I get very annoyed at the way people exaggerate height in horses. Sometimes this is due to pure ignorance. At other times people add and inch ‘just to be sure’ I don’t know how many dozens of times I have encountered a horse that is ‘17 hands’ while in reality he is struggling to make 16.2. There is an ego thing going on about the magic ’17 hands’.
Between the heights of 15.2 and 16 hh an extra inch does not make a big difference to the horse. But, between 16 hh and 17 hh every inch is a huge difference in the overall frame of the horse. Often buyers will go to see a ‘16.2 horse’ for sale only to find he is struggling to make 16 hh. That is a big big difference. Furthermore some breeds measure 2 inches bigger than what they really are e.g. thoroughbreds with high whithers. When enquiring about a horse I ask the owner to give me a measurement on the rump, then I take off an inch. Then I am somewhere near it.
Because there is a popular misconception that measuring a horse is difficult and inherently inaccurate people give themselves the benefit of the doubt. Measuring accurately is not difficult and there is no excuse for getting height wrong by more than ¼ if an inch.
Get him on flat concrete, wait for him to stand naturally, put a builders spirit level on his whither and mark on a stick. Do this both sides. Do this 3 days in a row and I guarantee it will not vary by more than ¼ inch. If you have a horse where the neck comes directly out of the whither (eg, Clydesdales and some Arabs) DONT CREEP UP the NECK. That is cheating! Measure on top of the rump. That is your true height. If he measures 16.1 then that is his height. Don’t exaggerate by even ½ an inch.
How big is 17 hh?
This big: My eyes are at 16 hh
This guy is 17 hh on the rump. Most women could not mount him from the ground
Predicting mature height in the young horse