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I often get asked, “How much do horses weigh,” my smart retort is usually, “how long is a string.” To meaningfully answer, we need to know the horses’ breed category.
Horses weigh between 900 and 2,200 pounds. Draft horses’ weight ranges from 1,400 to 2,000 lb Warmbloods typically weigh between 1200-1450 lbs, and light horses range weight ranges from 900 to 1200 lbs.
Draft, warmbloods, and light horses are distinct groups of horses that can be distinguished by their weight. However, there are other factors besides weight that separates these horses.
The weight of horses
Horses are classified by size and purpose. There are many ways to group horses; however, the most common method is by there size and purpose. Through selective breeding, specific characteristics were developed in a group of horses.
Heavy horses are often referred to as cold-blooded or draft horses. Middleweight horses are called warmbloods, and the lightest horses are called either hot-bloods or light horses.
Within these categories, horses can be further broken down by use, for example, riding, racing, driving, jumping, or utility. We will look at each category in this article. (You can click here to read our article on best breeds for specific equine activities.)
Coldblooded horses are the heaviest horses.
Draft horses’ are the most massive horse group. They are роwеrfully built with ѕtrоng lеgѕ аnd a widе body their weight ranges from 1,400 to 2,000 lbs.
Draft horses are considered “cold blood” horses and are significantly larger than warm and hot-blooded horses by a couple of hands and may weigh two hundred pounds or more than warm-blooded horses.
Draft horses are not only big and strong; they also have a gentle, docile temperament. Soon after hоrѕеs were domesticated, it was rесоgnizеd thаt hеаviеr, and calm horses wеrе best for fаrm labor — selective brееding over thоuѕаndѕ оf уеаrѕ rеѕultеd in the modern drаft hоrѕеѕ.
The steady draft horse played аn imроrtаnt раrt in Wоrld Wаr I pulling аrtillеrу and carrying both ammunition аnd ѕuррliеѕ. Over one milliоn draft horses were used for Wоrld War I, only 200 hоrѕеѕ are known to have survived. (Click here to read our article on horses used in warfare)
Today’s draft horses, with their Herculean bodies, appeared on the scene at thе beginning оf thе ninеtееnth сеnturу. Thеѕе horses wеrе bred fоr trаnѕроrting freight, pulling carriages, and working on fаrms.
There is an interesting market report from 1913 available online. It covers draft horses for sale, with pictures and descriptions of their uses. The in-depth report can be accessed by clicking here.
World’s heaviest horse is a draft horse
The most popular of the heavy draft breeds are Belgium, Clydesdale, Percheron, and the Shire. The heaviest recorded weight of any horse is Sampson, a Shire that weighed 3,300 lbs.
Warmblooded horses are the middleweight class of horses?
Warmbloods are the middleweight horse group. They typically weigh between 1250-1450 lbs and are bred for equestrian sport. Warmbloods don’t refer to blood temperature but rather the influence of both cold and hot-blooded horses.
Warmblood horses are more similar to light horses than draft breeds. They are finer-boned and suitable for riding events. According to some classifications, any horse breed that’s not a Thoroughbred, draft, or pony is considered as a warmblood.
Warmbloods are astonishing animals, and they are a combination of beauty and versatility. Warmbloods are a real breed with closed studbooks, which means only a horse of that breed can register the studbook. There are a wide variety of breeds in the Warmblood group.
Warmbloods are high-quality sports horses used in show arenas all over the world. They excel in disciplines such as dressage, jumping, and eventing.
Hot-blooded horses are the lightest horse group.
The average light horse weighs 1,000 lbs. This group of horses is also called hot-bloods. The reason they are referred to as hot-blooded is twofold, and neither reason has any relation to the temperature of their blood.
The first reason: Hot-blooded horses originate from areas with a hot climate like Asia, Eygpt, and the Arabian peninsula. The second reason: Lightweight horses are called hot-blooded because they tend to be high strung and hot-tempered horses.
Hot-blooded horses, along with being high spirited, are bold and quick learners. They are bred for speed and agility and are fine-boned, thin-skinned, and have long legs.
Hot-blooded horses are the most commonly used horses for flat track racing. However, many of these lighter horse breeds compete in jumping, dressage and are used for trail riding. If you want a spirited horse with speed, a hot-blooded horse is for you.
How to determine your horses healthy weight?
Horses are individuals however, there is a baseline test to determine your horse healthy weight, it’s called the Henneke Equine Body Condition Scoring System (BCS).
The BCS is a useful guideline designed to evaluate the health and wellbeing of horses. It is also used by most authorities investigating claims of horse abuse.
The Henneke Equine Body Condition Scoring System takes away the guesswork when trying to evaluate a horse’s weight by assigning a numerical value to the quantity and area of fat on horses.
The scoring requires a visual inspection of the animal along with an assessment by palpating fat in the locations deemed critical. The sections of the horse evaluated are the loins, ribs, tailhead, withers, neck, and shoulders.
After checking each location a number is given based on the amount of fat, and the figures are totaled to give a rating based on your evaluation of the animal.
The BCS system scale ranks horses from 1 to 9, a rating of 1 is the lowest and horses with this score are deemed emaciated. A score of 9 represents the opposite end of the spectrum, and a horse rated 9 is obese.
Body Condition Scores from 4 to 6 is ideal.
Body condition scores from 4 to 6 fall into the acceptable range for any horse breed. BCS scores from 7 to 9 indicate a horse is overweight to obese. Most overweight horses have significant health issues.
Overweight horses are prone to disease, overheating, and poor performance. However, if you intend to start your horse on a weight-reduction plan, begin slowly, and routinely monitor its weight.
A horse with a score of 4 is considered moderately thin, most moderately thin horses have a crease along its back, and a faint outline of ribs is noticeable.
You should be able to feel fat along the horses’ tailhead, and not be able to see its hip bones. Its withers, neck, and shoulders shouldn’t be obviously thin.
A horse with a score of 5 is deemed moderate it has a level back, and its ribs can be felt but not seen easily. The fat around its tailhead is slightly spongy, and the withers are rounded, and the shoulders and neck blend smoothly into its body.
Horses that score 6 on the BCS scale are classified as moderately fleshy, and they have a slight crease down its back, and the fat on the tailhead is soft. The fat over the ribs is spongy and fat is beginning show along the sides of the withers, behind the shoulders and along the neck.
I have a much more detailed description of the Henneke Equine Body Condition Scoring System (BCS) with charts and diagrams here.