How Tall Are Horses In Hands Based On Breed Group

Measuring a horse’s height accurately is important for various reasons, whether you’re a horse owner, breeder, or simply curious about them. There really is no average hight for all horses so let’s look at how tall are horses based on breed group or the uses of those breeds.

Horses come in different shapes and sizes, and their height is measured in a unit of measurement called “hands” or each hand is a set of four inches. For example, a measurement of 15 hands means the horse is 60 inches tall at the withers. Understanding how to measure a horse’s height accurately ensures consistency across the equine industry and helps with activities such as breeding, determining ideal saddle size, and competition purposes. It’s one of the easiest ways to keep things fair across competitions.

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Necessary Tools for Measuring a Horse’s Height

To ensure precise measurements, you will need a few essential tools.

  • A measuring tape or a soft tape measure will help you keep from spooking the horse. This tool should have both inches and hands measurements. The soft tape measure is designed specifically for equine use, making it flexible and easy to handle.
  • A level surface or level ground for the horse to stand on. This ensures that the measurements are not distorted or affected by uneven terrain. A flat area provides a stable and accurate base for the measurement process.
  • Having a helper is also beneficial during the measurement process. They can assist in keeping the horse still and calm, allowing for accurate measurements to be taken. A second set of hands can make the process smoother and ensure the horse remains in the correct position.
  • It’s always a good idea to have a notebook and pen handy. This way, you can record the measurements as you go, ensuring accuracy and providing a reference for future use.
horse jumping over the pole.

How to Measure a Horse’s Height Accurately

Using a measuring tape is one of the most common and convenient methods for measuring a horse’s height. 

A soft tape measure is ideal, specifically designed for equine use, that is flexible and easy to handle. 

To obtain an accurate measurement, it’s crucial to position the horse on a level surface, ideally on level ground or a flat area. Begin by placing the tape at the highest point of the withers, which is the ridge between its shoulder blades. Extend the measuring tape down to the ground next to the front leg, all the way to the hoof to get the height of your horse. Do not measure the height of the horse’s head since that does not stay at a consistent height.

Take the number of inches you have and divide that by four to get the number of hands the horse is tall.

What are the Tallest Breeds of Horses?

When it comes to towering over other horses, there are a few breeds that take the cake for being the tallest. If you’re curious about these giants, let’s dive into the world of the tallest horse breeds.

  • Belgian horse. Known for their immense strength and size, Belgians are true gentle giants. On average, they stand between 16 to 17 hands high, with some individuals reaching heights of over 18 hands.
  • Shire horse. Originating from England, these gentle giants can reach heights of up to 17 to 19 hands. Their impressive stature and striking appearance make them a favorite for parades and exhibitions.
  • Percheron. Originally bred as a war horse, these horses can reach heights of 16 to 18 hands. Despite their size, they are known for their gentle and calm temperament.
  • Clydesdale. These magnificent horses can stand as tall as 16 to 18 hands. With their trademark feathered legs and immense strength, they are often associated with Budweiser commercials and parades.
  • Friesian. Although not reaching the same heights as the previous breeds, Friesians still impress with their elegant appearance and proud carriage. On average, they stand between 15.3 to 16.3 hands.

So, if you’re in awe of tall horses, these breeds will surely leave you amazed. Whether it’s the towering presence of the Belgian or the grace of the Friesian, these majestic giants hold a special place in the world of horses.

The Average Height of a Draft Horse

Draft horses are known for their immense size and strength, making them the powerhouses of the equine world. These creatures are often used for heavy work and pulling, due to their ability to handle large loads. When it comes to their height, draft horses are no exception to their larger-than-life reputation. 

On average, draft horses can range in height from 16 to 19 hands, with some individuals even reaching heights of over 20 hands. 

Draft Horse Breed Examples

Draft horses are known for their immense size and strength. Here are five different breed heights examples of draft horse breeds. These large horses are great for getting the job done and are often used for police work these days.

1. Belgian Draft: The Belgian Draft horse is one of the tallest and heaviest draft breeds. They can reach an average height between 16 and 18 hands (64 to 72 inches) at the shoulder, making them a towering presence.

2. Clydesdale: Originating from Scotland, the Clydesdale is renowned for its striking appearance and large stature. They typically measure between 16 and 18 hands (64 to 72 inches) in height, with some individuals even surpassing this range.

3. Percheron: The Percheron breed hails from France and is known for its agility despite its size. They stand between 16 and 18 hands (64 to 72 inches) tall, making them incredibly powerful horses.

4. Shire: Referred to as the gentle giant, the Shire stands out for its sheer size. This breed can reach an impressive height of up to 17.2 hands (70 inches) and is one of the tallest horse breeds on average.

5. Suffolk Punch: Originating from England, the Suffolk Punch is a compact and muscular draft breed. They average around 16.1 to 17.2 hands (65 to 70 inches) in height, with some individuals reaching greater heights.

These draft horse breeds are not only tall but also have the ability to carry heavy loads and perform demanding tasks due to their robust build and strength.

The Average Height of Warmbloods

When it comes to horses, there is a wide range of sizes and breeds to choose from. One popular category of horses is warmbloods, which are known for their versatility and athleticism. Warmbloods are often used in various disciplines such as dressage, show jumping, and eventing. 

In this article, we will explore the average height of warm-blood horses and provide some insights into why their height can vary. Whether you are a rider or simply interested in horses, understanding their average height can give you a better sense of what to expect from this particular breed.

Warmblood Hores Breeds

Warmblood horse breeds are highly sought after for their versatility and excellent athletic abilities. These breeds, which originated from crossing hot-blooded and cold-blooded horses, have become increasingly popular in various equestrian disciplines.

  • Hanoverian horses are one of the most recognized warmblood breeds worldwide. With an average height ranging between 15.1 to 17.2 hands, Hanoverians are known for their elegant appearance and exceptional rideability. They excel in dressage and show jumping due to their powerful hindquarters and graceful movement.
  • Another well-known (another one of the taller horses) warmblood breed is the Dutch Warmblood. These horses are typically between 15.3 to 17 hands tall and are highly regarded for their athletic ability and strong jumping potential. They are often seen competing in show jumping, dressage, and eventing.
  • The Oldenburg breed, originating from Oldenburg, Germany, is also prominent in the warmblood category. They have an average height of 16 to 17 hands and possess a noble appearance with powerful gaits. Oldenburgs are known for their talent in dressage and show jumping.

The Holsteiner breed, hailing from the Schleswig-Holstein region in Germany, is renowned for its strength, durability, and jumping ability. These warmbloods typically stand between 16 to 17 hands tall and are frequently seen in show jumping and eventing competitions.

Lastly, the Swedish Warmblood breed, known for its exceptional temperament and rideability, has an average height between 15.3 to 17 hands. Swedish Warmbloods excel in dressage, show jumping, and eventing due to their balanced gaits and calm demeanor.

These warmblood horse breeds possess unique characteristics that make them highly desirable in the equestrian world. Whether you’re looking for a talented show jumper, a graceful dressage partner, or an all-around athlete, these breeds offer a variety of choices for equestrian sports.

The Average Height of Gaited and Light Horses

Gaited and light horses come in a variety of breeds, each with its own unique characteristics and average height. Gaited horses, like the Tennessee Walking Horse and the Paso Fino, are known for their smooth, comfortable gaits. These horses typically range in height from 14 to 16 hands, making them suitable for riders of various sizes. 

Light horses, such as the Arabian and the Quarter Horse, are versatile and commonly used for various disciplines, including trail riding, Western pleasure, and barrel racing. These horses tend to have an average height between 14.2 to 16 hands, with some individuals being smaller or taller depending on their breed and lineage. 

Light horse breeds

Light horse breeds are some of the most popular breeds of horses, known for their versatility and athleticism. Here are some of the most well-known light horse breeds:

1. Arabian: The Arabian horse is a graceful and elegant breed, known for its refined head and high tail carriage. They are typically around 14.1 to 15.1 hands high (57 to 61 inches) and have a compact and muscular build.

2. Thoroughbred: Thoroughbreds are best known for their speed and are often used in horse racing. They typically stand around 15.2 to 17.2 hands high (62 to 70 inches) and have a lean and athletic build. Thoroughbreds are known for their energy and stamina.

3. Quarter Horse: The Quarter Horse is a versatile breed with excellent speed over short distances. They range from around 14.3 to 16 hands high (59 to 64 inches) and have a muscular and compact build. Quarter Horses are popular in Western riding disciplines as well as in various other equestrian activities.

4. Morgan: Morgans are known for their compact size and versatility. They typically stand around 14.1 to 15.2 hands high (57 to 62 inches) and have a muscular build. Morgans are often used in driving, dressage, and trail riding.

5. Appaloosa: Appaloosas are known for their unique coat patterns and versatile nature. They typically range from around 14 to 16 hands high (56 to 64 inches) and have a sturdy build. Appaloosas are often used in Western riding disciplines and are known for their endurance.

race horses

The Average Height of Ponies

Ponies come in various sizes and breeds, each with their own average height range. The average height of ponies can vary depending on the breed and classification. Ponies are typically smaller than full-sized horses and are known for their sturdy build and strong temperament. The height of ponies is measured in hands, with one hand equal to four inches. On average, ponies range from 9 to 14.2 hands high (36 to 58 inches). This makes them ideal for children and smaller riders. Pony breeds such as Welsh, Shetland, and Connemara are popular for their compact size and suitability for various equestrian disciplines. Ponies often have a mischievous and playful nature, making them beloved companions and mounts for both children and adults alike.

Pony horse breeds

When it comes to pony horse breeds, there are several different types with varying average heights in hands. 

Let’s take a closer look at some popular small ponies and horse breeds:

1. Welsh Pony: The Welsh Pony is known for its versatility and charming temperament. These ponies typically measure between 11 and 13 hands, making them a great choice for both children and small adults. They are often seen competing in various disciplines such as dressage, jumping, and driving.

2. Shetland Pony: Shetland Ponies are small but mighty. With an average height of 9 to 10.2 hands, these sturdy little ponies were historically used for pulling carts and working in coal mines. Today, they are beloved for their friendly (while occasionally spunky) nature and are popular in children’s pony rides.

3. Connemara Pony: Originating from Ireland, the Connemara Pony is both agile and beautiful. These ponies measure about 12.2 to 14.2 hands in height, and their compact size makes them excellent jumpers. With a kind and willing disposition, they are often used in show jumping, eventing, and dressage competitions.

4. Haflinger Pony: Haflinger Ponies, native to Austria and Italy, are known for their striking chestnut coat and flowing blonde mane. These ponies typically range from 13.2 to 14.2 hands in height. They are versatile and excel in various disciplines, including driving, trail riding, and even dressage.

5. Dartmoor Pony: The Dartmoor Pony hails from the rugged moorlands of Dartmoor in England. They have a height range of 11.2 to 12.2 hands and are known for their hardiness and agility. Dartmoor Ponies are often used in children’s riding, driving, and showing, thanks to their friendly and trustworthy nature.

Each pony horse breed described above has its own unique qualities and average height in hands, making them suitable for different purposes and riders. Whether you’re looking for a companion pony or a talented competitor, these breeds offer a wide range of options to choose from.

As you can see there isn’t really an average height of a horse. The wide range of a horse’s height is based on what they were INTENDED FOR. Which makes total sense when it comes to choosing the right horse for you or your family member. 

quarter horse

Don’t let these different sizes cause you to feel overwhelmed with choosing the right breed of horse for you. To be on the safe side bigger is always better if you intend to ride the horse. That way you know you are not asking too much of the horse. Assuming the horse is well behaved you shouldn’t have any issues handling the horse itself. 

​Knowing the height measurement will also help you know if you are able to mount the horse without a stepstool or if you may need to build a mounting stand for you are going to be riding horses often.

You can also keep the horse’s girth in mind which will give you an idea of its strength and capacity. Using a horse’s weight tape to measure the length and heart girth will help you get a rough estimate of the horse’s weight and strength. 

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