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Welcome to the Equestrian Outreach Estimating A Horses Body Weight PagePhoto of Renier

Estimating A Horses Body Weight Overview

Weighing horses is necessary to monitor weight changes, estimate the gross loaded weight of your trailer or horsebox. It can also help in working out the amount to feed, but this will also depend on the breed (e.g. Thoroughbreds tend to require more feed than other breeds) and even the individual horse (horses that do not require a lot of feed are called “easy keepers”). Knowing a horse’s weight is important in calculating dosages for de-wormers or antibiotics for the horse or pony. Incorrect weight estimation may result in over-dosing or under-dosing the animal. Both scenarios can be detrimental to the health of the horse. The over-dosing of some medicinal products such as de-wormers may cause toxicity problems, colic or other complications which may result in the death of the animal. Under-dosing, in the case of antibiotics, will not produce the desired effects of the drug. The animal will likely experience only limited relief of the disease symptoms, and the disease process will progress, threatening the well-being of the horse. (Click here for more information about Colic, toxicity and equine parasites).

Three Accepted Methods Of Determining A Horses Body Weight

There are a number of methods in weighing horses (It is important to note that weight accuracy depends on the horse, the breed and the person taking the measurements):

  1. Large Weigh Scale: Using a large weigh scale is the most accurate but may be unpractical.
  2. Using a Horse Weigh Tape: Only slightly less accurate that a weigh scale (Depending on what source of information that you use).
  3. Using Body Measurements: The least accurate method to weigh a horse (Depending on what source of information that you use).

Large Weigh Scale: Of the three above methods to determine a horse's weight, the use of a weigh scale is the most accurate way to determine a horse's weight. Scales are not an item commonly found on most horse farms. However, horses could be taken to locations in the community, where weigh scales are available, such as grain elevators and land fill sites. Standardize when weights will be taken since feeding and watering will significantly affect the differences in weight between readings.
Horse Weight Tape: (Click here to see an Illustration) Standardize when weights will be taken since feeding and watering will significantly affect the differences in weight between readings. A horse weight tape is a simple and effective way to estimate a horse's weight at a fraction of the cost of a weigh scale and with minimal effort. The weight is determined by wrapping the tape around the heart girth of the horse, directly behind the elbow, overlapping the ends of the tape, and reading the resultant weight. The reading should be taken with the tape snugly in place, at the time of respiratory expiration. Tape accuracy is dependent on the user, the breed of horse and age. They are useless on miniature horses and foals. They are also inaccurate on high withered horses. However, on the average horse, they estimate the weight of a horse more accurately than most owners. Weight tapes are readily available in most tack and feed shops. (Click here for a list of Tack & Feed Stores)

Taking a Horses Weight Using Body Measurements: (Click here to see an Illustration) Standardize when weights will be taken since feeding and watering will significantly affect the differences in weight between readings.Various body measurements are used singly or together to estimate the body weight of horses.  
Heart Girt Measurement: To measure a horse's heart girth, measure (inches or centimeters) from the base of the withers down to a couple of inches behind the horse's front legs, under the belly, then up the opposite side to where you started.
Body Length Measurement: To measure a horse's length, measure (inches or centimeters) from the point of the shoulder to the point of the hip. Notice this may cause your tape measure to run at an angle as shown by the blue line in the photograph at right. The measurement you arrive at is your horse's length.
Body Measurement Formula For Adult horses: Heart girth X heart girth X length, divided by 300, + 50 = weight
Foal weight 0 - 60 days: Wt (kg) = [heart girth in inches - 25] ÷ .07
(Note: The measurement formulas for foal is not accurate. An interesting fact: The average thoroughbred or standard bred foal doubles its weight in the first 28 days.)