Weight conscious about yourself? Well, be conscious about your pets’ too. All animals need a healthy weight, especially horses need to be of a healthy size. Hence, it is important to know how much do horses weigh. When you get a fair idea about the average weight of horses, you could better tell if it is becoming obese or undernourished.
So, how much do horses weigh?
Usually, horses weigh around 900-2000 pounds, but the average weight for your horse will depend on its breed, age, and numerous other factors.
To find out all about a horse’s weight, read on.
How Much Does an Average Horse Weigh?
Because there are a variety of horse breeds and conformations, the average weight has a large range. Bigger horse breeds are going to weigh more than smaller horse breeds.
For instance, large horse breeds weigh around 1700-2000 pounds, the average Clydesdale being around 1800-2000 pounds. Large horse breeds include draft horses like Percherons and Belgians. On the other hand, lightweight horses like Arabians usually weigh 900-1500 pounds. Thoroughbred horses have an average weight of 900-1100 pounds.
Ponies weigh even less, ranging from 200 pounds for a Shetland pony to 1400 pounds for a bigger pony like Haflinger.
Understanding how weight affects our equine partners is important to keep them healthy. If you’re concerned about your horse’s weight or body score, you should consult your vet. They can figure out your horse’s current weight, ideal weight, and also what nutrition it needs. Just like you, your horse is unique, and its needs may differ from its pasture mates.
How Much Do Horses Weigh at Birth?
Interestingly, regardless of the breed, all foals weigh about 10% of their mother’s weight at birth. So, a mare weighing 1500 pounds will have a foal weighing 150 pounds at birth.
Horses grow rapidly and reach about 90% of their full adult height by two years old. The remaining 10% grows a little slower, it takes about the next two years of its life to reach its adult height by four.
A feeding program to the breed should be adapted when raising foals. Feeding too slowly or insufficiently can cause stunted growth, while over-feeding and too quickly puts the horse at risk for a host of Developmental Orthopedic Diseases (DOD).
Factors Impacting a Horse’s Weight
Factors leading to a horse gaining weight are similar to those impacting humans’ weight.
- The amount of food a horse eats mainly adds to their body weight and fat. Usually, horses require to eat between 1.5% to 3% of their body weight each day.
- Horses also need a lot of exercise, they have evolved so that they can stand or move the whole day. If your horse eats the recommended percentage and does not exercise, it’ll become overweight, resulting in health and joint problems.
- A horse’s oral health has a huge impact on its weight. If your horse loses weight rapidly, its teeth might be the culprit. When a horse has bad or sharp teeth, they are less likely to eat. Examine your horse’s dental health if you observe a change in their eating habits.
- Moreover, the season also has an impact on a horse’s weight. Like many other domestic animals, horses tend to lose a little weight in winters and gain it back in the summer. That is because of the eating habits—horses eat more in summers because resources are easily available. Whenever forage declines in winters, they eat less, and their caloric needs increase, resulting in weight loss.
How to Find Out a Horse’s Weight?
If your horse’s weight has you worried, you need to find out exactly how much does your horse weigh. Just like humans, the perfect way to find out your horse’s weight is through an equestrian scale. Unfortunately, these scales are not available to everyone. If you don’t have access to one, there are other techniques to estimate your horses’ weight with.
They won’t be as accurate as a scale but will be close enough to measure if your horse is of a healthy weight.
A weighbridge is a huge set of scales mostly used for weighing large transports like tractors-trailers and train cars. Taking your horse on one of such scales is the simplest and most precise way to find out its weight, though not everyone can be able to get access to a weighbridge.
Weight tape is a special measuring tape with units listed in pounds instead of inches or feet. For this method, you’ll need to wrap the weight tape around your horse at its heart girth. This will provide you a rough estimate of your horse’s weight.
The main drawback of this instrument is that it is only useful for horses that have a typical body type for their breed. If your horse is particularly smaller or larger than other horses within their breed, the findings may not be as accurate.
Another way to weigh your horse is through calculations. For this technique, you will need a calculator and measuring tape. It’s very simple.
To measure a mature horse, measure its 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, place those numbers into the following formula:
(Heart girth x heart girth x body length) / 330
The outcome will be your horse’s weight in pounds.
For calculation purposes, this formula is based on inches and is suitable only for adult horses. For yearling horses, replace 330 with 301. Likewise, replace 330 with 280 for weanlings and 299 for ponies.
Online Calculators use a formula to estimate your horse’s body weight. Bear in mind that the results are just estimated, not “down to the pound,” as you could get with the scale.
It is the most random measure for checking a horse’s weight. Even the most skilled owners and veterinarians can be off by as much as 200 pounds. This is why we don’t recommend relying merely on eyeballing.
Body Condition Score
The finest way to verify if your horse has a healthy body weight is to use the Body Condition Score (BCS). The BCS calculates the amount of fat located under your horse’s skin in six different areas—under the neck, withers, behind the shoulder, back, rib, and tail head.
The BCS uses the Kenneke Scale that ranges from 1 to 9. One (1) indicates that your horse is underweight, while Nine (9) implies that your horse is exceedingly overweight or obese. It is best for your horse to fall between the range of 4 to 6.
Why Knowing Horse’s Weight Is Important?
It is important to know your horse’s weight for multiple reasons. Most significantly, it can tell if your horse is of a healthy weight. It is essential that your horse does not get overweight or underweight. Both can lead to severe health issues.
A few reasons why it’s good to know your horse’s weight.
It Helps You Understand How Much Should They Be Eating
Each horse is different, even for a horse with a healthy weight, tracking their weight along with their lifestyle can help you determine what to feed your horse and how much.
Horses consume 1.5% to 3% of their body weight a day, you can’t give them the accurate amount of food if you do not know their body weight. The average mature horse needs about 15 to 20 pounds of hay per day.
Don’t forget the drinks! A horse requires around 5 to 15 gallons or more of clean water a day, depending on temperature and activity level.
It Helps You Monitor Seasonal Changes
Horses are likely to lose weight in winters when forage is not easily available and their caloric needs go up. Horses need extra calories to stay warm through the cold winter, and those calories impeccably come from good hay.
It is also essential to supervise the summertime eating of your horse as their munching on grass and hay goes up to 18 hours a day—especially when they have access to large swathes of pastures.
It Helps You Identify Possible Health Problems & Control Medication Dosing
Mis-dosing medication can have damaging outcomes. Hence, it is crucial to know your horse’s weight before giving out any medication.
It Helps You Know How Much Weight Your Horse Can Safely Carry or Pull
It’s important to know how much your horse weighs if you want to ride it or put a load on it. An average horse can carry around 15 to 20 percent of its body weight. That is, a 1000 pound horse should only carry around 200 lbs. or less.
Demanding a horse to lug too much weight for its size puts it at increased risk for soreness and lameness problems. Being aware of your horse’s weight makes certain that you do not put too much weight on it.
Have it down pat, weight is not the only measure of a horse’s health and condition.
While Evaluating a Horse’s Weight and Health, Observe the Following
Spine: If your horse is too thin, you will see a ridge down his back.
Ribs: For a healthy horse, its ribs should be felt but not seen.
Neck: The horse’s neck bone structure should not be too visible. If it is, the horse is underweight.
Tailhead/Croup: The tailhead of the horse should not be visible.
Withers: The withers of the horse will be easily visible if the horse is too skinny.
Things to Do if Your Horse Has an Unhealthy Weight
If you calculate your horse’s size and it seems to be overweight or underweight, it is important to address the issue to your vet. A vet will be able to weigh the horse more precisely to ensure all calculations were made right and give you additional tips and advice for helping your horse gain or lose weight.
How to Take Care of an Overweight Horse
If your horse is overweight, you will need to arrange special care to handle its weight and get it back down to a healthy level. You will need to cut back on their food and exercise them more often. It’s significant to combine these two for the best results.
Here are some more tips for catering to an overweight horse.
- Ensure easy access to an endless supply of clean drinking water.
- Guarantee access to salt, such as salt block.
- Remove high-calorie feeders and supplements from the diet as the horse does not require extra energy.
- Reduce the amount of time spent on pasture—4 hours a day is enough.
- Slowly start increasing the exercise. Begin with easy and shift to high intensity in a phased manner.
- Switch to grass forages if your horse is eating legumes.
How to Take Care of an Underweight Horse
If a horse is underweight, it could be vulnerable to a litany of health diseases, similar to an overweight horse. If your horse is slightly underweight, it may be because of a lack of calories. Other factors like age, climate, health, and environment also impact the weight of the horse and can lead to weight loss. Fortunately, it is not too difficult to help an underweight horse gain a few pounds.
Here are a few tips to consider while looking after an underweight horse:
- Provide 24/7 access to hay and pasture.
- Add grain to their diet, preferably that’s high in fat.
- Add calorie-dense forage like Alfalfa.
- Add a high-fat supplement to your horse’s daily diet—vegetable oil, flaxseed, or rice bran.
- Shift the diet bit by bit so as not to upset your horse’s stomach.
World’s Heaviest Horse
The most popular heavy draft breeds are Clydesdale, Belgium, Percheron, and the Shire. The world’s heaviest horse was a Shire, with a recorded weight of 3,300 lbs.
The present heaviest horse is a Belgian draft (Big Jake) weighing 2600 lbs.
World’s lightest Horse
The world’s lightest horse was a dwarf miniature horse (Thumbelina), she lived until 2018 and weighted barely 57 lbs.
World’s Lightest Foal
The world’s lightest foal is also a dwarf miniature horse (Einstein), who was born at 7 lbs.