Measuring a Horse's Height

The height of a horse is measured in hands and inches. Here you can find out how to measure the height of a horse.

Your horse should be on even ground

To ensure your horse's height is measured accurately, it is very important to make sure your horse is standing on even ground with their feet fairly close together. You might want to get someone to hold your horse or tie your horse to a hitching post whilst you measure their height.

Ideally a horse's height should be measured when they aren't wearing shoes, but this isn't vitally important.

How to measure your horse's height

Either by using a roll-out tape measure or measuring stick, measure your horse's height from it's feet to the highest point of it's withers (shoulder blades).

If you are using an equine measuring tape, place the end of it under your foot and unravel it until you reach the withers. If you are using an equine measuring stick (or hand stick), simply rest the base on the ground and move the adjustable slider to rest on the withers. Take your horse's measurement!

TIP! Always make sure the stick or tape is perpendicular to the ground - and not slanted!

Calculating the height of your horse

Since some measuring devices will give your the height of your horse in inches (or centimetres), you may need to do some conversion to find out your horse's height in hands. Remember that one hand is 4 inches, and 4 inches is 10.16 centimetres.

If your horse if 15 and a half hands, it is written as 15.2, not 15.5. The figure after the decimal point is not a fraction of a hand, but the inches over the nearest number of whole hands. The way you would say the height of this horse is "fifteen two", which means fifteen hands and two inches in height.

Horse height conversion chart

HandsCentimetresInches HandsCentimetresInches
10101.640 14142.2456
10.1104.1441 14.1144.7857
10.2106.6842 14.2147.3258
10.3109.2243 14.3149.8659
11111.7644 15152.460
11.1114.345 15.1154.9461
11.2116.8446 15.2157.4862
11.3119.3847 15.3160.0263
12121.9248 16162.5664
12.1124.4649 16.1165.165
12.212750 16.2167.6466
12.3129.5451 16.3170.1867
13132.0852 17172.7268
13.1134.6253 17.1175.2669
13.2137.1654 17.2177.870
13.3139.755 17.3180.3471
18182.8872

Why are horses measured in hands?!

It's simple really - people didn't have measuring devices historically, so they decided to measure the height of their horse by placing a hand width on on top of the other from the horse's feet to the horse's withers. Historically people used body parts to measure distances.