Thursday, March 13, 2014

What Is A "Hand"?

If you hang out with horse people you'll hear the word "hands" or the phrase "hands high" bandied around.

"He's about sixteen hands." "That pony's about thirteen two."

A hand is the traditional unit in which the height of a horse is measured. It is still used in some English speaking countries, including the US, and was based on the width of a man's hand, but was long ago standardized into four inches.

In writing, hands is often abbreviated to "hh" for "hands high," so if you look at horse ads you may see 15.2hh or 14hh. The decimal point indication does not refer to standard decimals. Instead, the number after the point indicates how many inches over the whole hand. So, 15.2 is the same as "fifteen and a half." You might sometimes see 15.5 hands - that's not correct terminology and makes real horsepeople wince.

In metric countries and in international competition, horses are measured in centimeters.

The other exception to the use of hands in measurement is miniature horses and extremely small equines, who are measured simply in inches.

No comments:

Post a Comment