Hands in Horses

Hands in Horses
Hands in Horses

As you may (or may not) know, horses are measured in hands. And not everyone knows exactly what that means; we will clarify that for you. One hand = 4 inches. A “tall horse” to you does not mean it is 16+ hands. It could still very well be 15.1 hands. It’s important you actually know what it means to label a horse as 16 hands (or any other height for that matter) – otherwise that is false advertising. And if you are selling the horse you could potentially REALLY upset prospective buyers that show up and the horse is not as advertised. Also, those that know what hands mean, and see a 17H horse advertised that is clearly NOT, it drives us batty!!!

16 hands also is not the magic number, there are a LOT of adults that would fit MUCH better with a 15 hand horse, and even some adults that would fit better with a large pony! So please don’t let height be your only deciding factor on horse purchases.

So to clarify, before labeling your horse’s height – please bust out a measuring stick/tape/anything.

To break it down really quickly in a singular hand format:

.1 Hands = 1″ tall

.2 hands = 2″ tall

.3 hands = 3″ tall

.4 hands = this is NOT a thing.
.4 hands actually brings you to 1.0 hands. (which means .5, .6, .7, .8, .9 of a hand are also not a thing!)

Keep in mind: for showing purposes in many disciplines, ponies are often grouped into small, medium, and large sizes. Small ponies are 12.2 hands and under, medium ponies are over 12.2 but no taller than 13.2 hands, and large ponies are over 13.2 hands but no taller than 14.2 hands. Horses are ANYTHING over 14.2 hands.

There are, however, some caveats to this height rule to make it more confusing for us. If you are showing in a breed show, and you are showing Welsh Ponies; a 15.2 Welsh would still be considered a pony by breed standards(even though by typical height standards it would be a horse). Or if you are showing a 13.2 Paso Fino, it is still considered a horse in a breed show (even though by typical height standards it would be a pony). But if you are showing a 15.2 Welsh in a USEF/USDF Dressage show, it would be considered a horse because it meets the height standards.

Also, horses are measure at the withers (the ridge between the shoulders).

And this does not take into account mini horses. According to breed standards, the withers of an adult miniature horse are to not exceed 34 inches in height, and they are measured to the last mane hair VS the withers. You can find out more about Mini Horse measurements here.

Horse Height Chart

13.2 Hands 54″ tall (4 Foot 6 Inches)
137.11 cm
13.3 Hands55″ tall 135.12 cm
14 Hands56″ tall142.24 cm
14.1 Hands57″ tall143.25 cm
14.2 Hands58″ tall144.27 cm
14.3 Hands59″ tall145.28 cm
15 Hands60″ tall (5 Foot)152.40 cm
15.1 Hands61″ tall153.41 cm
15.2 Hands62″ tall154.43 cm
15.3 Hands63″ tall155.44 cm
16 Hands64″ tall162.56 cm
16.1 Hands65″ tall163.57 cm
16.2 Hands66″ tall (5 Foot 6 Inches) 164.59 cm
16.3 Hands67″ tall165.60 cm
17.0 Hands68″ tall172.72 cm
17.1 Hands69″ tall173.73 cm
17.2 Hands70″ tall174.75 cm
17.3 Hands71″ tall175.76 cm
18 Hands72″ tall (6 Foot)182.88 cm
18.1 Hands73″ tall183.89 cm