FAQ Horse Care Other Tips

How much does a horse weigh? (Fun facts, calculator, FAQs)

how-much-do-horses-weigh
Written by Horse Rookie

Understanding average horse weight and why it matters

Weight may be a taboo topic among humans, but understanding how weight impacts our equine partners is critical to keeping them healthy. (If you prefer your horses on the “substantial” side, check out these 6 tall horse breeds.)

An average horse weighs 900-2,000 pounds, depending on size and breed. A lean, racing fit Thoroughbred, for example, has an average weight of 900-1,100 pounds, while the average Clydesdale (think Budweiser) weighs in at 1,800-2,000 pounds. Ponies, on the other hand, usually range from 200 pounds for a Shetland pony to 1,400 pounds for a bigger pony like a Haflinger.

Want to estimate your adult horse’s weight in a few minutes? Skip down to our free horse weight calculator.

Concerned about horse health? Learn about How Horses Sleep in our A to Zzzz Guide to Equine Rest.

Heavy vs. light horses

In general, a horse breed falls into one of two main categories, heavy and light.

Some horses are categorized as draft horse breeds like the Clydesdales, Percherons, Belgians and Shires. These heavy horses are the ones that pulled the plows and wagons for farmers before the advent of the tractor. These horses are built for work with short backs and powerful hindquarters, these breeds tend to run between 1,700 to 2,000+ lbs.

Light horses, on the other hand, range anywhere from 900 to 1,500 pounds, depending on the breed and size. These are the larger horses most often used for riding, racing, driving, herding cattle, etc. On the lighter end of this group are the Arabians who range from 900 to 1,100 pounds, while the average warmblood will weigh in the neighborhood of 1,200 to 1,300 pounds.

Horse Weight World Records Infographic

Horse Weight World Records

You’re welcome to use this infographic on your own website *as long as you link back to horse-rookie.local.* Feel free to share on Pinterest, as well by hovering over it and clicking the Pinterest icon. #knowledgeishorsepower

How much does a horse weigh at birth?

Believe it or not, no matter the breed, all foals weigh about 10% of their mothers weight at birth. So, a mare weighing 2,000 pounds will have a foal that weighs about 200 pounds at birth. A small horse or pony, weighing closer to 900 pounds, will have a baby that weighs about 90 pounds.

Horses grow quickly and usually reach about 90% of their full adult height by two years old.

The remaining 10% goes a little slower. A horse will continue to grow and fill out for about the next two years of its life reaching their adult height by about four.

how-much-horses-weigh-birth

A baby horse weighs ~10% of its mother’s weight at birth.

When raising foals it is important to tailor the feeding program to the breed. Feeding too slowly or not enough can result in stunted growth while feeding too much and too quickly puts the horse at risk for a host of developmental orthopedic diseases (DOD).

Doing the math is also a big part of calculating Horse Trailer Weight and your rig equation.

How are horses weighed?

There are four ways to weigh a horse:

1) A livestock scale give you the best and least arbitrary measure. You may have seen something similar in your small animal vet’s office and this is the same idea, only larger.

2) Weight tapes are similar to those used by a tailor. The horse weight tape is wrapped around the barrel to get an approximate measure. The size of the barrel (i.e. girth area) translates to their weight.

    • Weight tapes are best for “average” size horses and may not be as accurate for smaller, larger, and growing horses.
    • You can grab inexpensive weight tape on Amazon here.
horse-weight-tape

Weight tape is a common way to estimate horse weight.

3) Online Calculators use a formula to estimate your horse’s body weight. Just remember that the results are the estimated weight, not “down to the pound,” like you could get with a scale. 

Try our horse weight calculator below!

Horse Weight Calculator
 

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4) Eyeballing is the most arbitrary measure for horse weight. Even the most experienced owners and veterinarians can be off by as much as 200 pounds.

Why should we know a horse’s weight?

Aside from just general interest, there are a few good reasons why it’s good idea to know your horse’s weight.

Knowing how much your horse weighs helps you understand how much he should be eating.

horse-weight

Understanding horse weight is a prerequisite to feeding strategies.

Each horse is different so knowing their weight along with the lifestyle they lead can help you determine how much should they eat. (See Purina’s horse feeding calculator.)

  • The ‘average’ mature horse needs about 15 to 20 pounds of hay per day.
  • Horses consume about 2.5% of their bodyweight per day.
  • Don’t forget to hydrate! A horse needs between 5 to 15 gallons or more of clean water a day depending on temperature and activity level.

Knowing and understanding your horse’s weight helps you monitor and understand seasonal changes.

  • Horses tend to lose weight in the winter when forage is less readily available and as their caloric needs go up.
  • Horses will need extra calories to stay warm through those cold winter months and those calories will optimally come from good quality hay.
  • It’s also important to monitor summertime eating as well as horses can easily put on extra fat as access to grass goes up.
  • Horses will forage or munch on grass and hay up to 18 hours a day.

Knowing your horse’s weight helps flag possible health problems and determine medication dosing.

  • Mis-dosing medication can have very bad consequences. It is important to know your horse’s weight before administering potent medications.
  • Remember, even the best ‘guessers’ can be off by as much as 200 pounds.

Knowing your horses weight helps know how much weight he can safely carry or pull.

  • The average horse can safely carry about 15 to 20 percent of its body weight (e.g. 1,000-pound horse can carry about a 200 pound rider).
  • Asking a horse to carry too much weight for its size puts it at increased risk for soreness and lameness issues.

Remember, weight is not the only measure of a horse’s health and condition.

When evaluating a horse’s weight and general health, look at the following:

  • Spine: You should not see his spine. If a horse is too thin, you will see a ridge down his back.
  • Ribs: You should be able feel, but not see, a horse’s ribs.
  • Tailhead/Croup: The tailhead should not be visible. If it is, the horse may be too thin.
  • Withers: Withers will be easily visible on a horse that’s too thin.
  • Neck: The horse’s neck bone structure should not be visible. If it is, the horse may be too thin.

For more on body condition score, check out our article about helping horses in need.

horse rookie guide to jumping

Weight and confirmation

Both confirmation and conditioning play an important role in the success that an equine athlete has in performing his job.

horse-weight-confirmation

Maintaining an ideal weight is key for long-term health.

Confirmation relates to how well the horse is put together compared to the optimal examples of the breed (e.g. slope of shoulder, shape of leg, and length of back).

Horses that are born with structural flaws will have a harder time doing their jobs.

Similarly, horses that are under or overweight will also have difficulties. It is important to keep them healthy and pay attention to their weight and condition.

Did you know:

  • The average horse carries approximately 64 percent of its weight on its front legs and the remainder in the back. Doing the math, a 1,000 a horse carries about 600 pounds on his front legs alone.
  • Horse legs are marvels made up of bones, muscles tendons joints and ligaments that support the horse in multitude of athletic activities. Legs are some of their most important body parts, so keeping them safe and healthy is extremely important for their wellbeing.
  • Even a small injury to a horse’s leg can be quite serious and even fatal.

Horse Weight Infographic

You’re welcome to use this infographic on your own website *as long as you link back to horse-rookie.local.*

Feel free to share on Pinterest, as well by hovering over it and clicking the Pinterest icon. #knowledgeishorsepower

Horse Weight Calculator Infographic

How to estimate horse weight without a scale

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much does an average horse weigh?

An average horse weighs 900-2,000 pounds.

Q: How much should my horse weigh?

Every horse is different, so start by chatting with your veterinarian.

He or she can help determine your horse’s ideal weight range — and come up with an action plan to help you reach it. 

horse rookie guide to jumping

Q: How much does a quarter horse weigh?

1,000 – 1,300 pounds

Learn more about the American Quarter Horse in our article about the best horse breeds for beginners.

Q: How much does a race horse weigh?

900 to 1,100 pounds

Q: How much does a pony weigh?

200 to 1,400 pounds

Q: How much does a horse head weigh?

10% of the total horses body weight

Q: How much does a baby horse weigh?

Depending on breed anywhere from 90 to 200+ pounds

horse rookie guide to jumping

Q: How much does a Shetland pony weigh?

298 to 595 pounds

Q: How much does a miniature horse weigh?

150 to 300 pounds

Q: How much does a thoroughbred horse weigh?

1,003 to 1,301 pounds

Q: How much does an arabian horse weigh?

800 to 1,000 pounds

Q: How much does a horse weigh in pounds?

An average horse weighs 900-2,000 pounds

horse rookie guide to jumping

Q: How much does a horse weigh in tons?

Depending on breed, between just under ½ ton to a ton or more

Q: How much does a Clydesdale horse weigh?

1,598 to 1,797 pounds

Q: Where can I find a horse weight calculator?

Click here to use a horse weight calculator.

Q: What should I feed my horse?

That’s a complicated question! Check out our blog called Food or Foe: What Do Horses Eat?

Q: How much does a horse trailer weigh?

Depending on the size and type a horse trailer typically weigh between 2,400 pounds up to about 8,400 pounds. We have an entire blog about horse trailer weight here, so trot on over.

horse rookie guide to jumping

Reaching That Goal Weight

Horses don’t always make it easy for us to help keep them healthy. Some would never stop eating, if they had their way. Others are picky, hard keepers who have you scratching your head at every weather change.

But, one thing remains true for all horses — maintaining a healthy girth (pun intended) takes work. As their caretakers, it’s our duty to be “weight watchers!”

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About the author

Horse Rookie

I began riding horses at age six, and I'm just as infatuated (OK, more!) with the sport decades later. My AQHA gelding exemplifies the versatility of the breed -- reined cow horse, reining, roping, ranch riding, trail, dressage, and jumping. We're also dipping our toes (hooves) into Working Equitation!