Racehorse Weight

Horses Exercising

There has been a real focus on racehorse weight among trainers in recent years, with most trainers either utilising public weighing scales or investing in them for their training establishments. 

The weight of a racehorse determines how well we can expect them to run in a race but at present, their weight isn’t published on any racecard or racing site. We as an industry publish a horses draw, recent form, trainer, jockey, owner, breeder and the weight they will carry on their back. However not their actual weight so perhaps this is the next step to a fully transparent racing industry.

I have taken a look at some of the key factors that affect horses weight and in general what weight they should be. I have also included some interesting facts about racehorse weight and I hope you enjoy reading.

What weight are horses when they are born?

Newborn Foal

There are obviously numerous different weight brackets horses go through during their life and the first time we can check their weight is as a foal. Interestingly, foals weigh approximately 10% of their mother’s weight when they are born. That means the typical thoroughbred mare that weighs 1,000 pounds normally gives birth to a 100-pound foal. 

What affects the size of a foal?

The main factor determining the size of a foal is their time of birth. The normal gestation period is 340 days. So any foals born before this period tend to weigh less and after this timeframe weighs more. 

Another factor that can affect the size of the foal is if it’s the dam’s first foal. If so they tend to be smaller than more experienced mothers. 

What is the typical horse’s racing weight?

The typical weight of a racehorse is 1,100 pounds range from 900 pounds for a 15 hands horse to 1300 pounds for a 16.3 hands horse. 

How are horses weighed?

Horses are predominantly weighed using a livestock scale which horses walk onto and it shows their weight in the same way a scales for humans does.

How much is a weighing machine?

Like most products, there is a wide price range of weighing machine for horses with prices starting from around €650 upwards.

Horseboxes and Trucks

Alternative weighing method

Weighing scales for horses are very costly. The easiest way to weigh a horse is to use a public weighbridge. Load your horse on to a trailer and weigh the trailer. Then unload the horse and weigh the trailer again. Then you will know how much your horse weighs.

Who uses weighing machines?

Weighing machines have become very important in the thoroughbred industry in recent years with stud farms using them to weigh stallions, mares, newborn foals and their placenta when born. Vets would use them for similar reasons along with keeping a track on sick horses weight.

The main user of them nowadays is trainers who now use weight management as a key component of their training regime. Trainers will weigh a horse at the beginning of their training and track it until they reach an appropriate racing weight. A horses weight is crucial when determining their well-being before and after a race.

How can you manage a horses weight?

There are numerous ways to manage a horses weight with the main two ways being exercise and diet.

Exercise
Horses Exercising

This is mostly used by remaining horses in training weight but can also be managed with horses out of training by hand walking them or putting them on the walker. For horses in training, they also use the walker along with cantering on the gallop or using a swimming pool to manage weight.

Diet

This is used by everyone in the equine industry to manage weight with more feed given to horses in training usually with higher protein. Many horses out of training will be feed beet pulp and roughage e.g. Hay or Haylage.

What is more important a horses weight or a jockey’s weight?

Weighroom

So much talk surrounding a horses chances of winning a race is around how much weight they are carrying e.g the jockeys weight and the amount of weight in the lead bag. However, this is only academic if the horse’s weight isn’t low enough while being healthy to do themselves justice.

The weight they carry is, of course, a factor once the horse is a nice racing weight themselves but if you put virtually no weight on their back but they themselves are overweight, they won’t be winning any races. 

Racehorse weight has become an integral part of training and a recent high-level example of this came at the Royal meeting last week. Blue Point landed a high profile sprinting double by winning the Kings Stand and Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Charlie Appleby said prior to the Diamond Jubilee that his stable star was exactly the same weight that morning as he was before the King Stand which meant he had taken the race well and he was ready to run to the same level again.

The smallest horse ever

The smallest horse in the world weighed just 9 pounds.

The heaviest horse ever

It’s difficult to truly establish who the heaviest horse in the world was but many agree with was a Shire horse called Sampson. He stood an unreachable 21.212 hands (86.5 inches, 220 cm) high by the time he was four years old and was renamed Mammoth. .At his heaviest, he is said to have weighed an estimated 3,360 lb (1,524 kg).

Interesting Facts:

  • The head of the horse is responsible for 10% of its total body weight.
  • For a horse to be able to maintain healthy body weight, it needs about 1-2% of its weight in feed every day.
  • Horses can’t throw up.
Racehorse Weight
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