The most accurate method of weighing your horse is on an equine specific weighbridge,
which will provide an accurate calculation of bodyweight. However, these facilities are not
widely accessible. A public weighbridge may be available but this environment may not be
very safe to unload a horse in. Public weighbridges are normally designed for larger
weights so you would need to drive your lorry with the horse inside onto the weighbridge
and record the weight. The horse can then be removed and the lorry re-weighed. The
weight of the horse can then be determined by subtracting the second result from the first.
Many horse owners and carers do not have access to weighing facilities, which is why
using a weigh tape or a weight formula are the most practical solutions.
Monitoring body weight
Having an accurate idea of your horse’s bodyweight is important for a number of reasons;
· To calculate your horse’s ration.
· To accurately identify weight loss and weight gain. Allowing you to keep your horse
or pony at a healthy weight by adjusting feed and grazing accordingly.
· To identify any sudden weight loss which may indicate a health problem.
· To enable the correct dosage and administration of medication, supplements and
anthelmintics (wormers). In the case of worming, underestimating your horse’s weight and
therefore under dosing can potentially result in a worm burden and worms becoming
resistant to wormers.
· When you see a horse or pony everyday it can be very difficult to identify changes
in condition by eye alone.
How to use a Weigh tape
A weigh tape is a valuable tool for objectively calculating and monitoring your horse’s
weight. Weigh tapes are widely available and inexpensive. The most accurate weigh
tapes come as separate Pony (14.2 and under) and Horse (14.2 and over) tapes.
The tape should be placed over the lowest point of the withers passing around the horse
as close to the elbow as possible. The tape should be pulled firmly around the horse but
not so that it dents the flesh. The tape will be on a slight diagonal angle when in the
correct position. Do not place the tape as you would a girth, ensure the tape passes as
close to the elbow as possible.
To help make the reading as accurate as possible
have your horse stood square on a flat surface. If
your horse is initially tense wait until he relaxes before
taking the measurement. It is helpful to initially have
someone with you to reassure the horse and ensure
that the tape is in the correct position on both sides of
the horse and that it is not twisted.
A weigh tape in the correct position
(courtesy of Effem Equine)
How to use a weight formula
Using a weight formula can again be reasonably accurate when done correctly.
Make sure that your horse is standing square and is relaxed. Using an ordinary measuring
tape measure around the girth in the same method as with the weigh tape (from the lowest
point of the wither passing as close to the back of the elbow as possible (see picture 1).
Record the reading in cms.
Next measure from the point of shoulder to the point of buttock . You will
need a helper to do this accurately. The tape can either follow the contours of the horses
body or simply be held taut and in place from one point to the next. Ensure that whichever
method you choose you are consistent each time you measure. Record this measurement
Insert the readings into the formula below:
i. Girth2 (cm)
ii. Multiply the answer of point i. (Girth2) by the body length (from point of shoulder to
point of buttock) = Length.
iii. Divide the answer by 11,877 to achieve an accurate estimation of your horse’s body
Using a weigh tape or formula can provide a good estimate of your horse’s bodyweight
and a very accurate method of monitoring any changes. When using these methods try to
ensure that you estimate the weight around the same time of day and in similar
circumstances in respect to feed/exercise. This will help to provide a more reliable and