Your yearling horse's physical condition, combined with his weight, provide a good indicator of whether he is developing appropriately. A yearling who is too heavy risks stressing and damaging the still-growing bone structure in his legs. A yearling who is not receiving the nutrition he needs may become stunted.
A yearling is a horse who is between 1 and 2 years old. To accurately determine a yearling's correct size and weight, you need to have a good idea of when your foal's actual birthday is. Your horse is a true yearling when he is between 12 and 24 months of age. Most breed organizations. though, consider horses 1 year old on the first January 1 after they were born, regardless of when the horse's birthday actually occurred. This means a horse born January 2, 2012, and one born November 30, 2012, both became yearlings January 1, 2013. Obviously, a big difference exists in the size and condition of these two young horses. Reputable breeders try to make sure their foals are born as close to the beginning of the year as possible, but accidents do happen.
According to the State Government of Victoria Department of Primary Industries, the average 12-hand horse in good physical condition should weigh roughly 550 pounds. A 13-hand horse should weigh approximately 760 pounds. A 14-hand horse should weigh approximately 870 pounds. A 15-hand horse should weigh 1,015 pounds; a 16-hander roughly 1,115 pounds. A horse may weigh slightly more or slightly less depending on the breed and bone structure of the horse. Draft horses can weigh upwards of 2,000 pounds; miniature horses rarely weigh more than 200 pounds fully grown.
According to Smart Pak Equine, the average horse between 12 and 24 months old weighs around 550 pounds. An average yearling is normally between 10 and 14 hands tall, depending on how large he will mature to be. While you can measure adult horses more or less accurately with a weight tape, it's a lot more difficult to get a yearling's accurate weight using a tape. The best way to weigh a yearling is to put him on a scale. Since most people do not have horse scales, they weigh their trailer empty and weigh it again with the yearling inside it, and subtract the weight of the unloaded trailer from the weight of it loaded.
A Healthy Yearling
The health and physical condition of your yearling are more important than the exact weight. Your yearling should be sleek and healthy. His neck should appear to be firm and fleshy, without excess fat on the crest. His ribs should be covered by fat, not easily seen; but you should be able to feel his ribs when you apply gentle pressure. His hindquarter should be well-rounded without being bony or so fat that the back forms an indention. If you are unsure whether your yearling is a healthy size, have your veterinarian come out and perform a health check. Your veterinarian can help you adjust your feeding regimen to bring your horse to an adequate weight.
- Oklahoma State University: Managing Young Horses for Sound Growth
- University of Minnesota: Nutrition of the Weanling and Yearling Horse
- State Government of Victoria Department of Primary Industries: Condition Scoring and Weight Estimation of Horses
- Smart Pak Equine: Ready, Steady, Grow - Feeding Young Horses
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.