How to Weigh a Horse
The most accurate method for estimating a horse’s weight using a weight tape is the formula method, which requires two measurements be made in inches. When a weight scale is not available or practical, the formula method is the method of choice.
1. Measure heart girth and body length as indicated below.
2. Estimate the horse’s bodyweight using the appropriate weight formula as indicated below.
3. To monitor progress over time, measure the horse at the same time of day for greater accuracy, ideally in the morning before feeding.
Measuring the Horse
- Measure around the horse’s girth by placing tape across the highest part of the withers and keeping the tape as close behind the elbows as possible. Measure in inches.
- Use two people to measure from the point of the shoulder, straight back along the horse’s side to the point of the buttock or crease as shown. Measure in inches.
Equine WEIGHT Formulas (1) (Measurements in Inches)
- Adult Horse: (Heart Girth x Heart Girth x Body Length) ÷ 330 = Bodyweight in pounds
- Yearling: (Heart Girth x Heart Girth x Body Length) ÷ 301 = Bodyweight in pounds
- Weanling: (Heart Girth x Heart Girth x Body Length) ÷ 280 = Bodyweight in pounds
Weight Management Tips
- Proper nutrition and weight management should be part of a horse’s total health care program, including vaccinations, deworming, dental care and exercise.
- Slow and steady is the correct approach for reducing bodyweight and will help avoid stress and digestive upsets.
- Increase exercise levels gradually as the overweight horse becomes more fit.
- Feed the overweight horse apart from other horses to better control and monitor feed intake levels.
- Fresh, clean water should be available at all times. Horses should be cooled out properly, including rehydration before feeding or providing free access to water.
- Monitor the horse’s progress closely. Measure/weigh the horse weekly and record its weight for future reference and more accurate tracking.
- Be sure not to exceed or drop below the recommended feeding rate range as indicated for the particular feed and horse.
(1) Carroll, C.L. and P.J. Huntington. 1988. Equine Veterinary Journal. 20 (1), 41-45. Wilson, K.R., P.G. Gibbs, G.D. Potter, E.M. Michael and B.D. Scott 2003 Proc. 18th Equine Nutrition and Physiology Society Symposium. P.238-242.