Having a good idea of what your horse weighs is very important. You need to know what your horse’s weight is when it comes to knowing how much feed or hay they need, what dose of medication or wormers they need and to understand if they are a healthy weight or not. But how can I weigh a horse? And is weight the most important thing to consider?
Main methods to weigh a horse
There are 3 main ways to weigh a horse; using a weigh tape, using a weighbridge or using a weight formula.
A weighbridge is the most accurate method of weighing your horse. These bridges are essentially horse sized scales. You walk your horse onto one and wait for a weight to be given. Unfortunately, weighbridges are not common on yards. Many nutritionists can bring portable bridges for yard visits. But unless you have regular access to a weighbridge, you are going to need to use another method to keep an eye on your horse’s weight.
Most horse owners have a weightape knocking about somewhere are the yard. If you don’t have one, you can pick one up cheaply online or in most horse feed shops. They are really quick and easy to use, giving you a fairly accurate reading of your horse’s weight. Simply stand them up square on a flat surface and wrap the tape around them at the base of their withers around their girth. The tape will then tell you how much your horse weighs.
If you want a more accurate way of calculating your horse’s weight, there are a few different formulas you can use, what involve you taking a few different measurements from your horse. These formulas can be as simple as using your horses girth size (the same measurement as the weigh tape) combined with your horse’s body length (think rug size) to combining with other measurements such as height, bone circumfrance and neck circumfrance.
Check out this great video by Dengie on how to weigh tape your horse:
But weight doesn’t tell you if your horse is the right weight
You need to know what your horse weighs in order to make sure you are feeding them the correct level of nutrients and get any medication right for them. But knowing how much your horse weighs won’t tell you if they are the correct weight or not. With obesity being one of the biggest risks to our horses at the moment, owners really need to take more steps to understand what a healthy weight looks like for their horse.
The best way to work out if your horse is the right weight or not is to give them a body condition score. The 1-9 system rates horses from 1 meaning they have poor body coverage to 9, meaning they are very fat. On this system 5 is the perfect score. You assess the horse in 6 sections, giving each section a score. You then average the scores to get the horses overall score. Baileys have a fantastic body condition scoring guide to talk you through scoring your horse.
Once you have your horses body condition score, you can use this alongside their current weight. If they are a perfect 5 (or there abouts) you know roughly what a healthy weight looks like for them. You can double check you are feeding the right levels of food and medication. If they have a slightly high or low body condition score, you can then use their current weight to workout how much more/less feed you should be feeding them.