To succeed in maintaining your horse at a healthy weight, you will need:
It will help if you can also:
- work with a partner or team
- be objective; that means taking off your rose-tinted spectacles
- remain focused on your goal of a healthier horse
How to tell if your horse is a healthy weight
In order to maintain a healthy body weight all horses should be managed with a combination of the right diet, good health care and regular, suitable exercise (even if they are not in ridden work).
This is particularly important for those horses which gain weight easily – the so-called ‘good doers’. It is very difficult to know in advance the ideal weight for any horse. The chart below gives a guide, but there are so many variations of height and type, with muscle bulk and bone density making a difference too, it can only be a guide.
Horse approximate weight guide – in kilograms
To be sure that your horse is within a healthy weight range however, you need more tools.
Tools for assessing weight and condition
This is the only truly accurate method to measure a horse’s weight, for most people it is not an option, but if you can use one it is worth it. You can then be totally accurate with wormer and feed calculations.
In the absence of a weighbridge, a weigh-tape is an essential tool to keep in your tack box. They are cheap to buy and used regularly will help you monitor weight gain and loss, and to be more accurate with feeding and medication. The weigh-tape is used around the horse’s girth, where a roller would normally fit.
Remember to follow the instructions carefully, use the same make of tape and keep a record of the readings.
If more than one person is using the tape, make sure you are using it in the same way, at the same time of day and in the same place each time.
- The formula
Slightly more accurate than a weigh-tape is a calculation where you measure your horse with a tape measure (in inches), and work out the weight using a formula.
The formula was developed at Texas University.
The calculation: (heartgirth x heartgirth) x body length ÷ by 330. This gives the weight of the horse in pounds (lbs).
The heartgirth measurement: Take a measuring tape and measure all the way around the horse’s girth from the highest point of the wither going to just behind the elbows.
The body length: Measure from the point of shoulder in a straight line around to the point of buttock on one side.The result is in pounds (lbs). You can divide this by 2.2 to get kilograms.
- Body scoring
However accurate the weight measurements are they cannot tell you if that weight is right for your horse. For that you need body scoring.