Sunday, August 20

Four inches to a hand

Pictured here is a group of Percheron draft horses being led to the barn early Saturday morning. I included my wife in the crop to give the viewer a sense of scale (Jennifer is 5'3" tall). I was aware the "hand" measurement for horses, that is 4" to a hand. I learned also that the hands are measured from the ground to the withers, which is the top of the front shoulder.

Upon moving to the farm I was first introduced to the neighbor's quarter horses. Not accustomed to being around farm animals even quarter horses looked quite large to me. Coy Dan's horses are in the 14.5 to 15.5 hand range or about 5' to the top of the front shoulder. Add into that the length of the horse's neck and head and I have to look up a ways to see into the eyes of one of these beautiful animals.

When Jennifer started working at the local draft horse farm, she described the horses as very large, in the neighbor hood of 17 to 18 hands or 6' to the withers. I'm not sure why the hand measurement was created. To me it's confusing. Eighteen hands is a lot of hands to be sure, and of course it's only to the shoulder. But despite the accuracy of the measurement I still had a tough time trying to get a sense of how big the Percheron horses really are with the hand measurement. It would have been simpler for someone to tell me it's about 8 or 9 feet in the air to the top of their head. Now that sounds big. Add into that the weight (close to and sometimes over a ton) and you really get a sense of their size.

Incidentally, Jennifer has acquired a Percheron draft horse and we'll soon be bringing her home. Desapina, or Desi, and Socks will call our nearly completed coral and barn home (one more gate to hang). A complete post on the coral will follow it's completion including all of my very valuable fence and corral building lessons.

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1 comment:

meghann said...

Jason also thinks 'hands' are a funny measurement. When I told him my horse I had before going off to college was 17 hands he thought I meant 17 of my hands on top of one another. I'm not sure why or how the 'hands' measurement came I've got to google that.