Growing Up: Estimating Adult Horse Size

There is no specific formula for estimating foals’ mature size that works in all instances.

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Growing Up: Estimating Adult Size in Horses
There is no tried and true method that is 100% accurate. Instead, we must look at the overall picture, beginning with genetics. | Photo:

You look at that little 14-hand cutting mare which you have decided to breed. She’s a dandy, you think, but just a little small for general ranch work or pleasure riding. So, you take her to that 16-plus-hand Thoroughbred in the next county and breed her. Eleven months later, you walk out to the barn and there in the stall is a newborn foal which has just struggled to its feet and is nursing for the first time.

You look at the wobbly, leggy little creature and wonder: Just how big will this youngster be when it grows up? You have heard about formulas for determining the size a foal will be as an adult, but you can’t remember just what they are.

Perhaps, you think, the newcomer will grow up to be taller than its dam, but not as tall as its sire. That is your hope and breeding goal

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Les Sellnow was a prolific freelance writer based near Riverton, Wyoming. He specialized in articles on equine research, and operated a ranch where he raised horses and livestock. He authored several fiction and nonfiction books, including Understanding Equine Lameness and Understanding The Young Horse. He died in 2023.

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