Ever wonder how much your horse weighs? Ever wonder how it compares to other horses in the same or in different disciplines? In this article, I’ll be discussing thoroughbred weight and how much a standard racehorse weighs.
Racehorses are traditionally part of the Thoroughbred breed, so I will be using the Thoroughbred as the basis of the numbers concluded and discussed below. How much do Thoroughbreds weigh when they are in a racing career, and how can that fluctuate based on career changes and workload?
Thoroughbred Weight: How to Weigh Horses
Horses can be weighed using a few different methods. The most straightforward of these is a scale. Equine clinics and hospitals have extra-large scales that horses can step onto from the ground. As can be expected, these scales give an accurate reading, to the pound.
But, the most common method of weighing a horse is using a weight tape. These tapes look similar to measuring tapes and are wrapped around a horse’s belly. There is then a conversion that happens (dependent on the tape) to convert the measurement into a weight.
Horse weights are also often “eyeballed,” although these estimates can be 100-200 lbs off, depending on how well or how poorly a particular horse carries weight.
Average Horse Weights
Different types of horses carry different average weights. This is important to understand when observing the weight of a particular breed of horse, such as the Thoroughbred.
For example, the average weight of a standard-sized riding horse is 900-2000 pounds, varying dependent on breed and height. Average draft horses will weigh between 1800-200 pounds. And, ponies can range from 200-1400 pounds, again dependent on the breed and height of the pony.
You can browse the average weight for mature horses of many breeds at this link.
EquiAnalytical shares specific horse’s breeds, low and high average weights in pounds, low and high average weights in inches, low and high average weights in kilograms, and low and high average heights in centimeters. It is a great tool for understanding the average horse weights.
Thoroughbred Weight: Different Thoroughbred Careers
The weight, and concurrently body-type, of a Thoroughbred, will also depend on what kind of career the specific horse has had. Thoroughbreds on the track tend to be more lean and thin (not necessarily unhealthily so) than Thoroughbreds who have landed in a career in the hanger/jumper rings or as a trail horse. Thoroughbreds in the 3-day eventing ring also tend to be on the lean side.
These are purely averages, as not every Thoroughbred will succumb to these standards. But, all of this to say that the weight of a particular Thoroughbred is dictated by the average weight of racehorses.
Above all else, a horse’s weight is dependent on its diet. What you feed, or do not feed your horse will determine his weight. For example, horses that live outside and only have access to hay and grass may not have as high of bodyweight as horses that get fed grain twice a day.
The quality of the feeds your horse is getting also has a large impact; when my Thoroughbred switched barns, he also switched grains, and within the first six months of being at the new barn, he had gained over 100 lbs.
Location and climate can also contribute to diet and/or quality of food. For example, horses that live in southern California rarely have access to grass. In contrast, horses from the midwestern states, such as Michigan and Illinois, have access to grass all day every day.
It all depends on the dutifulness of the owners, barn managers, and trainers to decide what a horse needs to eat, whether it is to replace certain elements of a horse’s diet, supplement certain elements of a horse’s diet, or eliminate certain elements of a horse’s diet.
Again, this is simply to say that yes, there are average weights, but an individual horse’s weight is dependent on many factors.
Average Racehorse Weight
Disclaimers aside, the average Thoroughbred racehorse weighs 1030-1130 lbs. When Thoroughbreds are raced, they are young (traditionally between 2-5 years) and gangly. In other words, this is the average weight of a racehorse, but it is not the average weight of a mature Thoroughbred.
Typically, because of their young age, racehorses haven’t developed all of the bone mass or muscle mass that they will have when they are at a mature age. For the majority of their careers, racehorses are considered fillies (for young mares) and stallions (for ungelded horses), showing their young ages.
Just like people, horses, and racehorses, gain weight with age. Our body shapes and sizes change, and so do the numbers on the scale. All of these things contribute to giving racehorses, in particular, much lighter weight than a mature Thoroughbred, whether it has a career in racing or not.
Average Thoroughbred Weight
To illustrate this, the average weight of a mature Thoroughbred is approximately 1250 lbs. My Thoroughbred weighs about 1400, but he’s on the chunkier side. Mature Thoroughbred weight is again, determined by many factors.
These include, but are not limited to, career type, food quantity, and food quality. Another factor to keep in mind is age. A “mature” horse is any horse older than five years old (i.e.- after a horse’s bones have stopped growing).
And, while horses will hit their peak average weights after about 7-8 years old, they will typically also start losing weight as they get older. It is harder to keep weight on older, senior horses, and these statistics will also factor into averages of mature horse weights.
Racehorses are traditionally small, young horses. Because of this, their average weight is less than the average weight of a typical riding horse. Perhaps this makes them faster and more aerodynamic on the track!
I hope this article helped you learn about the average weight of horses and in particular, racehorses. If so, please share this article, and share with us your experiences with weighing horses!