Note: Links with green underlines are shopping links and will open in a new window
How To Measure Horse Height
It's easy to measure you horse's height accurately.
To determine how tall a horse is measure the horse, in inches, from the ground in a straight line up to the highest point of the withers. This is illustrated in the photo below by the yellow line.
Above: The height of a horse is properly measured, in inches, from the ground to the highest point of the withers.
For the most accurate measurement the horse should be on firm, level ground with its front feet even, or close to even.
Calculating The Results
After you have measured your horse you will need to convert the results from inches to "hands." Horse height is correctly referred to by a unit of measurement known as a "hand." One hand is equal to four inches.
The gray mare in the photo above is 58 inches from the ground to the top of her withers. When 58 is divided by 4, you have 14.5. The 14 is the number of hands, and the .5 means another half of a hand, or another 2 inches. This means she is 14 and one-half hands tall.
Correctly Writing And Speaking The Results
The correct way of writing "14 and one-half hands" is to write "14.2". It is not correct to write it as "14.5". When correctly written, the number before the period is the number of hands, and the number after the period is the remaining number of inches. The number after the period should NOT stand for a fraction. Horseman usually say a measurement like this one out loud as "fourteen two" or "fourteen and a half."
A Few Examples
Below are a few examples of how to correctly write down a horse's height. Remember, the number in front of the period is for hands and the number after the period is the remaining inches.
- 15 - This is a correct way of writing that a horse is 15 hands tall
- 15.0 - Another correct way of writing that a horse is 15 hands tall
- 15.1 - This is the correct way of writing that a horse is 15 hands, 1 inch tall
- 15.2 - This is the correct way of writing that a horse is 15 hands, 2 inches tall
- 15.3 - This is the correct way of writing that a horse is 15 hands, 3 inches tall
- 15.4 - Wrong! This means that a horse is 15 hands, 4 inches tall. Since a hand is equal to four inches, this horse is actually 16 hands tall.
- 15.5 - Wrong again! Some people incorrectly use the number after the period to stand for fractions of a hand, but it should stand for inches. So, some people write "15.5" to mean 15 and a half hands, but this should correctly be written as "15.2".
If you like, you can add "hh" to a measurement, as in "15.1hh". The "hh" stands for "hands high."
Horse Measuring Devices
There are measuring devices on the market for horses that have hand and inches measurements marked on them. Some devices are rigid poles with short cross bars toward the top that can be raised or lowered to rest on a horse's withers. These are very handy and give accurate measurements easily.
Another common device is a horse height/weight tape, which is a special tape measure with hands and inches marked on it. These are inexpensive and are accurate if the person doing the measuring makes sure to run the tape straight up and down, and to read the measurement at a level angle.
Where Did "Hands" Come From?
As stated above, a horse's height is measured in hands. The origin of measuring a horse this way is very old, but easy to understand. In days long ago people did not have the common measuring devices (like tape measures, etc.) that we do today. To measure a horse, they used what was handy (no pun intended): Their hands. At various times in history and in different locales a "hand" was defined as the with of a person's hand using the fingers only, the width of a person's hand using the fingers and the thumb, the height of a clenched fist, and possibly others. Somewhere along the way, the measuring unit of a hand was standardized to mean four inches. Though the origins are ancient, a hand is still the unit of measurement for horses that modern horse owners use today.
- Attach A Leather Rope Strap
- Bridle A Horse
- Buy Cowboy Stuff On eBay
- Care For A Silk Wild Rag
- Care For Your Felt Cowboy Hat
- Care For Your Saddle Pad Or Blanket
- Close A Gate With A Chain Latch
- Estimate Cattle Age By Their Teeth
- Estimate A Horse's Weight
- Estimate Western Cinch Size
- Fishtail Braid Your Horse's Tail
- Flatten Cow Horn
- Hydro Dip A Cow Skull
- Make A Collapsible Wood Saddle Rack
- Make A Flag Boot Out Of A Horn
- Make Homemade Hoof Conditioner
- Make Homemade Horse Fly Spray
- Measure A Horse's Girth
- Measure A Horse's Height
- Measure A Western Saddle Seat
- Put A Horn Knot On Your Rope
- Put A Speed Burner On A Honda
- Recognize Common Horse Colors
- Recognize Common Horse Face Markings
- Saddle A Horse
- Stop A Saddle From Squeaking
- Take Horse Pictures
- Tell A Boy Cow From A Girl Cow
- Tie A Honda
- Tie A Horse
- Tie A Quick Release Knot
- Tie A Stopper Knot
Tie a stopper knot for the end of a rope,
or a metal, rawhide, or plastic honda
- Tie A Stopper Knot For A Honda
Tie a stopper knot for a tied honda
- Tie A Wild Rag Knot
- Trim A Bridle Path
- Turn Blevins Buckles Over
- Turn Western Stirrups
- Understand Leather / Hide Thickness
- Weigh A Horse and Optimize Rider Weight
- Whiten Bone
- Wrap A Saddle Horn With Rubber
What Is / Are...
- What Are 5 Reasons Horse Trailer Lighting Matters?
- What Are Chestnuts and Ergots?
- What Are Cowboy Chinks?
- What Are Horns?
- What Are Horse Blood Marks?
- What Are Horse Vaccines and How Do They Work?
- What Are Horse Whiskers?
- What Are Leads?
- What Are Saddle Rigging Positions?
- What Are Some Interesting Horse Facts?
- What Are Some Interesting Charts and Graphs With Horse Information?
- What Are Some Options For Temporary Horse Fencing?
- What Are Slobber Straps?
- What Are Synthetic Saddles Made Of?
- What Are Wolf Teeth?
- What Is The Angle System For Branding?
- What Is A Bosal?
- What Is A Bull Riding Vest Made Of?
- What Is A Domain Name?
Why would I need one for my farm or ranch even if I don't have or want a website?
- What Is A Fifth Wheel Trailer Hitch?
- What Is Flag and National Anthem Etiquette At A Rodeo?
- What Is Floating A Horse's Teeth?
- What Is Freeze Branding?
- What Is Freeze Branding......What Do Horse Freeze Brands Look Like?
- What Is A Galvayne's Groove?
- What Is A Gooseneck Trailer Hitch?
- What Is A Headstall?
- What Is A Pony Express Mochila?
- What Is Hermann Oak Leather?
- What Is Larvicidal De-Worming?
- What Is The Mark Out Rule?
- What Is A Nord Fork?
- What Is The Rodeo Return Gate?
- What Is Rotational Grazing?
- Horse Tips
Short tips to help horse owners and anyone who lives or loves a Western lifestyle do something faster, easier, or better.
Link To This Page
If you found this page useful or interesting and would like to link to it from your own website or blog, you can use the small code snippet below to make a link. Thanks!
Use ctrl+C in Windows or command+C on a Mac to copy the link.
Below: Like and share this page on Facebook!