is the saddle made of leather or synthetic material? Are you looking for an English saddle or western roping saddles? These things all make a difference.

Western saddle pads are often heavy and highly customizable, featuring various small accessories as mentioned in this guide. They typically weigh between 6 to 8 lbs or even more, whereas other saddle pads weigh less than four pounds.

Chart of Saddle Weights

Riding StyleTypeWeight (in lbs)
WesternRoping45 lbs
WesternCutting27 lbs
WesternTrail22 lbs
WesternBarrel Racing24 lbs
WesternSynthetic18.9 lbs
EnglishJumping14.3 lb
EnglishCross Country12.7 lbs
EnglishSynthetic13.3 lbs
EnduranceBob Marshall Treeless15 lbs
EnduranceSynthetic18 lbs
DressageLeather14.9 lbs
DressageSynthetic11.2 lbs
AustralianStock29 lbs
AustralianSynthetic18.7 lb

How to Measure Horses Weight

To determine the size of a horse, you need to know his weight. It is not always simple. This is not always true.

There are three common ways to measure a horse’s weight. To accurately measure a horse’s weight, the first and most reliable method is to use a livestock-scale. It is the only way you can get an accurate reading.

It is not easy to find livestock scales and they can be very costly to purchase. How can you determine a horse’s weight using a non-commercial scale?

Use a Horse Weight Tape

A weight tape is the best way to measure a horse’s weight. They are usually quite inexpensive and readily available.

Each tape has a number of markings. One side is used to measure height, and the other for weight measurement.

This method is not as accurate and reliable as weighing your horse. Even for those who are familiar with the method, the results may be off by 100 to 200 lbs.

It is very easy to use the weight tape. These are the basics:

  1. Place the tape on the back of the horse so that the weight measurement side faces up.
  2. The tail end of the weight tape should be pulled under the horse’s belly. The tape should be placed vertically around the horse’s cinch.
  3. The tape should be pulled taut, but not too tightly.
  4. Find the point where the zero mark meets the weight mark. This is your horse’s estimated weight in pounds.
  5. Record weight

TIP: Make multiple measurements. You should get close readings. You can practice until you are able to consistently get the same weight measurement.

Use Measurements to Calculate Horse’s Weight

A horse weight tape simply transfers the calculated weight method onto an measuring device. You can calculate this yourself if you don’t own a weight tape.

Although this method is not as simple as using a tape to measure weight, it is usually more accurate. This is how to calculate horses’ weight:

[(Heart Girth (in) x Heart Girth (in) x Body Length (in)) / 300] = Weight (lbs)

You will first need to take two measurements.

  1. Measure your horse’s Heart Girth. This is the area around the horse’s barrel where the cinch normally goes. This is the Heart Girth measurement.
  2. Measure the horse’s body length starting at the shoulder and ending at the buttocks. This is the measurement of the body length.

Let’s look at a example horse weight calculation by using this equation.

  • Heart Girth = 70
  • Length = 68″

[(70x70x68) /330] = 1,009 lbs

Sources say that the horse’s age should change the divisor. The following equation would be used to calculate horse weight in this case:

  • Adult Horse = [(Heart Girth (in) x Heart Girth (in) x Body Length (in)) / 300] = Weight (lbs)
  • Yearling Horse = [(Heart Girth (in) x Heart Girth (in) x Body Length (in)) / 301] = Weight (lbs)
  • Weanling Horse = [(Heart Girth (in) x Heart Girth (in) x Body Length (in)) / 280] = Weight (lbs)

The Rider Height is a key factor in determining the horse size.

Although a tall rider might seem odd on a small horse, the ideal size horse for a rider is not dependent on their height. Tall men ride tall horses while short women ride tall horses. Height doesn’t matter as long as the horse can carry the rider.

What height horse should you choose?

In reality, tall riders may be concerned about their height. They might worry that they will appear too tall for a smaller horse. There is no horse too large for short-statured people.

I cannot give you an exact answer because I don’t have a scientific study to address this. Instead, I will offer the following guidelines.

Your horse’s inseam should not exceed 60% of his height in inches. If you have a 36-inch inseam, your horse should measure at least 15 hands high.

You could ride a shorter or taller horse. Based on the information above, it’s not impossible.

A 14-hand Hafflinger horse will feel larger than a 14-hand Arabian. This is why weight is so important.

This is a guideline based on how I feel about a horse’s height.

The Rider Height is a good indicator of how tall a horse should be.

Rider InseamMinimum Horse Height
24″10 hands
26″10.3 hands
28″11.2 hands
30″12.2 hands
32″13.1 Hands
34″14 hands
36″15 hands
38″15.3 hands
40″16.2 hands
Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!