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Measuring horses <

From: Thomas

Dear Jessica:

I have recently moved to Ireland and am looking to buy a horse here (I usually have one wherever I'm living in the world). I read with interest your recent response to a large rider who was wondering about "bone". You said that instead of looking for a 16+hh horse he should be looking for one that has "weight carrying conformation", ie., 7 inches of bone per 1,000 lbs of weight, with a large barrel. My question is related to that, and I looked through the archives but couldn't find it listed.

Did you mean per 1,000lbs of the horse's own weight, or including the rider's? I weight about 205lbs and my legs aren't that long. If I understood you correctly, a better horse for me would be one that is about 15.2hh and has 8-8.5 inches of bone and a big barrel (maybe a cob or Irish Draught type). Am I reading you right? And that brings me to the next question--is there a formula for calculating the approximate weight of a horse? I heard that there's one that has something to do with measuring the height and girth of the horse.

Also, and this is probably a foolish question, but what is the actual inches:hands ratio? I always thought it was 4 inches, but now someone tells me it's 4.5 inches.

Thanks, and thanks for Horse-Sense.


Hi Thomas! The weight-to-bone ratio is the horse's OWN weight compared to the circumference of his cannon bone just below the knee. And yes, you would probably be quite happy with a horse of medium height and good bone. Living in Ireland, you're in a good position to find a cob or an Irish Draught cross. Sit on a lot of different horses, and be sure that the one you buy really does suit you physically -- and temperamentally, of course! ;-) The best way to ascertain a horse's precise weight is to use a walk-on scale of the type that can be found at a veterinary clinic or hospital. But as that's not a convenient option for most of us, there are alternative ways of estimating a horse's weight. This formula is very accurate, if you are careful to measure correctly.

weight in pounds = [heart girth (inches) squared x length (inches)] divided by 330
weight in kilos = [heart girth (centimeters) squared x length (centimeters) divided by 11,880

Before you ask, here's how to take those initial measurements!

Take the "heart girth" measurement just behind the horse's withers and elbows, at the moment just after the horse exhales. p Take the "length" measurement from the anterior point of the shoulders to the posterior point of the buttocks.

As for the height measurement -- a hand is four inches exactly, always has been, and always will be. The person who told you it was 4.5 inches was either sadly mistaken or pulling your leg. ;-)


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