Horses can vary quite a lot in height and weight. An average horse weighs between 380-1,000 kg, depending on its breed, age, and height.
For example, a Shires weigh between 770-1225 kg, whereas a Miniature Horse ranges between 90-225 kg. Of course, these are the two extremes and most horses are somewhere in the middle
For a healthy weight, it comes down to height, breadth, muscle mass and even occupation, time of the year, and breed. A Thoroughbred will often be lighter than a Warmblood, for example, although both may have the same height: this is due to the latter’s heavier, bulkier build.
Horse Weight and Height Chart
Weight and height range for common horse breeds.
|Horse Breed||Weight (kg)||Height (cm)|
|American Quarter Horse||455 - 590||142 - 170|
|Andalusian||545 - 590||152 - 162|
|Appaloosa||455 - 590||142 - 152|
|Arabian||410 - 500||142 - 150|
|American Cream draft||725 - 905||152 - 170|
|Ardennes||635 - 725||142 - 152|
|Belgian Draft||860 - 1000||142 - 180|
|Cleveland Bay||545 - 680||162 - 184|
|Clydesdale||725 - 815||161 - 172|
|Criollo||545 - 590||150 - 160|
|Dutch Warmblood||545 - 590||160 - 170|
|Gypsy Vanner||620 - 750||155 - 168|
|Hackney||410 - 545||153 - 160|
|Hanoverian||545 - 635||162 - 175|
|Irish Draught||590 - 680||160 - 170|
|Lipizzaner||410 - 545||150 - 160|
|Morgan||410 - 545||142 - 152|
|Oldenburg||545 - 680||162 - 172|
|Orlov Trotter||455 - 590||152 - 170|
|Paso Fino||545 - 590||140 - 152|
|Percheron||860 - 955||160 - 172|
|Saddlebred, American||455 - 545||150 - 164|
|Shire||770 - 1225||162 - 180|
|Spanish Mustang||365 - 455||120 - 144|
|American Standardbred||545 - 600||142 - 152|
|Suffolk||770 860||160 - 172|
|Tennessee Walker||410 - 635||150 - 152|
|Thoroughbred||455 - 590||160 - 170|
|Trakehner||545 - 680||160 - 172|
|Walkaloosa||455 - 590||142 - 152|
|Gypsy Vanner||455 590||142 - 152|
How to Measure the Weight of a Horse
Because of their size, even for ponies, it can be hard to measure a horse’s weight accurately. Equine scales do exist, but they aren’t exactly common, and thus, not always accessible.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to estimate the weight of a horse. A weigh tape is an easy method to figure out. These tapes are very common, and feed dealers will even give them for free. They are like any measuring tape, made of cloth, but instead of measuring the length in inches (or centimetres), they measure in pounds (or kilograms).
Measuring the Heart Girth Using a Weigh Tape
The heart girth is a principal value to calculate your horse’s weight based on its size. With a measuring tape or weight tape, run it around the horse’s torso, right behind the withers and behind the elbows, a few inches away from the forelegs. The tape will have a slight angle to it, which is the correct way to measure.
For this, the horse should be calm, and with the head relaxed, so it won’t give a false measurement due to stress, bunching muscles or inflated lungs.
It’s best to repeat the process of measuring the heart girth several times, as the horse’s natural breathing pattern will interfere with the length measured.
However, a weigh tape isn’t always accurate and can have a significant divergence depending on the horse’s body shape.
However, it’s still 90% accurate for most cases. Since they’re cheap and readily available, though, it works as a quick and easy method to have at hand. Below is the most popular weigh tape
If not using a weigh tape, you can use an ordinary measuring tape. To do so, measure the horse at the heart girth, same as with the weigh one. However, with this method, you’ll also need to measure the length of the horse’s body, from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock.
With these measurements in hand, you’ll have to do a simple calculation to get the horse’s weight. This depends on whether you measure in centimetres or inches. If the measure is in centimetres, your formula should be:
(heart girth x heart girth x body length) / 11,990
The result will be in kilograms. For inches, it should be:
(heart girth x heart girth x body length) / 330
The result will be in pounds.
Are They Accurate?
Both measuring and weigh tapes give a rough estimate of the horse’s total body weight, but they are not as precise as an actual scale would be.
For this reason, they might not be useful in all situations, although they’re generally good enough for most purposes.
Note that the measuring tape method won’t work for foals, pregnant mares, very fit sports horses and long-bodied horses, as these introduce variables that the formula isn’t enough to calculate. It does work for heavy horses such as drafts, but it’ll often be on the low side — as these horses have very dense bones, which affects their overall heaviness.
There are online calculators which can be even more precise than doing it yourself, but nothing is as accurate as an actual scale.
Why is a Horse’s Weight so Important?
Of course, the vast amount of variation in size doesn’t mean weight shouldn’t be watched. As with all animals, being underweight or overweight can become a severe risk to the horse’s overall health.
Because of this, it’s essential to keep a close watch on the horse’s weight, and whether it fits in the normal range.
Knowing your horse’s weight is essential not just to assess the overall fitness, but also to balance diet and medication. A horse will eat approximately 1-2% of their weight in hay, and drink the same amount in water.
Therefore, it’s important to dose accordingly. A horse, the size of Big Jake (who weighs an astonishing 2,200 pounds!), will eat significantly more than your average riding horse.
Medication needs to adjust to the horse’s weight to be useful as well. Too much, and you might accidentally give your horse an overdose, which is never a good thing. This is especially true for stronger medication. Some, such as dewormers, are less precise.
Like humans, horses will undergo fluctuations in body weight across their lives. It’s common for horses to lose weight in winter, due to lack of forage, and gain this weight back in summer.
However, if there’s weight loss or gain without any known reason, this may point to other, underlying health issues. A horse losing weight for no apparent reason may have dental problems, for example.
If you have a good grasp on your horse’s average weight, you can track the seasonal changes it undergoes. Therefore, it’ll be a lot easier to identify problems if there are changes that look unusual or out the horse’s norm.
How Much Does a Foal Weigh?
Interestingly, a healthy foal will weigh 10% of its mother’s weight, independent of the breed. This discounts foals who are unusually large or unusually small, but on average, it’s a good standard to keep in mind when measuring a foal’s weight. This happens even when the father is smaller or bigger than the mother — the weight will always be relative to the mother’s weight alone.
An average Quarter horse’s foal will weigh around 150 pounds at birth (68 kg), compared to a 1,500 pound (680 kg) mother. First-time mares will usually give birth to smaller foals.
Foals who weigh significantly less than 10% of the mother’s weight are likely premature or have birth issues, so you should call the vet immediately. Twins will often be born under average weight (if they are born alive at all) and may run the risk of death because of this.
What Should my Horse’s Weight be?
Fortunately, many breeds have a range of what’s considered acceptable in their breed standards. This adjusts for muscle and bone mass: a 15 hh draft horse will weigh significantly more than a 15 hh Thoroughbred, for a good reason. One has a lot of muscle and bone mass, whereas the other doesn’t.
Some Popular Breed Weights
Note that these are broad averages, with individual horses weighing more or less according to their size, muscle mass and general fitness.
- Arabian: 800 to 1,000 lbs (360 to 450 kg)
- Clydesdale: 1,800 to 2,000 lbs (860 to 910 kg)
- Thoroughbred: 880 to 1,300 lbs (400 to 600 kg)
- Miniature horse: 198 to 496 lbs (90 to 225 kg)
- Quarter Horse: 1,000 to 1,300 lbs (455 to 590 kg)
- Shire: 1,800 50 2,400 lbs (800 to 1100 kg)
To find out what the biggest horse breeds are, read our top 7 biggest horse breeds guide here.
Also, don’t forget to check out our popular horse quizzes here.
- Sampson was the world’s heaviest horse, weighing 3,360 lbs (1,524 kg). He stood a towering 21.2 hh and is the world’s tallest horse in history.
- Thumbelina, on the other hand, is the lightest horse alive: she weighs only 57 lbs (25 kg). She wasn’t the smallest foal, however, as that honor goes to Einstein, born weighing only 6 lbs (2.7 kg).
- A horse’s head on average corresponds to 10% of its total body weight.
- The Shetland pony is often considered the strongest breed relative to its size. Despite its tiny size, can carry as much as twice their weight — although that’s not advisable, as the extra weight can cause severe damage to the horse’s health.