Tuesdays with Tony
Horses are high maintenance creatures, have you noticed? Way worse than us cats. They require a careful eye to make sure they stay healthy and in good condition. One of the ways you horse owners can monitor your horse’s health is to keep track of his weight.
Knowing how much your horse weighs will help you keep an eye on weight gain and weight loss through the seasons, so you can adjust his feed accordingly. If he is overweight, you probably know that he is at risk of developing laminitis – a serious concern. If he is underweight, you’ll have to figure out why. That could mean his diet needs to be changed, his teeth need attention, his worm load is too high, or several other health reasons. Keeping track of weight changes and making small adjustments early is definitely better than waiting until there are big, obvious health problems. It’s also important to know your horse’s weight so you can give medications such as dewormer correctly. You don’t want to overdose or underdose him.
But how to weight him? Unfortunately, you can’t just ask your horse to step on the bathroom scale. The good news is that there is an easy measurement you can do at home to get a pretty darn accurate weight for your horse. You may have seen my docs and techs do this when they come out to give your horse his vaccines. You can do it just as easily yourself! It doesn’t require any special equipment, just a flexible tape measure and a calculator (unless you really like long division). A metal tape measure isn’t bendy enough, but a fabric or plastic one with inch markings works great.
Here’s what you do:
- Stand your horse on a relatively flat surface. He should be standing “square”, with his legs placed evenly, not stretching one forward or back too much.
- Measure around your horse’s heart girth: Holding the “zero” end of the tape, place the other end of the tape over his back behind his withers (about where his mane ends). Reach under his belly and pull the end of the tape under his barrel about where the girth would sit. Bring the tape up to meet the end with the “zero”. The number on the weight tape where the “zero” meets is the heart girth number.
- Measure his length: Place the “zero” end of the tape at the center of his chest. Measure the length of his body straight back along his side to the crease between his muscles just below the point of his buttock.
- Plug your 2 measurements into this formula. Choose the right one based on whether he is an adult, a yearling, or a weanling.
Adult horse weight in pounds = heart girth x heart girth x length, and divide that number by 330.
Yearling horse weight in pounds = heart girth x heart girth x length, and divide that number by 301.
Weanling horse weight in pounds = heart girth x heart girth x length, and divide that number by 280.
To make it easier for you to see this in action, I had Dr. Yorke make a video on how to do the measurements. As the official Springhill Equine supervisor of all things, I made sure it was correct. You’re welcome.
If you weigh your horse every month and keep a chart, you’ll notice anything out of the ordinary. If that happens, you can give my docs a call to help you figure out what’s going on and find the appropriate solution.
Until next week,
P.S. While you’re on my YouTube channel, take a minute and look around! There is a ton of great information there. Lots of ‘how-to’ videos in addition to some really good seminars. See, I give you all of these resources, and all I ask in return is for a treat and a scratch around my ears. It’s a pretty good deal if you ask me.
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!