Yes, you already know that horses are mighty animals used for several purposeful tasks, but how much do horses weigh? Why is it even important? Well, if you are struggling to find out if your equine’s weight is ideal or not, you might just find your answer here.
On average, a horse weighs 900 to 1100 pounds. However, this is likely to vary with the different kinds of breeds, their height as well as their age and gender. Horse rearing can certainly seem complicated when it comes to checking their weight to make feeding decisions accordingly.
The primary focus of this article is not only to identify the average weight of a horse, but also the importance of weighing a horse, how to weigh a horse, and factors that affect the weight of an equine. Apart from this, you will also learn how to help your horse lose weight if it’s getting obese.
What is the Average Weight of a Horse?
Due to varying breeds and sizes, you can divide horses into light-weight, medium-weight, and heavy-weight. How much a horse weighs generally ranges from 900-2000 pounds.
Keep scrolling to dive a bit deeper into the three categories respectively:
Cold-blooded horses are the heaviest horse ones. Their weight ranges from 1400-2000 pounds. Draft horses are the most well-known breeds in this category. Their calm and gentle nature makes them suitable for farm labor. Besides, these horses have served in world wars as an armor pulling mechanism. Three of the heaviest weigh horses in this category are Shires, Clydesdales, and Belgiums.
Warm-blooded horses are medium-sized horses with weight ranging from 1200 to 1450 pounds. The horse breeds in this category are highly suitable for riding and sports purposes. Unlike the draft horses, warm-blooded horses are finer boned as well as way more active and fast. Some of the star horse breeds in the warm blood category are American Warmblood, Dutch Warmblood, and the Trakehner.
The hot blood horse breed contains the lightest horses, weighing an average of 1000 pounds. The breed is known for its aggressive nature and hot climate inheritance. Hailing mainly from the Middle East, some of the breeds termed hot-blooded include Arabian horses, Barb, and the Thoroughbred.
Why Is Horse Weight So Important?
To maintain good health and be ready to accept any challenging task, a horse needs to be fit in all regards. Its weight is a crucial factor in determining health and overall fitness. Moreover, since different horse breeds lie in different size categories, knowing how much a horse weighs considering its breed will prevent your animal from becoming overweight or underweight.
Furthermore, it is also essential to set a proper feeding regime for your horse while deciding which supplements should be given alongside. A bigger horse will eat much more than your average riding horse and it will therefore become easier if you have an accurate figure of its weight. Only then can you be sure of how to go about feeding and supplementing it.
If you’re interested in adding weight gain supplements in your horse’s diet, then here’s a list of our favorite ones.
Also, horses tend to undergo fluctuations in their weight in different seasons. They usually lose weight in winters and put on in summers. Nonetheless, losing or gaining weight abnormally can be alarming, thus you should get a proper evaluation of your horse’s weight done.
How to Weigh Your Horse?
You obviously can’t just glance at an equine and guess its weight. An equine that looks fit and happy might be overweight in reality, and vice versa. Hence, ditch the guess work and invest time in actually weighing your majestic buddy with either one of the following methods:
When using weighting tape, all you need to do is stand your horse on a flat surface, hold one end of the tape, then move the tape around the horseback. Now take the readings that hit the zero ends. The result you get is your horse’s average weight.
Another way to calculate how much a horse weighs is by doing a little calculation through formulas. You will need to use the heart girth and body length (from shoulder to tail) to estimate horse weight. Check out the slightly differing formulas for different horse types below:
- Pony: heart girth x hearth girth x body length / 299
- Weanling: heart girth x hearth girth x body length /280
- Yearling: heart girth x hearth girth x body length /301
- Average Adult Horse: heart girth x hearth girth x body length /300
So for example, if your horse measures 75 inches in the heart girth and 60 inches in body length, you will get the bodyweight equals 1,125 lbs.
The easiest way to weigh your horse is simply taking it to the livestock weighing scale and take the readings. Make your horse stand still on the scale and measure the weight readings on it. This is probably the most accurate method among all three mentioned here. With the whole horse standing on the scale there are hardly any chances for errors in calculations.
Factors Affecting Horse Weight
Despite a proper care routine, there are certain factors that may cause fluctuations in the average weight of a horse. These include the following:
Lack of optimum nutrition in diet can be a key reason for lower weight. Different horse breeds have specific dietary needs and cannot grow on a common diet. Similarly, low-quality feed is another factor contributing to malnutrition in horses.
Disease in organs, like the liver or kidneys, can be another reason for weight loss. Furthermore, the production of inflammatory hormones can affect the digestion system badly causing different health problems followed by sudden weight loss.
Gastrointestinal parasites is the most central medical issue in horses that robs them of nutrition. It causes inflammation and severe damage to a horse’s digestion track, affecting the horse’s ability to digest and absorb the nutrition appropriately.
Body Condition Score
In order to ensure that the weight of their equine falls in a healthy range, horse owners can conveniently use the body condition scoring system. This is a baseline test that helps to accurately evaluate the animal’s overall health and wellbeing irrespective of its breed, age, and gender.
Nevertheless, you no longer have to engage in guesswork revolving around two important queries: how much does a horse weigh, and whether it’s right for its size.
To understand this better, here’s how the Henneke Equine Body Condition Scoring System works:
- Inspect the steed thoroughly in fat prone areas like ribs, withers, shoulders, neck, loins, and tailhead. Make sure to apply pressure with your hand on each part rather than simply stroking them.
- Identify the area of fat and its quantity on the horse’s body, and assign a numerical value to it accordingly.
- Sum up the individual ratings you have given to each fatty area on the horse to get a final score.
The BCS system ranks equines on a scale of 1 to 9, where 1 is the lowest value. Moreover, horses with a body condition score of 1 are considered emaciated, and the ones scoring 9 are deemed obese. Wondering what the ideal BCS of a horse might be? Take a look at the break-up of the scores below:
- Abnormally weak to Underweight: BCS 1 – 3
- Moderately thin with a faint but noticeable outline of ribs showing: BCS 4
- Adequately fit: BCS 5
- Moderately fleshy: BCS 6
- Ideal score where the horse is neither too thin nor too fleshy: BCS 4 – 6
- Overweight and prone to diseases and other health issues as well as poor performance: BCS 7 – 9
How to Help Your Horse Lose Weight
Knowing that your horse is overweight, or obese, and not doing anything about it will ultimately lead to alarming consequences in the long run. What you should rather focus on is how to help your steed shed off that unnecessary fat. Need some tips? Scroll on!
The first and foremost, in fact the easiest thing you can do to help your horse lose weight, is increase exercise. You can start with gradually intensify its workload or incorporate more trotting and long, slow canters in its routine.
Feeding it lesser food will do no good alone unless the animal burns more calories than it consumes. Thus, exercising will pump up its metabolism while minimizing insulin resistance and building muscle mass.
This is totally a win-win as not only will the steed lose weight, it will simultaneously become more active due to the regime. This will thus eventually lead to a boost in overall performance and health.
Use Key Supplements
Feeding horses a staple diet of just hay or grass can eventually lead to vitamin deficiency in them. It is therefore advisable to incorporate key supplements in your equine’s diet regardless of how much a horse weighs. However, you can easily balance out the missing nutrients and vitamins from its feed by offering supplements instead of treats.
What are these key supplements? Well, most of the times, horses are under-supplied with omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and vitamin E. Hence, make sure that your steed isn’t deprived of these essential nutrients, especially if a large portion of its daily diet consists of hay.
Omega-3 fatty acids ensure proper immune function and joint health while improving hoof and hair condition. Whereas, magnesium helps in reducing insulin level and vitamin E works together with selenium to maintain overall health of the horse. Moreover, supplements can be mixed into non-starchy small meals.
Forage should be made available to horses at all times regardless of their age or weight. The animal’s digestive system is habitual of having forage move through it 24/7. Giving them the freedom to graze consistently will not lead to overeating but self-regulation of their intake.
As a matter of fact, feeding horses an all-forage diet can be highly beneficial to them health wise. However, you also need to be mindful of the quantity you are feeding. For instance, although Alfafa makes a wonderful addition to horse diet, it contains more calories than grass and should thus be limited to only 20% of the overall forage ration.
Avoid Sugar-rich Treats
If your horse if obese, removing all grain and sugar-rich treats from its diet is a viable thing to do. Cereal grains such as barley, oats, wheat, and corn are all concentrated feeds and are better to avoid when your horse weighs more than it should on average. You can instead offer them foods that are low in starch such as beet pulp, flax, alfafa and soybean.
Similarly, some favorite horse foods, such as carrots and apples, also need to be avoided since they have a tendency to increase the steed’s blood insulin levels. Though one apple a day might seemingly not be as harmful, it is still best for an obese and insulin resistant horse to rely more on hay for its calorie intake.
It is natural for owners of overweight horses to worry when their pet has complete access to pasture. There is no way that they will know how much calorie the steed is consuming when left to graze freely.
A grazing muzzle can be a great solution for limiting access to pasture without making it feel too obvious. The muzzle helps in making significant reductions of the horse’s pasture intake, without restricting movement or social interaction.
FAQs Related to How Much Horses Weigh
To a layman, how much a horse weighs can appear as a tricky question. With the mighty build of the animal, you might hardly be able to figure out whether or not it is overweight.
Just to make this identification easier for you, we’ve listed out to answers to the most common queries regarding the average weight of a horse. Check them out right here:
The average weight of a horse in kg varies between 380 to 1000kg. However, this also depends on the equine’s breed, height and age. For example, a Thoroughbred can weigh around 900 to 1100 pounds whereas a full grown Clydesdale is more likely to weigh approximately 1800 to 2000 pounds. On the other hand, pony breeds weigh lesser due to their size.
What is the heaviest horse?
Draft horses are popularly known to be the heaviest in the world. In fact, the Shire gelding Sampson, a draft horse breed, was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records to be the heaviest horse, weighing 3300 pounds, in 1850. No other equine has broken this record till date.
Although the average weight of a riding horse hardly exceeds 1000-1100 pounds, draft horses can weigh up to 2000 pounds. In fact, it won’t be dishonest to say that mighty draft horses weigh a ton or so when fully grown.
The average height of horses is 15 HH in general. Hence, a 15-hand horse would weigh approximately 900 to 1100 pounds.
The weight of Clydesdale horses slightly vary as per their gender. The adult male Clydesdale can weigh around 1700 to 2200 pounds, whereas the female easily weighs between1500 to 2000 on average.
How much a horse weighs under perfect health conditions can be determined by using the Henneke Body Scoring system. This is the most reliable method of evaluating how much subcutaneous fat exists across six main points on the animal’s body. This includes the neck area, withers, bach, behind the shoulder, tailhead and the ribs area.
The system calls for the physical inspection of the horse and rate the body condition on a scale of 1 (extremely weak) to 9 (obese). Ideally, horses with a healthy weight should fall in the 4 to 6 range. Any score more or less then this, points at the need for immediate attention on the equine’s health.
In a nutshell, it is imperative for horse owners to be aware of how much a horse weighs, or should weigh on average. Sure, the equine has several genetic tendencies and contrasting metabolic rates that may cause fluctuations in its weight, but this doesn’t mean that these changes should be ignored or taken lightly. A horse that is underweight or obese is not only prone to chronic illnesses; it is also an under-performer.
Notably, diet and chronic illnesses can also affect how much a horse weighs. However, with a proper feeding routine and key supplements, you can easily maintain the steed’s health and well-being in the long run. Just make sure to keep the horses weight in check using whichever method you prefer. Also, it is essential to compare how much a horse weighs against the Body Condition Score (BCS) to ensure that it just ideal.