Caring for horses requires extensive insight into every aspect of their lives. Without an adequate understanding of important matters such as the appropriate average horse weight, you might not give the best care your horses deserve.
Understanding factors such as the average weight range for each particular horse and breed can help you know if your horse’s weight is within the healthy weight range.
How to Weigh a Horse
When it comes to determining how much a horse weighs, it is a matter of different strokes for different folks. Depending on what type of equipment you have access to, two traditional methods are used that have brought reliable results over the years. Those methods are the weight tape and the livestock scale.
A weight tape is one of the most commonly used methods for weighing a horse. This specialised tape is quite affordable, but if you can’t get one, you can use a different method by opting for a measuring tape. The latter requires measuring things such as heart girth and body length, but due to the math required for this option, there might be errors in the calculations.
However, using horse-weighing tape is straightforward. All you have to do is run the tape from the withers down underneath just a couple of centimetres away from the front feet, on the belly side. You can repeat this process three to four times and calculate the average to get a more accurate reading.
It is important to remember that a weight tape is a realtive measurement. You should use it on your horse regularly to see how it’s weight is fluctuating. It is not 100% accurate for deciding feed or medicine amounts. For this, it is better to use a scale
The simpler method is using a weight scale or weighbridge to get an accurate read of your horse’s weight. If you have access to a livestock scale, the process is as simple as getting your horse on the scale without any extra equipment, such as a saddle.
Factors Affecting a Horse’s Weight
Each horse might be in a different weight bracket than the other, but one of the most common factors that weigh in on this matter is the horse’s breed type. Different breeds are bred for specific purposes, and horses bred for industrial or farming purposes are bound to weigh more. These variations can be seen in working horses to race horses, as each has to get conditioned according to its purpose.
Height also plays a crucial role in determining the appropriate weight for a horse. In rare instances, the horse’s health could also cause a weight variation. Another factor that causes relative weight variations is the level of activity a horse gets. The more exercise a horse gets, the more the weight will be commensurate with height, age, and breed type.
Horse Breeds and Weight Variations
With each type of breed, there are variations in body length, height, and ultimately body weight. That simply means with each horse breed, the average weight differs, and this makes sense since ponies can expectedly weigh significantly less than draft horses. Although we won’t list all horse breeds, we have handpicked a few to illustrate these differences in horse breed average weight expectations.
The Clydesdale horse (which we’ve had the personal pleasure of raising) tips the scales toward being one of the heaviest breeds with a healthy weight that ranges between 750 kg to 1000 kg. This horse’s heart girth is bigger than smaller breeds, which makes a bit of a difference on the scales. Stallions tend to weigh more than mares, however, a pregnant mother’s weight can equal that of a stallion.
The Thoroughbred breed is bred for speed in horse racing competitions, and that’s why it often gets conditioned very well to average around 450 kg in weight. As you might imagine, maintaining the perfect weight for racehorses is of the utmost importance to gain a competitive advantage. And, if you own one of these stallions, it is best to use up all the energy it generates from grazing and feeding.
An Arabian horse is a fine equine that is a symbol of luxury. Arabian horses tend to weigh an average of 450kg, which is considered a median weight for horses. These horses stand anywhere between 1,4m to 1,6m.
Haflinger Miniature horses
Among smaller horse breeds, the Haflinger Miniature is considered one of the best. An adult horse of this breed weighs just above 300 kg. Its body length is much smaller, which explains the horse’s weight range. Although the Haflinger is smaller in size and weight, it can still get used for horse riding for both children and some adults.
How to Manage a Horse’s Weight
So, how much does a horse weigh? The answer all depends on a variety of factors (mentioned above) relating to the breed’s purpose, size, and other pertinent factors. But how can you manage a horse’s weight? First of all, monitoring its development and size is important. Otherwise, you might notice signs of either malnutrition or obesity.
To ensure that a horse stays within a good weight range, you can:
- Make hay accessible at the stable at all times
- Allow for outdoor grazing time
- Determine if supplements are needed (especially for working horses)
- Initiate exercise to use up any idle energy
Health Complications Amongst Overweight Horses
An overweight horse bears more health risks than the average weighted horse. As you might imagine, the horse will be lethargic and find it hard to perform daily tasks due to the additional body weight it shouldn’t have. In addition to that, an overweight horse might suffer from:
- Joint and bone problems
- Lung and heart distress
- Reduced reproductive efficiency
Managing a horse’s weight to be within the average weight range for that particular breed and size is key to good health and overall well-being. However, if your horses get enough physical activity, get their needed supplements, and have good grazing fields or bales, they are unlikely to get overweight.
How heavy is the heaviest horse?
The heaviest horse breed is the Shire, which can weigh up to more than a tonne. The heaviest horse ever recorded in history reached a peak weight of more than 1,500kg and was the Shire breed. This horse breed is a draft horse and was bred for industrial purposes back in the day to do work that light horses couldn’t do.
How much can a horse pull?
Horse weight dictates how much weight it can pull. Typically a horse can pull a tenth of its weight if it is not on wheels. That is why an underweight horse can’t perform as well as one with a healthy weight. When the weight gets loaded on a carriage, the horse’s pulling capacity is double or triple its body weight.
What is the strongest horse?
Belgian Draft horses have been hailed as one of the strongest horse breeds in the world. Any draft horse, such as a Shire and a Clydesdale, has enormous pulling strength because these horses weigh quite a lot. In this bracket, an average horse weighs close to a tonne, if not a bit more than that.
How fast can a horse run?
The fastest recorded sprint record for a horse is about 88km/h, but this requires much conditioning when it comes to weight management, as having sufficient energy is also paramount. This has to be done in line with Body Condition Scoring (BCS) standards, which most competitions enforce for all entrants.