Average Horse Height: How Big Do They Get


A standard adult horse, on average, measures 14-17 hands at the withers, but some can exceed 18 hands while others can be as small as 8-9 hands depending on the breed. The largest horses in the world are the Draft horses that include the Clydesdale, Shire, Belgian, and Percheron, developed for carrying or pulling heavy loads. The smallest are the Miniature horse, Falabella, and Shetland pony that are quite strong and hardy for their size.

How to Measure Horse Height

How to Measure a Horse’s Height

The size of a horse is measured from the ground to the top of its withers by holding a height-measuring stick or height tape behind its front foreleg. It is represented in hands (abbreviated as hh) while the partial widths are denoted in inches. Therefore, a horse that measures 15.4 hands is 15 hands and 4 inches tall.

Size Chart: Average Height of Some Popular Breeds

Breed

Height

(hh)

Clydesdale

16-18

Cob

14-15

Miniature Horse

8.5-9.5

American Quarter Horse

14-17

Shire Horse

17-18
Mustang

14-15

Thoroughbred

15.2-17
Arabian

14.1-15.1

Haflinger

13-15
American Paint Horse

14.2-15.2

Interesting Facts

  • The Belgian gelding, Big Jake, standing at 20 hands 2.75 inches is the largest horse in the world alive.
  • The tallest horse ever recorded in the Guinness Book of Records was a 19-th century Shire gelding, Sampson (renamed Mammoth), which stood at 21.2 ½ hands.
  • A Dwarf Miniature named Thumbelina, measuring 4.25 hands is the world’s smallest horse.
  • Einstein, a Miniature Horse, holds the record of the smallest foal in the world that measured 3.5 hands at birth.