The highest point of the horse is the top of its head, which we now know is called the poll.


Horse heightAs horses can move their heads up and down a lot, it’s very difficult to measure their height from the ground to the poll.


So instead, a horse is measured from the ground to the top of his withers. Can you remember where the withers are? (Hint: have a look at points of the horse).


Horses are not measured in metres and centimetres in the UK, Ireland and the USA like we are. Instead, hands are the unit we use to measure horses.


So, what is a hand?


One Hand = four inches, or about 10cm. It is called a hand because it originally equated to the width of a man's hand.


If a horse is more than an exact number of hands high, the extra inches are given after a full stop. For example, 14 hands 2 inches is written as 14.2hh.


The average height of a thoroughbred is 16.0hh.


Have a look at the height chart to see how the horse grows from one month to four years of age.


Time line


The photos below show some different breeds of horse and their average heights:


Horse breeds & heights