Average Horse Weight Chart

It’s hard to determine average horse weight even when factoring in height. This is because there is a multitude of breeds, with vastly different conformation characteristics. For example, a Gypsy may only be 14-15 hands, but a healthy and average weight will be extremely different from a 14-15 hand Morgan. For this reason, many people use the Henneke Scale (shown below) as a gauge for proper weight. Here is an average horse weight chart using very loose guidelines:

Average Horse Weight Chart

When speaking about an “average” horse, most people think of a 900-1,100-pound 15 hand horse. However, average horse sizes range from 800 up to 1,800 pounds depending on the breed!

Horse BreedWeight (kg)Height (hh)
American Cream Draft725-90515-16.3
American Quarter Horse455-59014-16.3
American Saddlebred455-54514.3-16.1
American Standardbred545-60014-15
Appaloosa455-59014-15
Arabian380-48014.1-15.1
Belgian Draft860-100014-17.3
Clydesdale725-81515.3-17
Dutch Warmblood545-59015.3-16.3
Friesian545-63515-16
Miniature Horse110-2257.3-9
Mustang365-45512-14.1
Percheron860-95515.3-17.1
Shire770-122516-17.3
Tennessee Walker410-63514.3-15.3
Thoroughbred455-59015.3-17
Walkaloosa455-59014-15
Welsh Pony205-34012-13.1
Welsh Cob270-45513-14.1

The Henneke Scale

The Henneke scale is a good way to assess equine body scores among different breeds. The system uses visual and palpated fat scoring from the ribs, withers, loin, tailhead, shoulders, and neck. The scoring system is rated from 1-9, with 5 being ideal. The poorest condition, 1, is a state of extreme emaciation. At this point, most horses will start to experience organ failure.  The highest number, 9, is extreme fat that poses an immediate danger.

Condition LevelRibsNeckWitherLoinTailheadShoulder
Poor 1Prominent and project outwardProminent and project outwardBone structure prominent, the horse appears emaciated, no fatty tissuesBone prominentSpinous processes project outwardlyBone projection, no fatty tissuesBone structure is seen and felt
Very Thin 2Almost no fat coveringribs Horse still emaciatedFaint fat coveringSlight fat covering spinous processes, but still prominentTailhead still prominentShoulder line highly visible
Thin 3Very slight fat on ribs, still visibleHighly visible withersNeck Highly visible shoulderSpinous processes only half covered in fat, still prominent and traverse processes can’t be feltTailhead projects but individual vertebrae hidden, pin bones not highly distinguishableAccentuated
Moderately Thin 5FaintNeck not prominently thinWithers not obviously thinNegative crease noticeable on the backFat can be felt, but not seen, hook bones are not discernibleOutline Not noticeably thin
Moderate 5Ribs not visible, but easily feltNeck blends into the bodyWithers rounded nicelyLevel backFat around tailhead and starts to feel spongyShoulder blends nicely
Moderately Fleshy 6Ribs not visible, but easily feltBeginning fat depositsBeginning fat depositsPossible positive crease down spineFat around tailhead is softBeginning fat deposits
Fleshy 7Fat filling between ribs, but ribs still separateActual fat depositsThere are fat depositsPossible positive crease down spineDistinguishable Fat around tailhead will be softNew fat deposits behind shoulder line
Fat 8Difficult to feel ribs at allThickened neck and crest, fatty buttocksWithers have fat pocketsAll Positive crease down spineTailhead very softNo noticeable shoulder line
Extremely Fat 9Patchy fat and no visible ribsBulging fat and cresty, buttocks may rubFat bulgesLarge positive crease down spineFat built up around tailheadFat bulges

Proper Weight

So what is a proper weight for a horse, and why is it important? Ideally, a horse will score a “5”, which is a moderate weight and considered ideal. Distinct characteristics of this chart include smooth neck to body transitions, rounded withers over the spine, no visible ribs but easily felt, level back, and fat present around the tailhead. Serious irreversible medical issues can arise when a horse is too extreme in either direction on the Henneke Scale.

Overweight

Horses suffering from obesity have increased stress on both the lungs and the heart. This can also be an issue in developing horses, causing bone and joint issues. Although not a problem in all animals, horses are also at increased risk of laminitis when overweight. No hoof, no horse!

Underweight

Although many health problems can result in an underweight horse, nutritional gaps are the primary problem with underweight horses. Nutritional deficiencies can result in a multitude of problems. As horses become emaciated, they lose necessary muscling and protective fat layers. At the final stages, a horse’s internal organs will begin to fail.

Underweight horse

Feed Control Methods

Feed control is the primary way to control weight on a horse. Exercise is a factor, but grass and feeds can make or break a horse’s diet. However, each corrective feeding method has its own challenges. When putting weight on an emaciated horse, it must be done strategically and slowly primarily with easily digestible forage. When “dieting” a horse, it can be difficult to find low NSC hays or control pasture access/grass growth.

 Final Thoughts

Although averages for horse weight are wide-ranging, this chart should give readers a good idea of what ideal and average body weights are. Where do your horses fall on the Henneke scale? If you have friends with horses, be sure to share this article!

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