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How Much Does A Horse Weigh?

Oliver Jones

Many people are obsessed with their own weight, but they often forget that the weight of their pet is just as important. Though no animal benefits from having an unhealthy weight, horses especially need to be of a healthy size. This makes it important to know how much your horse should and does way.

Horses typically weigh between 900 and 2,000 pounds, but the average weight for your horse will depend on its breed, age, and several other factors. To find out more about the average horse weight, as well as how to weigh your horse, keep reading.

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How Much Does A Horse Weigh?

Because there are a variety of horse breeds and shapes, the average weight has a large range. The average-sized horse will weigh anywhere between 900–2,000 pounds. As you would assume, bigger horse breeds are going to weigh more than smaller horse breeds.

For example, large horse breeds will most likely weigh between 1,700–2,000 pounds. Large horse breeds include draft horses like Belgians or Percherons. Conversely, light horses, like Arabians, typically weigh 900–1,500 pounds. Ponies will weigh even less.

horse galloping in the field
Image Credit: jean-pierre duretz, Pixabay

What Factors Impact A Horse’s Weight?

Factors that lead to a horse’s weight are similar to the factors that impact a human’s weight. How much food the horse eats will largely contribute to their body weight and body fat. Most horses need to eat between 1.5% and 3% of their body weight each day.

In addition, horses need a whole lot of exercise. They have evolved so that they can stand or move nearly the entire day. If your horse does not exercise enough but still eats the recommended percentage, it will quickly become overweight, leading to health and joint problems.

One surprising factor that affects a horse’s weight is its oral health. If your horse quickly loses weight, its teeth may be to blame. When a horse has a sharp or bad tooth, they are likely not to eat. Check the dental health of your horse if you notice their eating habits changing.

Additionally, the season can impact your horse’s weight. Like many other animals, horses tend to lose a little bit of weight in the winter and gain it back in the summer. That’s because horses eat more in the summer because resources are more available. Whenever forage decreases in the winter, they eat less, and their caloric needs increase, leading to less weight.

Horse Breed Weight Chart

Horse Breed  Average Weight (lb)
American Warmblood 1,212–1,322 lb
Arabian 793–992 lb
Ardennes 1,543–2,205 lb
Cleveland Bay 1,212–1,543 lb
Clydesdale 1,543–1,764 lb
Connemara Pony 639–860 lb
Dales Pony 882–1,102 lb
Dartmoor Pony 441–705 lb
Dutch Warmblood 1,212–1,322 lb
Eriskay Pony 661–882 lb
Exmoor Pony 661–882 lb
Fell Pony 772–992 lb
Hackney 882–1,212 lb
Hackney Pony 551–772 lb
Haflinger 772–1,322 lb
Hanoverian 1,212–1,433 lb
Highland Pony 1,102–1,322 lb
Holsteiner 992–1,764 lb
Irish Draught 1,322–1,764 lb
New Forest Pony 507–728 lb
Percheron 1,874–2,094 lb
Shetland Pony 397–441 lb
Shire 1,543–2,646 lb
Spotted Pony 441–882 lb
Suffolk Punch 1,653–1,984 lb
Swedish Warmblood 882–1,212 lb
Thoroughbred 992–1,102 lb
Welara 661–882 lb
Westphalian 992–1,322 lb

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How Can I Find Out How Much My Horse Weighs?

If you are concerned about your horse’s weight, you need to find out exactly how much they weigh. Just as with humans, the most accurate way to determine your horse’s weight is to use an equestrian scale. If you know a veterinarian with an equestrian scale, give them a call to see if you can use the scale to weigh your horse.

Unfortunately, these scale types are not available to everyone. If you are one of these people, there are other ways that you can estimate your horse’s weight. These techniques won’t be as accurate as a scale, but they will be close enough to gauge if your horse is of a healthy weight.

Weighbridge

A weighbridge is a giant set of scales that is mainly used for weighing large transports like tractor-trailers and train cars. Taking your horse on one of these scales is the easiest and most accurate way to figure out its weight, though not everyone will be able to get access to a weighbridge.

Weight Tape

Weight tape is a special measuring tape that has units listed in pounds, not inches or feet. For this method, you will need to wrap the weight tape around your horse at its heart girth. This will give you a rough estimate of your horse’s weight.

The main downside of this option is that weight tapes are primarily only useful for horses that have a typical body type for their breed. If your horse is notably smaller or larger than other horses within their breed, the findings may not be as accurate.

Weight Calculations

Another way to estimate your horse’s weight is to do weight calculations on your own. You will need a calculator and measuring tape for this technique. If you are not very good at math, don’t worry. This technique is really simple to do.

To measure a mature horse, simply measure their heart girth and body length. The heart girth will be measured at the base of the mane and down below the rib cage. As for the body length, place the measuring tape between the hind thigh and center of the chest.

Then, insert those numbers into the following formula: (heart girth x heart girth x body length) / 330. The result will be your horse’s weight in pounds.

For calculation purposes, this formula is based on inches and is only suitable for adult horses. For yearling horses, substitute 330 with 301. Similarly, substitute 330 with 280 for weanlings and 299 for ponies.

Why Do I Need to Know How Much My Horse Weighs?

It is important to know your horse’s weight for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, it can tell you if your horse is of a healthy weight. It is imperative that horses do not get overweight or underweight. Both could lead to serious issues in a short matter of time.

Even for horses of a healthy weight, tracking their weight tells you how much you should be feeding them. Once again, horses need to eat 1.5% to 3% of their body weight a day. You can’t give them the correct amount of food if you don’t know how much they weigh.

More so, it’s important to know how much your horse weighs if you want to ride it. Horses can carry about 15% to 20% of their body weight. For example, a 1,000-pound horse should only carry a rider that is 200 lbs. or less. Knowing the horse’s weight ensures you don’t put too much on its back.

horse in the lawn
Image Credit: _Alicja_, Pixabay

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Body Condition Score

The best way to determine if your horse is of a healthy weight is to use the body condition score (BCS). The BCS evaluates how much fat is located under your horse’s skin in six different areas. This includes under the neck, withers, behind the shoulder, back, rib, and tail head.

The BCS will use the Kenneke Scale, which ranges from 1 to 9. 1 means that the horse is underweight, whereas 9 means the horse is extremely overweight or obese. It is best for your horse to fall between the 4 to 6 range.

What to Do If Your Horse Has An Unhealthy Weight?

If you calculate your horse’s size and it appears to be of unhealthy weight, it is important to talk to your veterinarian about the issue. A veterinarian will be able to weigh the horse more accurately to ensure that all the calculations were done right.

For overweight horses, you will need to cut back on their food and exercise them more. It is important to combine these two techniques for optimal results. Your vet should give you additional tips and advice for helping your horse lose weight.

Horses can be underweighted, too. If your horse is just slightly underweight, it may be because it is not getting enough calories. Make sure that they have 24/7 access to hay. You might also need to add grain to their diet. Change the feed gradually so as not to upset the horse’s stomach.

Other factors can impact an underweight horse as well. Age, climate, health, and environment can all lead to a horse losing weight. Talk to your veterinarian about any possible health issues leading to your horse’s underweight status.

How to Care for An Overweight Horse

If you determine that your horse is overweight, you’ll need to provide specific care to help manage its weight and get it back down to a healthy level. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

  • Ensure your horse has easy access to an endless supply of clean drinking water and salt, such as a salt block.
  • Remove high-calorie feeders and supplements from the diet as the horse doesn’t need the extra energy.
  • Reduce the amount of time the horse has access to the pasture; four hours per day is a good place to start.
  • Start slowly increasing exercise each day. Begin with easy exercise and increase the intensity and duration over time.
  • If your horse is eating legumes, switch to grass forages as they have significantly reduced caloric impact.
horse eating grass
Image Credit: Qwas, Pixabay

How to Care for An Underweight Horse

Overweight horses tend to be a bit more common than underweight horses, but if a horse is underweight, it could be susceptible to a litany of health concerns similar to an overweight horse. Luckily, it’s usually not too difficult to help an underweight horse gain a few pounds. If you find yourself caring for an underweight horse, try these steps:

  • Provide constant access to hay or a pasture for grazing so your horse can eat at any time day or night.
  • Switch to a more calorically dense type of forage, such as alfalfa, which generally has more calories and protein than other kinds of forage.
  • Add grain into your horse’s diet if it’s not eating grain already. Try using a grain that’s intended for performance or workhorses as these contain more calories to help your horse gain weight faster.
  • If you’re already feeding grain to the horse, then try switching grains to one that’s meant for performance. You want something that’s high in fat; 10%-12% is a good place to start.
  • Add a high-fat supplement into your horse’s daily diet, such as flaxseed, vegetable oil, or rice bran.

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Final Thoughts

Once again, the average horse weighs between 900 and 2,000 pounds. Knowing your horse’s weight can help pinpoint any health issues to ensure that your horse is living its best life possible. Pay most attention to the body condition score and talk to your veterinarian if you are concerned about your horse’s weight.

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Featured Image: Yurkovski, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.