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Measuring Your Horse Or Pony Correctly

a old image of measuring a horse

Measuring a horse or pony accurately is a fundamental skill for horse owners, veterinarians, and equine enthusiasts. It ensures proper management, fitting of tack, and health monitoring.

Whether you own a large horse, miniature horses, or a robust draft horse, understanding how to use a measuring stick, weight tape, and other tools is essential.

This guide will walk you through the steps and tools needed to measure a horse accurately, including the horse’s height, weight, and body length, with a special focus on horse height.

We'll cover how to accurately measure horse height using various tools, and look at the historical origins of measuring horse height in 'hands,' and explain its conversion to inches and centimeters for competition purposes.

The video below is quite a good TL;DR version:




The Basic Of Horse Measurement

Measuring a horse accurately is critical for several reasons, including health assessments, nutritional planning, and the fitting of saddles and other gear. Whether you're dealing with an average horse or specialty breeds like Shetland ponies or Welsh ponies, knowing their exact size can help in effective management and care.

Essential Tools for Measuring a Horse

Measuring Devices

To start, you'll need a measuring stick—a rigid rod marked with length measurements. For weight, a horse weight tape or an equine or livestock scale is advisable. Tape measures are also necessary for measuring horse's body length and horse's heart girth.

How to Measure a Horse's Height

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Position the Horse: Place your horse on level ground and ensure it stands square, with both front legs and back legs aligned.

  2. Locate the Withers: The highest point of a horse’s back, located above the shoulder blades, is where you'll measure the horse's height.

  3. Using the Measuring Stick: Place the stick next to the horse's withers and record the height. Horse heights are traditionally measured in hands. One hand equals four inches.

Remember: When measuring breeds like quarter horses or ponies, always start from the ground and measure up to the withers for the exact height.




Estimating a Horse's Weight

Using Weight Tape

  1. Position Your Horse: Ensure your horse is calm and standing straight.

  2. Wrap the Weight Tape: Place the tape around the horse's girth, just behind the front legs, wrapping around the widest part of the horse’s belly.

  3. Read the Tape: Pull it snug, but not tight, to get an accurate estimate of the horse's weight using the marked weight measurements.

Using an Equine Scale

For a more precise measurement, lead your horse onto an equine scale and read the weight directly. This is particularly useful for managing weight loss or health monitoring.

Measuring Horse Body Length

  1. Prepare Your Horse for Measurement: Ensure your horse stands square on level ground, focusing on measuring the horse's body to assess its overall balance and appearance.

  2. Locate Key Points for Measuring Horse's Body Length: Measure from the horse’s shoulder blades to the point directly opposite on the horse’s hindquarters, identifying the horse's body length accurately.

  3. Use a Standard Tape Measure: Stretch the tape measure from point to point to determine the horse’s body length.

Tip: This measurement, involving the horse's body length, it's imprtant for selecting the right size for horse blankets and rugs, and provides a reliable indicator of the horse’s overall proportions and health.

Measuring Horse Girth for Saddle Fitting

  1. Find the Heart Girth: This is around the body, just behind the front legs, encompassing the horse's belly.

  2. Measure with a Tape Measure: Wrap the tape measure around the girth to obtain the circumference. Ensure the tape is close but not restrictive, as horses may puff their stomachs if breathing heavily.

Note: Correct girth measurement ensures that the saddle will fit properly, preventing discomfort and potential injuries.

The Importance of Regular Measurement

Measuring your horse regularly is not just about ensuring a good fit for tack but is a important aspect of managing their health and well-being. From pony's height adjustments to tracking changes in body condition, each measurement provides valuable data for effective equine management.

Useful Tools and Charts:

  • Handy Conversion Chart: Convert measurements from hands to the metric system or inches for exact calculations.

  • British Empire standard units versus metric units for international owners.

By maintaining a routine of these two measurements—height and weight—you can monitor your horse's health and ensure their comfort with accurately fitted equipment. Always aim for the final height and weight to reflect your horse's true size, free from day-to-day variations such as food intake or posture.

Final Points

Accurate measuring techniques, whether using loose tape or standard tape measures, are indispensable in the care and management of horses. They ensure that all aspects—from health monitoring to the fitting of tack—are handled with precision, thereby enhancing the well-being of these magnificent animals.

Chris Durkan

Chris is an enthusiastic horse rider and enthusiast and lives with his wife and 2 kids , just outside of Brisbane in QLD. He is a self confessed horse obsessed father, and says he makes too many horse and equestrian gear purchases for his wife and kids, which he says, makes him "qualified" to have an opinion on many of the products he buys. While he jokes he's a poor horse dad, he spends his time between his family, his small horse property, working at a local IT firm, and writing for The Equestrian.

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