The average weight of a horse is 1,100 pounds.
There are, however, 400+ different breeds of horses that are recognized to some extent in the world today. Each of these breeds has its own average weight to it as well, which means some horses may weigh more or less than 1,100 pounds and this would be considered completely normal.
For most adult horses, the weight range is generally somewhere between 840 pounds to 2,200 pounds.
How to Figure Out How Much a Horse Weighs
There are several different ways to determine how much a specific horse actually weighs. Of course the ideal method of figuring out how much a horse weighs is to use a scale. Unfortunately, the cost of horse scales is prohibitive, so being able to access them can be somewhat difficult.
For this reason, the easiest way for many owners to weigh their horse is to use a public weigh bridge. Most communities have at least one bridge that can be accessed. You will find them at landfills, junkyards, scrap yards, and similar locations. Contact the facility, tell them what you’re wanting to do, and make sure you have time to unload the horse from its trailer.
Take the trailer with the horse onto the public weigh bridge and have the facilitator get the weight reading. Then pull off to the side, unload the horse, and have the trailer weighed once again. This will give you an accurate weight for the horse.
If you’re confident in your knowledge of the trailer weight because you have the equipment specifications in front of you, then you can just weigh the horse and trailer together. Then subtract the specification weight of the trailer from the figure you are given to figure out the weight of your horse.
You also have these additional options available to you if you need to figure out the specific weight of a horse.
#1. Use the height/girth formula.
This formula can give you a fairly accurate estimate of a horse’s weight. You’ll just need a measuring tape and this specific formula: (Girth)2 x Length divided by 11,877. This will give you a weight in kilograms. Use the measuring tape to determine the girth and length and then plug in those figures. Length is measured from the shoulder to the point of the hind quarters. All measurements should be in centimeters.
#2. Use weigh tape.
Weigh tapes are considered to be about 90% accurate. Most tapes are double-sided, allowing you to measure weights for ponies and adult horses. Have your horse stand square on a surface that is flat and level. Place the tape over the lowest part of the withers, then draw the tape around the horse so that it sits close to the front angles. There should be a slight angle from the top of the tape to the withers. Keep the tape close to the body, but not tight. Then take the reading and follow the instructions of the manufacturer to determine the weight.
#3. Use a basic guideline.
This is the most inaccurate of the three methods to obtain the weight of a horse because it is based on averages. By looking at the height of the horse in hands and then looking at the type of the horse it happens to be, you can estimate its current weight. There are several guideline weight charts that are available online with a simple web search. This method is not generally useful for mixed breed horses that are of different types, such as a draught horse and an Arabian.
Interesting Facts About Horse Weights
- The smallest horse in the world weighs just 9 pounds.
- The heaviest horse in the world is a Shire horse named Sampson. He was foaled in 1846 and had a documented weight of 3,360 pounds.
- There are several Shire and Clydesdale horses in the world today that are documented as weighing between 2,900-3,100 pounds.
- The head of the horse is responsible for 10% of its total body weight.
- You can tell if a foal is healthy because it will be about 10% of the total weight of its mother.
- For a horse to be able to maintain a healthy body weight, it needs about 1-2% of its weight in feed every day. For a 3,000-pound horse, that would mean needing to eat up to 60 pounds of feed, even during periods of inactivity.
Why Is It So Important to Know the Average Weight of a Horse?
In horses, there are several potentially serious health conditions that are associated with obesity. There are also health concerns that occur if a horse is chronically underweight. In several recent surveys that were reported by thehorse.com, about half of all horses are considered to be overweight or obese, even though they are considered to be riding horses.
The most common reason for obesity is due to overfeeding. Some horses will eat way more than they should, but there is also a certain responsibility to the owners for limiting additional feed and ensuring horses like this get the exercise that they need.
If obesity is not addressed, a common condition called “laminitis” can occur in horses. This condition is an inflammation of blood vessels within the hoof. It is painful for the horse and can be life-threatening if it is left untreated. The tissues of the foot degrade and can cause the coffin bone to rotate downward in the foot, causing it to protrude through the sole of the hoof.
Insulin resistance is another common issue in horses that struggle with obesity. It is a condition that causes extreme changes in the blood glucose of the horse in a way that is similar to Type 2 Diabetes in humans. Frequent peaks of blood glucose in horses can lead to a greater risk of obesity, so a diet that is low in starches and sugars can help to reduce body weight, as can frequent exercise.
Maintaining high glucose concentrations can also damage blood vessels, the pancreas, and even lead to gangrene.
Lipomas, or fatty tumors that develop on horses that are elderly and obese, can result in colic because they often attach themselves to the mesentery of the intestines. Heat tolerance is also affected by obesity.
Being chronically underweight is also problematic for horses. Horses that are underweight are often under high levels of stress, either from activities, nutrition, or both. Parasites may also be responsible for a horse that is chronically underweight, which would cause a lack of nutrition being absorbed from the feed.
Horses that have poor dental health are also at-risk of being chronically underweight.
Being underweight can also lead to added risks of colic or choking. It may lead to ulcer development within the stomach, especially in older horses. The lack of nutrition may also weaken the immune system of the horse, which could lead to greater disease susceptibility from a long-term perspective.
How to Determine if You Have the Right Horse for Your Needs
Knowing the average weight of a horse can help you to know if the horse can meet your personal needs. Excluding ponies, pony-style adult horses, and miniature horses, this formula can help you to know if your horse is of the proper size.
- Add up the weight of the tack, rider, and horse. In this example, let’s say that the horse weighs 1,100 pounds, the rider weighs 150 pounds, and tack weighs 45 pounds. This gives us a total of 1,295 pounds.
- Measure the circumference of the cannon bone. You’ll want to take the measurement midway between the fetlock and the knee. In this example, let’s say that we get a measurement of 8.5 inches.
- Now divide the total weight by the circumference. This means we will need to divide 1,295 by 8.5. This will give us an answer of 152.35 rounded.
- Now we need to divide this result by two. If we divide 152.35 in half, we receive a rounded answer of 76.18.
In this formula, you will want to have a value answer fall between 75-80. If your value ends up being over 80, then it indicates that the horse has weaker legs and will struggle with slopes. If the value is between 70-75, then it means you have slightly more horse for your needs than is necessary, but it should still work out for you. Values below 70 can indicate that the horse is too big for your current needs.
How much does an average horse weigh? When all breeds are considered, the answer hovers around 1,100 pounds. When specific breeds are considered, however, the actual answer can vary greatly. By understanding what the horse needs to be healthy, including any specific nutritional medical needs, then you can work with your horse to make sure it maintains an optimal weight throughout its life.
If you have any questions about the weight of your horse and if any care adjustments may be necessary, it is a good idea to contact your local veterinarian for a consultation.