Taking good care of our horses requires us to be aware of their weight. Are they putting on weight or are they beginning to lose weight? It is important that we are aware of how our horses look. When change is gradual it is harder to notice if all you are doing is using your eye. But, if you use measurement and math regularly, then you will spot any changes sooner.

One of the areas of a horse or pony’s body that accumulates fat is the neck, especially along the topline of the neck, or **crest**. Have you noticed some horses have a thick neck? Some breeds like Morgans, Arabians, some warmbloods and draft horses and ponies naturally have a more distinctive crest. In other cases, a horse just beginning to develop a cresty neck, may be a sign of a problem.

By taking measurements and using a simple math equation, you can assess if your horse or pony is at a healthy weight.

### Neck Circumference Measurement

The neck **circumference** is measured at ½ the distance between the poll and the withers with the neck held in a relaxed position. A horse’s height is measured from the ground to the withers.

These two numbers are then placed in a math equation to determine the neck circumference-to-height **ratio.** Once the math is complete, the **quotient** helps determine if the amount of fat accumulated in a horse’s neck falls within a normal range. A horse may be considered to have a “cresty neck” if the number is **>** 0.63 or, in the case of ponies, > 0.68.

ratio: ratio says how much of one thing there is compared to another thing. In this case we are comparing the circumference of a horse’s neck to its height. A ratio can be written as 3 : 4 (read as 3 to 4) or as a fraction 3/4.

quotient: The answer to a division problem is called the quotient.

>: greater than

### The Math Equation

Neck circumference (inches) ÷ Height at withers (inches) = Neck circumference to height ratio

Let’s take the Appaloosa to the left as an example. 36 inches is an average neck length for an average horse. Assume this horse has an average neck length.

**1. How far will you measure from the poll to find the halfway point of the neck?**

You take the measurement and find the neck circumference to be 38 inches.

You measure the horse’s height next and find her to stand 62 inches at the withers.

You now have your measurements. It’s time to plug them into the math equation and calculate the answer.

#### Neck circumference (38 inches) ÷ Height at withers (62 inches) = ?

**2. What is the neck circumference to height ratio for the horse above?**

**3. Is this horse’s neck circumference to height ratio < or > .63?**

That’s all there is to it. Try this with horses and ponies you know. Share your results in the comment box below!

Common Core:

3.OA.C.7 – Divide by 2

4.OA.A.2 – Divide by 2-digit numbers: word problems

6.RP.A.1 – Ratios: word problems

Photos:

Dagat-Geli by Artur Baboev; CC BY-SA 3.0

Draft Horse Head by heidimaria; public domain

Boss horse by Katie Brady; CC BY 2.0

Cavall a la reserva Nez Perce by JC i Nuria; CC BY-SA 2.0