There is a growing problem in the U.S. of overweight and obese horses. Determining a horse’s body weight is important for weight and health management; however, few owners have access to a livestock scale. Equations exist that utilize horse height and body length and allow horse owners to predict horse body weight in the absence of a scale.
Recently, new equations were developed that improved upon the existing equations by adding breed type and neck and girth circumference in addition to height and body length for ponies, Arabians, stock‐type horses, draft horses and warmbloods.
Body measurements were taken on 629 adult horses and ponies at two horse shows in St. Paul, MN, the WSCA Champ Show and State 4‐H Horse Show. In 2014, the same measurements were taken on 227 adult draft and warmblood horses at the Scott County Fair Draft Horse Show (Jordan, MN), and the Fall Harvest Horse Show (St. Paul, MN). At all shows, data were collected on adult horses that were 3 years old and older and non‐pregnant.
The following body measurements were taken by trained personnel: body condition score (BCS), height at the third thoracic vertebra, neck circumference at the midway point between the poll and the third thoracic vertebra, body length from the point of the shoulder to a line perpendicular to the point of the buttock, and girth circumference at the third thoracic vertebra. Each horse was weighed using a portable livestock scale.
For draft horses only, shoe height was measured and actual height (height minus shoes) was used in the calculations. At the draft horse and warmblood show, the horse’s exhibitors were also asked to estimate their horse’s body weight prior to weighing horses on the livestock scale.
As expected, body measurements were different between breed‐types.
Ponies and draft horses had higher BCS compared to the other breed types. On average, draft horse and warmblood owners were 115 pounds off their horse’s actual body weight.
New equations were developed to estimate body weight and include:
Arabians, stock horses, and ponies
Bodyweight (lbs) = [girth (in)1.486 x body length (in)0.554 x height (in)0.599 x neck (in)0.173] / X
X = 119 (Arabians), 119 (ponies), or 114 (stock horses)
Draft horses and warmbloods
Bodyweight (lbs) = 25.09 x [Girth (in)1.528 x length (in)0.574 x height (in)0.246 x neck (in) 0.261] / X
X = 1,181 (draft horses) or 1,209 (warmbloods)
New equations were developed to estimate ideal body weight and include:
Arabians, stock horses and ponies
Ideal bodyweight (lbs) = [(15.58 x height (in)) + (23.52 x body length (in)) ‐ X]
X = 1,344 (Arabians), 1,269 (stock horses), or 1,333 (ponies)
Draft horses and warmbloods
Ideal bodyweight (lbs) = [(27.55 x height (in)) + (25.98 x body length (in)) ‐ X]
X = 2,092 (draft horses) or 2,235 (warmbloods)
The differences between each BCS averaged 37 (stock horses), 22 (ponies), 33 (Arabians), 86 (draft horses) and 37 (warmblood) pounds.
To remove the technical barriers that may inhibit some horse owners and professionals from utilizing the new body weight‐related equations, a fee-based app (Healthy Horse) was developed and is available for use with Android and Apple operating systems.
This article was written by Devan Catalano of the University of Minnesota.