Feet…. Or Hands?
Horses and ponies aren’t measured in inches or even in feet, but in something called “hands.” One hand is equal to 4 inches, which is approximately the width of an adult’s palm, hence coining the term “hands.”
In order to measure the height of a horse, a special measuring stick is used to measure from the ground, straight up the horse’s front leg to the top of the withers. The withers is the highest portion of the horse located above the point of their shoulders as seen below.
Let’s say a horse is 14.3 hands. We read this as fourteen-three hands. Now, you may be wondering, “What’s the difference between a horse and a pony?” A horse is always taller than 14.2 hands and a pony is always 14.2 hands or shorter.
When you’re at the Fair and hear an equestrian call their horse 16 hands, you’ll know they aren’t talking about the parts of our bodies that we use to write and grasp objects, but rather the height of their horse!
Author: Mikara Anderson