How Tall Is A Horse? (Full Guide Including A Breed Height Table)

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Different horse breeds stand at different heights, and to find out how tall is a horse, one must consider several factors. Horses are measured by “hands,” and, in general, the average horse height is 15.2 hands.

But what is a hand? And how can you measure how tall your horse is? 

There are several hundreds of breeds of horses, and each of these horse types is bred for specific physiology and size to be able to do a particular type of work. Each of these horse breeds grows to a different size. Some are so small that they can fit on your couch, and some are so tall that you would need to climb a ladder to touch their ears. 

Here’s some information on the height of some well-known horse breeds of horses, and how you can measure the height of your horse.

How Are Horses Measured?

The height of a horse is measured in hands (hh). A hand is four inches.

1hh = 4 inches

So, a horse that measures 16 hands is 64 inches tall (16 x 4 = 64), and a horse that measures 17 hands is 68 inches tall (17 x 4 = 68). 

The hand is used as the unit of measurement in Canada, the United States, and in England. In other regions across the world, the metric system is used to record a horse’s height.

A Tall Brown Horse

The Height Of A Horse Depends On Its Breed

Ponies, for example, are categorized by their height as small, medium, and large. Small ponies are those that are less than 12.2 hands in height, while medium ponies range from 12.3 hands to 13.2 hands tall, and large ponies range from 13.3 hands to 14.2 hands tall. The average height of a Miniature horse is 38 inches. 

Smaller and average horse breeds include the quarter horse that has an average of 59.3 inches, the Morgan that averages 69 inches, and the Arabian horse that averages 59.7 inches.

Taller breeds, like the standardbred, that is used for harness racing averages a whopping 63 inches.

Warmblood breeds like sport horses bred for competition purses and used in show jumping and eventing like the Danish warmblood and Holsteiner can be as tall as 66 to 68 inches. The Oldenburg can be anywhere as tall as 64 to 70 inches tall.

Draft breeds or draft horses that are true workhorses in every sense grow exceptionally tall. For example, a full-grown Belgian averages 16 hands. The Percheron is taller and averages 16.2 hands when it is fully grown. The Shire is the tallest draft breed and averages 17 hands, with several of them nearly reaching 18 hands. 

Click here to find out the 9 biggest horse breeds in the world.

Horse Height Table Of Some Different Types Of Well-Known Horse Breeds From Around The World

NameOriginClassificationHeight
American Quarter HorseUnited StatesLight15.2 to 16.1 hh
American SaddlebredUnited StatesLight15 hands (hh) to 16 hh
American StandardbredUnited StatesLight14 hands (hh) to 16 hh
AppaloosaSpain, United StatesLight14 to 15.3 hh
ArabianArabiaLight14 to 15 hh
BelgianBelgiumDraftUp to 17 hh
ClydesdaleScotlandDraft17 to 18 hh
ConnemaraIrelandPony13 to 14.2 hh
Dutch WarmbloodHollandWarmblood16 hh
HackneyEnglandLight14.2 to 16 hh
Welsh PonyWalesPony12.2 hh
Paint HorseUnited StatesLight15 to 16 hh
ThoroughbredEnglandLight14.2 to 17 hh

What Was The Largest Horse Ever?

The tallest horse ever was Sampson, a Shire horse who was born in 1846, in Bedfordshire, England. He was the heaviest and the tallest horse to be ever recorded. By the time he was four years old, he was 2.134 meters high and was, therefore, renamed “Mammoth.” 

In 2010, Big Jake – a Belgian Gelding horse, became the tallest horse living. He measured 20 hands 2.75 inches at the time.

How To Measure Your Horse?

A horse is always measured from the ground to its withers – and not from the top of its head. The height is measured from the ground to the highest point on the withers (the ridge between the shoulder blades). 

How To Measure Your Horse

A horse measuring stick is the quickest and most straightforward way to measure the height of your horse, although you can use a measuring tape as well.

  • Start by getting your horse to stand on a firm and level area of ground. This is important to ensure the horse’s body is level. 
  • Ensure the horse’s feet are positioned squarely – the hooves must be next to each other, hip-width apart. If one foot is in front of the other, it could throw off the measurement.
  • Start by placing the measuring stick at the base of one of its front hooves. If you are using a measuring tape, start the same way and pull it up to the highest point on the withers. 
  • The withers height is at the center of the horse’s body. You can use a stick that spans from the top of the withers to the measuring tape to find the exact height. Most measuring sticks come with an attachment that sticks out so you can get a level measurement from the withers.

Converting Measurements

1 hh – 4 inches (10.2 cm).

If you are using a tape measure that is in inches, and you want to know what your horse measures in hands (hh), divide the measurement recorded by 4. So, if, for example, your horse measured 68 inches, divide 68 by 4. The result is 17 hh. 

If your horse measured 71 inches, then your horse is 17 hh and 3 inches, or 17.3 hh.

How To Estimate A Young Horse’s Mature Height

If you have a young horse, you can determine its mature height. Measure the length of the leg from its knee to the ground, divided by 90 x 100 x 4. That will give you an estimate of its mature height. 

Also, a horse is 61% of its mature size at birth, 84% of its mature size at six months, 92% of its adult size at 12 months, and 95% of its mature size at 18 months of age.

Conclusion

The answer to this question can only be answered by measuring a horse. While the average horse height is 15.2 hh, the height of a horse will depend on its breed and the type of horse it is. There are exact methods to measure the height of a horse, and by using these methods, you can measure how tall a particular horse is.

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