It is not very often that people check their horse’s weight. Many of us usually don’t know the ideal weight of our horses. One of the reasons for this is that the average weight of a horse lies within a large range. There are many factors to consider before determining the right horse weight.

Why is it important to understand the average weight of a horse?

The topic of “weight’ may be taboo amongst humans. However, understanding the average weight of a horse is critical to maintaining its health.

How much does a horse weigh?

The answer to this is dependent on various factors, but the average weight of a horse ranges from 900 – 2,000 pounds depending on breed and size. The weight of a thoroughbred racing horse, for example, is typically within 1,100 pounds. The average weight of a Clydesdale, such as a Budweiser, weighs at around 1,800 – 2,000 pounds. On the other hand, Ponies can weigh anywhere from 200 pounds in a Shetland Pony to 1,400 for a bigger pony such as a Haflinger.

How much does a horse weigh at birth?

Interestingly, the average weight of a horse at birth, irrespective of breed, is roughly 10% of their mother’s weight. For instance, if a mare weighing 2,000 pounds gives birth, their offspring generally would weigh 200 pounds at birth.

How are horses weighed?

There are four ways to determine a horse’s weight.

  1. Weighing Scales – Scales are, by far, the most accurate way to figure out the weight of a horse. They are similar to the ones you see at the vet’s clinic, only much larger.
  2. Weight tapes – These are measuring tapes similar to what a tailor would use. The tape must be fitted correctly around the horse’s barrel. The measurement of their barrel then must be incorporated into a formula (mentioned in FAQs). This method can be slightly inaccurate for larger, growing, and smaller horses. However, if you wish to determine an average-sized horse’s weight, this method is relatively accurate.
  3. Horse weight calculators – Modern technology has allowed us the opportunity to figure out our horse’s weight by merely filling out a few details online. The calculator requires you to fill in certain measurements of the horse, and just like that, it calculates the weight of your horse.
  4. Eyeballing – This is the most arbitrary and inefficient method in the list of gauging the horse’s weight. This is a method where a person calculates the weight of a horse by merely looking at it. Even the most knowledgeable and skilled veterinarians or professionals can be off by as much as 150 – 200 pounds.

Why do we need to know a horse’s weight?

We have already discussed the importance of knowing the average weight of a horse. Here, we will discuss the importance of knowing exactly how much a horse weighs. Some reasons are mentioned below.

1. It’ll help us understand the feeding requirements – An average adult horse requires about 15 – 20 pounds of hay daily. They need to consume 2.5% of their body weight in hay. For instance, if a horse weighs 1,000 pounds, it must ideally consume 25 pounds of hay daily.

2. It’ll help us understand and monitor seasonal changes – A horse’s weight is reduced during winters. The caloric needs of the horse, therefore, increase. They need these extra calories to stay warm as well. The caloric intake during summers should be monitored as horses tend to gain weight during this time when it is easier to access grass. They tend to munch on grass for up to 18 hours daily. Here’s where a grazing muzzle can be helpful. To learn more about a grazing muzzle, click here.

3. It’ll help us detect health issues and determine accurate medicine dosage – A wrong dosage of medicine can be fatal to a horse’s health. It is therefore imperative to not only understand the average weight of a horse but its precise weight. As mentioned earlier, even the most skilled professionals and veterinarians can be off on a horse’s weight by up to 200 pounds.

4. It’ll help us understand how much weight a horse can safely pull or carry – Typically, a horse can withstand weights of up to 15 – 20% of its body weight. This means that a horse that weighs 2,000 pounds should not be allowed to lift or pull more than 400 pounds. Expecting a horse to carry more than this adversely affects their joints.

We have now understood why it is important to know the average weight of a horse and the precise weight of the horse. However, it is important to understand that the horse’s weight is not the only health indicator. 

While evaluating the weight, it is also important to inspect other factors, as mentioned below.

  1. Spine – Ideally, the spine of the horse must not be visible to the naked eye. In the case of an overtly underweight horse, you will be able to see the spine ridging out of the horse.
  2. Ribs – As a rule of thumb, if you can see a horse’s ribs, the horse’s weight needs to be increased. On the contrary, if you are unable to feel the horse’s ribs, the horse’s weight needs to be reduced.
  3. Withers – If the withers of the horse are easily visible, the horse is likely underweight.
  4. Neck – Similarly, the neck of the horse shouldn’t be visible. If it is, this is an indicator of an underweight horse.

FAQs

1. How much does a horse weigh?

The average weight of a horse lies between 900 – 2,000 pounds.

2. What is the formula to calculate a horse’s weight using weight tapes?

The formula to calculate the weight is as follows:

(Heart Girth X Heart Girth X Length)

_____________________________ + 50

                              330  

It is important to note that this formula is for measuring adult horses. For yearlings use 310 rather than 330. For weanlings, use 280. Use 299 for ponies.

3. How much should my horse weigh?

As mentioned, the average weight of a horse lies within a large range. Therefore, to understand your horse’s ideal weight, determine the breed standard, or consult with your veterinarian.

4. Where can I find a horse weight calculator?

Horse weight calculators can easily be found online.

5. How much hay do I have to feed my horse daily?

This depends on your horse’s weight. Generally, horses need to consume 2.5% of their body weight in hay. However, it is advised that you consult a veterinarian to understand your horse’s feeding requirements accurately.

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