Horse Markings

You can tell a lot about a horse”s breed from its coat color, height, face markings and leg markings. Certain horse breeds develop distinct markings or colors in their coat, making a horse with those colors instantly identifiable with its breed. Other breeds are known for their heighteither their abundance or lack of it. Horse breeds are further characterized by distinct markings on the face or legs. There is terminology associated with all of these differences and you will need to know how to “talk the talk” if you want to blend in at the stables.

Horse Breed Coat Colors

Graphic table of coat colors.

Horse Face Markings

Graphic example of common face markings.

Horse Leg Markings

Graphic example of common leg markings.

How to Measure a Horse”s Height

A horse”s height is measured in hands. A hand is approximately 4 inches.

A horse that is 14.2 hands is 58 inches high, a horse of 14.3 hands is 59 inches high, and because sub-measurements do not exceed 0.3 in value, the next measurement would be 15 hands, or 60 inches.

Graphic example of how to measure the height of a horse.

Average Horse Heights

Everyone wants to know how tall their yearling will be when he or she reaches mature height. The truth is no method is 100 percent accurate. Some claim you can estimate a yearling”s mature height by measuring the distance from the coronary band to the middle of the knee, then changing inches to hands (i.e., a yearling who measures 14 inches may reach a mature height of 14 hands).

You can tell the most about a horse”s potential mature height by looking at his or her parents. Whichever parent the yearling”s body structure is most like indicates the probable height at maturity.

Here are some height averages by breed:

  • Arabian: 59.7 in (range 56 to 63 in); approximately 15hh
  • Quarter Horse: 59.3 in (range 57 to 61 in); approximately 15hh
  • Morgan: 60 in (range 56 to 63 in); approximately 15hh
  • Standardbred: 63 inches (range 60 to 66 inches); approximately 15.3hh
  • Thoroughbred: 63.78 inches (range 62 to 68 inches); approximately 16hh.