How to Measure the Height of a Horse or a Pony

woman measuring horse height

You need a special tool to measure the horse’s height. This can be a horse measuring stick or a measuring tape. Such devices can be used to measure both horses and ponies. The horse’s height is determined from the ground to the horse’s withers. Read this article to find how to get an accurate measurement of a horse’s height.

How a Horse’s Height Is Measured

In English-speaking countries, a pony and horse’s height is measured in hands. While other countries use centimeters. Originally, the horse’s height was measured width a person’s hand, which is about four inches.

A measuring unit called a “hand” is used instead of inches. One hand is equal to four inches. For example, a horse that is 14 hands tall has a height of 56 inches. It can also be recorded as 14 hh (hands high).

When the horse’s height is not divisible by four, a decimal point is used. The horse’s height of 58 inches is equal to 14 1/2 hands. Half of a hand is two inches so the height should be written as 14.2 hh (hands high). The height of 57 inches is equal to 14.1 hh. And 62 inches are equal to fifteen hands and so on. The number that goes after the period is the remaining inches.

man measuring horse height

How to Measure a Horse's Height Properly

1. The Right Position

The correct way to measure the equine’s height is the following. Make your horse stand square on a flat surface. It should be a level ground to get a precise height measurement. For instance, the concrete area outside the barn. The legs should be immobile. The front feet are lined up with the hind feet. Such a position ensures the horse stands at its full height.

2. Ask for a Help

Perhaps you’ll need a helping hand to hold the horse’s lead rope. If you concern your horse or pony might be scared of a new tool, someone should hold your equine. Treat your buddy with its fave yummies to distract it while the horse’s height measuring.

3. Measure Your Horse

Grab a height tape measure or a horse stick to take measurements. Stand beside the horse near the withers. Place the tape measure or a stick perpendicular to the ground.

1. Measuring Stick

In case you use a measuring stick, place the horizontal bar above the shoulders. The vertical bar touches the ground. Start lowering the bar till it touches the horse’s withers. Check if it’s nice and straight. The horse’s height is determined by the number where the vertical and horizontal bars meet up.

The height is measured from the ground to the top of the withers as it’s the highest point of a horse. The horse’s head always moves up and down. So it would be difficult to measure a horse from that point. The wither’s level is the best option to get precise height measurements.

Miniature Horse Measuring Stick

Best Horse Measuring Stick - Tough 1 Aluminum Measuring Stick

The Tough 1 measuring stick is designed for mini horses and ponies. The height measurements go from 14 to 39 inches. The measuring stick comes with a plastic case for convenient storage.

2. Horse and Pony Height Tape

It’s a special tool designed to measure a horse’s height and weight. It is usually a soft tape made of nylon. One side of the tape measures the height. While another side works as a horse weight tape. The position to take measurements is the same as described above. This tool also works for mini horses, ponies, donkeys, and more.

Horse & Pony Height & Weight Tape

Best Horse Height Tape - Tough 1 Horse and Pony Measure Tape

The Tough 1 Horse and Pony Measure Tape is versatile. You can measure horse height and weight with such a tool. The tape is friendly to ponies too. The height is measured in hands and centimeters. The weight is measured in pounds and kilograms. 

3. Standard Measuring Tape

You can use a regular measuring tape that can be found in any convenience store. It’s a budget-friendly option that is great for horses and ponies. Use the same standing position and angle while measuring your equine.

standard measuring tape

Best Measuring Tape - Zabiki Measuring Tape Measure

The Zabiki Measuring Tape Measure is suitable for big horses. The measure tape goes up to 25 feet that is more than enough. The Zabiki tape comes with feet and inch metrics. The case is made of rubberized material that provides a solid grip.

Horse Height Measuring Tools

There are three options you can opt from to take a horse measurement:

  • Measuring horse stick: easy to use and precise measurements. It needs some space to be stored.
  • Horse and pony height tape: budget-friendly and can be used as a horse weight tape. Setting the ideal vertical position is not as easy as with the stick.
  • Standard measuring tape: there’s no need to buy extra tools. But it’s not the best option for equines that are easily spooked.
height and weight measuring tape

It’s up to you what tool to pick to get the final height of your horse. Taking measurements is important to get if your equine refers to the horse or pony. Plus, you can determine if you get an average or a tall horse. And how much weight it can carry to feel comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions

horse standing in shade

Why Is a Horse’s Height Measured in Hands?

People used to measure the horse’s height with their hands. It was a popular method applied to all livestock and equines. The width of the hand was around four inches. So people could measure the height in the same way. Farmers and breeders used this method until a traditional measurement system was created. Of course, the results were not accurate.

When Do Horses Reach Their Full Height?

The height is usually measured when the equine is fully grown. This is done to get if the animal belongs to a horse or a pony. Most horse breeds reach their maturity at the age of four to five. Draft horses may grow up until the age of eight.

What Is the Average Height for a Horse?

An average horse is 15.2 hands tall at the withers. The minimum height of a horse can be 14.2 hands tall. Draft horses may reach the height of 18 inches.

What Is the Average Height for a Pony?

An average pony is 14.2 hands tall at the withers. It’s the maximum height of ponies. Taller equines are referred to as horses.

brown horse looking forward

The Final Word

The horse height is measured from the bottom of the hoof to the withers. This can be done by using a measuring tape or a horse stick. Measuring the horse’s height is easy and requires little effort. All you need to do is to stand beside the equine and set the tool vertically.

The horse’s height is usually measured in hands. If your tool doesn’t come with such a unit, no worries. Note down your result in inches or centimeters. And then convert it into hands. You can do it on your own or by using an online calculator.

Image Source: shutterstock.com, foreverhorses.blogspot.com, thehorse.com.

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David Garcia

David Garcia

David Garcia is a vivid writer and a big fan of equestrian sports. He founded Horsezz – the blog where David shares his knowledge and experience about horses, tack, equestrian riding equipment, taking care of horses, and other useful guidelines.