Knowing Your Horse’s Weight, by Kentucky Performance Products

Knowing your horse’s weight can have a number of advantages. From adjusting diet for optimal performance to ensuring safe dosing of medication, this is one of these facts about your horse you should know. Read on for more:

Photo courtesy of Kentucky Performance Products

You can take a look at your horse and have an idea whether they’re thin or fat or just about right, to your eye. But it’s important to know (and monitor) your horse’s weight more accurately than “eyeballing” it. Monitoring your horse’s weight regularly, such as every month, helps you

  • Adjust their diet for optimal health and performance.
  • Develop an appropriate exercise regimen.
  • Spot health problems that cause unexpected weight loss or gain.
  • Ensure safe and effective dosing of medication.

Your horse might put on weight easily and need low-calorie nutrition like Micro-Phase™.  Or they might tend to be thin and require a safe high-fat, high-fiber supplement like Equi-Jewel®.  Either way, it’s important to establish a baseline and keep an eye out for changes in order to provide them with the nutrients, energy sources, and exercise they need, especially as those needs change with age, season, performance demands, pregnancy, or other circumstances.

The foundation of any horse’s diet should be high-quality forage. To identify how much is appropriate, as well as additional nutrients they might need—such as natural vitamin E supplementation for growing horses, seniors, or horses with limited turnout on fresh, green grass—begin by finding out your horse’s weight.

Body condition scoring and weight tapes: easy but imprecise.

Body condition scoring systems and tools can help you evaluate the amount of fat on your horse’s body and determine his numerical score on a scale from emaciated to obese.

Do you know the ideal body condition score for your horse? On the commonly used Henneke Body Condition Scoring System, which rates horses from 1 (poor or emaciated) to 9 (obese), a score of 5 is generally considered good. But depending on a horse’s individual circumstances, a leaner or fatter condition might be preferable.

Learn how to evaluate your horse’s weight and download a body condition reference chart here.

Photo courtesy of Kentucky Performance Products

Many people use weight tapes to get an estimate for their horse’s weight, because they are convenient and easily available. Weight tapes, which look similar to measuring tapes, are easy to use:  simply wrap the tape around the horse’s heart girth (around the highest point of the withers and as close behind the elbows as possible) and read the number where the two ends of the tape meet. But weight tapes aren’t standardized, so you might get significantly different readings for the same horse, depending on which tape you use. Measurement instructions also can vary from tape to tape, with some requiring the tape to be placed just behind, rather than across, the withers, for example.

So while weight tapes can be useful in monitoring the overall trend of your horse’s weight, they are imprecise and often struggle with the great variety in equine body types. And even with careful, consistent use of the tape, a recent study in Scotland found that weight tapes tended to inaccurately report horses’ weights—sometimes missing the mark by as much as 200 pounds—and, on average, underestimated horses’ weight, especially for breeds that were larger or heavier.

Body condition scoring and weight tapes can provide a basic overview of a horse’s overall weight trend. But there are better ways to measure your horse’s weight more precisely:

Use a livestock scale.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a livestock scale, this horse-sized weighing machine can be a good way to determine your horse’s exact weight.

Use the formula method.

You can also get a good estimate of your horse’s weight with a measuring tape and a calculator.

Measure your horse’s heart girth in inches. Then measure, in inches, straight across your horse’s side, from the point of the shoulder to the end of the rump.

To determine an adult horse’s weight in pounds:

For a weanling, divide by 280 instead of 330. For a yearling, divide by 301 instead of 330.

Keep in mind that the formula isn’t necessarily one size fits all: body structures can differ widely across breeds, and it might be worth consulting your veterinarian or breed association about a breed-specific formula.

Whether your horse is a miniature or a shire, knowing their weight and monitoring it regularly will allow you to tailor their feed, exercise, and supplementation for their optimal health and performance.

About Kentucky Performance Products, LLC:Fight back against dangerous dehydration and electrolyte imbalances with Summer Games® Electrolyte.Summer Games is a unique blend of both electrolytes and trace minerals specifically formulated to replenish critical electrolytes in the proper ratios. Summer Games supports healthy electrolyte balance so horses stay hydrated, perform at optimal levels, and recover faster after exercise or in stressful situations.Summer Games contains a research-proven electrolyte formulation that was originally developed for the horses competing at the 1996 Olympics. Formulated using the results of extensive research studies investigating the composition of sweat, Summer Games contains both key electrolytes and trace minerals in the actual amounts that are present in the sweat.

  • Adjustable serving rates allow you to easily meet your horse’s individual electrolyte needs.
  • Affordable price allows you to consistently replenish key electrolytes in appropriate ratios.
  • Concentrated formula ensures your horse receives both critical electrolytes and trace minerals, not sugar and other fillers.
  • The unique ingredients in Summer Games support optimal performance and speedy recovery during exercise or stressful situations.

The horse that matters to you matters to us®.Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? Kentucky Performance Products, LLC is here to help. Call 859-873-2974 or visit