How to Measure a Horse

Children and two horses on large grass field.
Children and two horses on large grass field. (Image: Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

If a horse person says, "My horse is 16.2," a nonhorse person might have no clue what he means. He's actually saying, "My horse stands 66 inches high at the shoulder, or 5 feet 6 inches tall." That's because horses are measured in hands, with each hand equaling 4 inches. Fractions of hands are noted as .1, .2 or .3. Of course, you don't measure a horse literally with your hands. The most common ways of measuring a horse is with a measuring stick or tape.

Measuring a Horse

When measuring your horse, you can use either a special tape or stick delineated in hands, or a conventional measuring device. If you're using the latter, convert the number of inches into hands by dividing by 4. Place your horse on an even surface for measuring. You'll measure him from the ground to the top of his withers -- the highest point of his shoulders -- usually coinciding with the last hairs of the mane. For accuracy's sake, take several measurements of the horse to ensure you're coming up with a consistent size.

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