Last Updated on June 11, 2020 by Allison Price
Discussing the weight of humans may be a sensitive topic. But understanding horses’ weight is a different story. This is our key to understand how to keep them healthy in their growing years.
An average horse may weigh 900 to 2000 pounds, depending on its size and breed. A racing horse usually weighs around 900 to 1,100 pounds. While the average horse, Clydesdale, usually weighs 1,800 to 2,000 pounds.
Here is the detailed weight category for each breed:
- A typical adult warmblood breeds weigh about 1,300-1,700 pounds.
These are: Canadian, Dutch, Hanoverian, Holsteiner, Irish Sport, Oldenburg, Swedish, Trakehner, Selle Francais, and Westphalian.
- A typical adult draft horse breeds usually weigh about 1,600-2,200 pounds.
These are: Belgian, Clydesdale, Friesian, Hackney, Percheron, Shire, and Suffolk
- A typical adult light horse breeds usually weigh about 900-1,300 pounds.
These are: Andalusian, Appaloosa, Arabian, Hackney, Lipizzan, Missouri Fox Trotter, Morgan Mustang, Paint, Palomino, Pinto, Quarter Horse, Saddlebred, Standardbred, Tennessee Walking Horse, Thoroughbred, Mule
- A typical adult small horse breeds weigh 600-800 pounds.
These are: Fjord Horse, Icelandic Horse, Paso Fino, Peruvian Paso
Normal Birth Weights of Foals
Foals weigh about 10 percent of their mother’s weight at birth. Thus, a typical 1,000 pound/450kl thoroughbred mare gives birth to a 100pound/45 kl foal. These proportional weights hold true even if a bigger or smaller stallion is then bred to a mare. Foals weighing less than 10 percent of their mother’s weight are premature. Shetland ponies weigh from 200 pounds and Haflinger ponies weigh 1,400 pounds.
It is important to tailor the feeding program of foals as early as possible. Feeding too slowly will result in stunted growth. While too much food will cause heart and bone diseases.
How to Measure the Weight of the Horse
One of the tools used in measuring the weight of the horse is through a weight tape. These tapes are very common, and feed dealers will even give them for free. It’s like any measuring tape that is usually made of cloth. It measures length in pounds or kilograms instead of inches or centimeters. Also, this only works for heavy horses like Clydesdales, Percherons, Belgians, and Shires.
Here’s a step by step guide on how to measure your horse’s weight using Weight Tape:
Step 1: Measuring the Heart Girth Using a Weigh Tape
With a measuring tape or weight tape, run it around the horse’s torso, right behind the withers. Then run it behind the elbows, a few inches away from the forelegs. The tape will have a slight angle to it, which is the correct way to measure. The horse should be calm with their head relaxed. Stress causes bunching muscles or inflated lungs that may give false information.
Tip: Repeat the process of measuring the heart girth several times. This is so that the horse’s natural breathing will not interfere while the length is then measured.
Step 2: Measure the Length of the Horse’s Body
Measure the length of its shoulder run to the point of its buttock.
Step 3: Gather the Measurements and Calculate
A simple calculation to get the horse’s weight depends on whether you used centimeters or inches.
- If the measure is in centimeters, your formula should be:
Adult Horse: Heart Girth x Heart Girth x Body Length / 11,990
And the result will be in kilograms.
- If your measurements are in inches, your formula should be:
Adult Horse: Heart Girth x Heart Girth x Body Length / 330 = Body Weight in-lbs.
And the result will be in pounds.
This is the best way to get an accurate measurement of a horse’s weight. Some veterinary clinics have scales for animals, and others may have portable scales. You can call them up for a complete check-up.
Before you proceed to check a horse’s weight and general health, look at the following:
– Spine: You should not see his spine. If a horse is too thin you’ll see a ridge down the back of it.
– Ribs: You should be able to feel the horse’s ribs.
– Tail head/Croup: The tail head should not be visible. If it is, the horse may be malnourished.
– Withers: Withers is visible on a horse if it’s too thin.
– Neck: The horse’s neck bone structure should not be visible. If it is, the horse may be too thin.
4 Reasons Why We Track Horses’ Weight
1. It helps you understand how much your horse should be eating.
A mature horse needs about 15 to 20 pounds of hay per day. Horses consume 2.5% of their body weight every day. Don’t forget to hydrate. A horse needs between 5 to 15 gallons or more of clean water a day depending on temperature and activity level.
2. It helps you track and understand seasonal changes.
Horses tend to lose weight in the winter. They will need extra calories to stay warm through those cold winter months. During summertime, horses put on extra fat due to easy access to grass. They will forage or munch on grass and hay up to 18 hours a day.
3. It helps you flag possible health problems and determine medication dosing.
Mis-dosing medication can have very bad consequences. It is important to know your horse’s weight before administering potent medications.
4. It helps you know how much weight your horse can carry or pull.
Usually, a horse can carry 15 to 20 percent of its body weight (e.g. 1,000 lb horse can carry a 200 lb human). Asking a horse to carry too much weight for its size puts it at an increased risk of soreness and lameness issues.
Horse Weight Tips
Weight tapes are sometimes inaccurate in estimating foals’ weight during early growth stages. It will start being more accurate at the age of 18 months.
Thoroughbreds will often be lighter than a Warmblood even if they have the same height. This is due to the latter’s heavier and bulkier build.
Underfeeding of vitamins and minerals has an impact on the skin, coat, and muscle. This leads to a fat horse with muscle wastage.
Some horses carry their weight well. And usually, the extra pounds are not always visible to the eye. You can get a clear sign of any adjustments by using a weight tape.
Proper nutrition and weight management need to be part of the health care program for a horse. This includes vaccinations, deworming, dental care, and exercise.
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!