A Look at Different Horse Heights

An introduction to how horses are measured and how different breeds vary in size.


There are hundreds of breeds of horses in the world and so many different sizes. There are horses small enough to fit on your couch and horses so tall you would need a ladder in order to touch their ears. But if you’re new to horses, learning all the different breed heights can be a real challenge. What makes Miniature Horses miniature, compared to a pony? How big is a draft horse, compared to a Thoroughbred? And what is a ‘hand,’ anyway? Luckily, we’re here to help.

Watch a video demonstrating how to measure a horse’s height >>

Explore the infographic below and take a fun look at the different average heights of some common horse breeds and how they compare to each other—there’s a wide range of sizes in the equine world!

Click image to view larger
Horse Sizes


Note: The two Miniature Horse registries, the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) and the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR), have different criteria for measuring Miniature Horses. The AMHA will not register a horse of a height over 34” tall, while the AMHR has two separate categories of sizes; horses under 34”, and horses between 34” and 38”. All registered Miniature Horses will be under 38” tall.

This article about horse heights is a web exclusive for Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!


  1. And here i enplane the height of my horses as counter height, bar height, rideable and too tall to see over…. and oh he is horse height when he stands up straight but when he slouches he is a pony.

  2. The last hair of the mane is where the withers are are you that dense about horse anatomy. You measure at the highest point of the withers.I hate it when on internet some people especially the English think a hand is 5 or 6 inches.example 14.5.

  3. Hey mary, us english measure a hand at 4″. No idea where u got the idea that we measure a hand at any other length. Obviously speaking to none horsey people or those new to the equine experience!

  4. I think that when I hear a measurement such as, 14.5, they really mean 14.2, since ,5 usually means 1/2. So half of 4 is 2, therefore 14.5 would mean 14-2hhs.

  5. Umm, no Quarter Horses on this chart??? That’s cool. I see how it is. Discriminate against one of the most popular horse breeds in the world.

  6. The article might also have mentioned that “ponies” are 14.2 or under. @ Kathy: It’s nice to see a fellow Delawarean here — especially one who’s practically a neighbor.

  7. Kylie – paint is a breed. Pinto is the color. If a horse has either Quarter horse or Thoroughbred blood with pinto markings it is a paint. If an Arabian had pinto spots, it would not be a paint since it is not QH or Thoroughbred.

  8. True baroque Friesian horses are 15hh. The preferred height of the Roman legions. New Friesians are becoming 16-17hh with longer legs and backs. Sporty.

  9. Our varnished red leopard Appaloosa, “General Grant” is 15.2 hh and our OTTB slaughter rescue, “Leah Grace” is 17.2 hh

  10. Hi my name is star i’m 12. I think that this sight is perfect because it gives me enough info to make a great school article. I also used this site to figure out a horses face and leg marking. So please no fighting verbaley because this sight is open to young children like me. 😉 Also not to be rude but will you try making all these comments work like the shires commet and the smaller poney commet……..THANK YOU………. 🙂

  11. I would like to use the horse graphic above, but noticed it is copyrighted. Would Emily be okay with selling a copy of the image to use on a poster/sign?

  12. I took the chart as an example, not an exhaustive list of all horse breeds my fave—Percheron are commonly 17 hands as are Friesians. I was an Eventer who road off track thoroughbreds that were at least 16hands. My last was 17.5 hands.

    Missing more than charted seems the best indicator of talking range of heights. Gypsy Vanners, Moor ponies, so many others we could add. The article made the point

  13. Also, the height of the Arabian is wrong. Some arabians, purebreds, can be as tall as 16 hands. They don’t stop at 15 hands. For example, my 3 year old gelding is already taller than 15 hands. He could easily top out at 16 hands like his grandsire was.


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