To many people, horses are big and intimidating animals, whilst others regard them as cute and fluffy ponies. But when it comes to size, how big is a horse in size compared to a human?
The height of horses and humans is very difficult to compare, for a variety of reasons. Let’s take a look at all the factors behind the size of a horse compared to a human, and find out how they measure up.
How Is Human And Horse Size Measured?
How Much Does A Pony Weigh?
How Much Does A Pony Weigh?
When we think about size, we tend to think about the height of something – that is the measurement of how tall it is. We can also look at the weight of something – that is the measurement of how heavy it is.
So, if we are going to compare the size of a horse to a human, we need to figure out how these measurements compare.
The height of a human is measured from the ground to the top of the head. This is the most consistent measurement, as long as the person is standing upright with his feet flat on the floor. If we took another measurement, for example to the tips of the fingers, this would change according to whether the arms were raised or lowered.
Human height is normally recorded using either meters and centimeters or feet and inches.
The height of a horse is measured in a very different way to humans. The measurement is taken as the distance from the floor to the top of the withers. This is the bony section of the spine at the base of the neck, just in front of where the saddle sits.
The withers are the most reliable point to measure, as the height is consistently the same. If the measurement was taken at the head or the hindquarters the distance would change as the horse moved.
The height of a horse is recorded in a measurement known as hands. This is an ancient and traditional way of measuring horses, which is still in common use today. One hand is equal to four inches, so the height is described in hands and inches.
The only exception to this is very small ponies, such as miniature horses. These are often measured in inches, rather than hands.
It is much easier to compare the weights of two different things. We just need to make sure that the same units are used.
Humans are normally weighed either in kilograms or in stones and pounds. Horses are also weighed in kilograms, or they can be weighed in pounds. The most standard way to compare the weight of a horse to a human would be to use either kilograms or pounds.
The difficulty arises when it comes to weighing a horse! Weighing a human is easy – we can do this at home, at the medical center, or at the gym. Horses will need to be taken to a weighbridge to get an accurate measurement.
How Do Horse Sizes Differ?
It won’t be a surprise to many of you that horses come in many different sizes! They vary widely in height, ranging from tiny miniature horses to giant draft horses.
This is because horses of different heights are used for different roles. Breeding programs over the centuries have focused on increasing or decreasing the height of certain breeds. Most domesticated horse breeds are intended to fit within a specific height range, to suit a certain purpose or role.
Horses also differ widely in weight. However, this is not only due to the height of the horse, but also the build. The build of a horse relates to how muscular and strong a horse is.
For example, many children’s ponies are described as ‘well built’. This means that they are short in height, but have a wide and muscular stature. This means that they will weigh more than a pony of similar height that is more refined and elegant in stature.
At the other extreme, we have hot-blooded breeds such as Arabians and Thoroughbreds. These are much taller but have a lithe and slender physique, which keeps their overall body weight lower.
Therefore, 13.2 hands high pony can have the same bodyweight as a 15.3 hands high Thoroughbred, despite the considerable height difference!
Horse And Human Size Comparison
So, let’s take a look at how horses compare to humans! Firstly we’ll look at the extreme ends of the scale, with the tallest, heaviest, and smallest of both species.
To compare horses to humans, we need to use the same measurements for both. So for height, we have converted both into meters and centimeters. For weight, we have used kilograms for both humans and horses.
- Tallest Horse – 2 meters and 19 centimeters
This record was held by a Shire gelding named Sampson born in the UK in 1850.
- Tallest Human – 2 meters and 72 centimeters
Beating the horse by over half a meter, Robert Wadlow has held this record since 1940.
- Heaviest Horse – 1524 kilograms.
This record was also held by Sampson, the giant Shire horse.
- Heaviest Human – 635 kilograms
At less than half the weight of Sampson, this record was held by Jon Brower Minnoch.
- Smallest Horse – 44.5 centimeters
This record has been held since 2002 by a tiny mare named Thumbelina.
- Smallest Human – 54.6 centimeters
The shortest adult human was a Nepalese craftsman called Chandra Bahadur Dangi. He was however still 10 centimeters taller than the smallest horse!
So, who is the overall winner? Well, these are the extreme ends of the height and weight scale, and there is no real way to compare them!
So, as we have learned, horses and humans both differ so widely in weight and height that it is very difficult to make a comparison! However, you are much more likely to find a horse that is heavier than a human than the other way round. You would need an exceptionally small horse and a large person for the human to be bigger.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about our horse size compared to humans – do you think bigger or smaller horses are better? Maybe you’re struggling to find a horse that is the right size for you? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!