When do Horses Stop Growing? Life Cycle of a Horse

When Do Horses Stop Growing

Cute Foal In Pasture

On average, a horse stops growing at four to five years old. At two years old, it’s already grown 95% of its total growth. Larger breeds of horses like draft horses can grow until they are 8 years old. Factors that determine horse growth are breed, health, and diet.

After extensive research on the subject, this article has everything you need to know regarding when do horses stop growing. I’ve provided figures on each growth stage in the horses’ life as well.

Once the maximum height is attained within four to eight years depending on the horse, it will grow a bit wider and fill out with more muscle as well. The total growth time for a horse in terms of height, width, muscle, and emotional maturity can be rounded off to eight years old.

A fully grown horse can be 14–17 hands tall. This translates to 56–68 inches (142–178 cm) in height. The weight of a horse is generally 840 to 1,210 lb (380 to 550kg) However, the horses’ diet has an impact on these figures as well, for example:

After eight to ten weeks of age, high-quality grain and forage can be fed to a foal to increase the speed and size of its growth. Any horse that receives extra nutrients through high-quality grains and forages throughout its life will grow quicker and bigger than a horse that lives mostly off pasture grass and hay.

How Much Will a Horse Grow After 1-Year-Old? “Yearling Stage”

Foal Horse 6

At this young age, your horse has already grown up to 90% of its total height and weight. Yearlings can put on as much as 3 lbs (1.4 kg) of weight per day. This is the quickest growth stage and there isn’t that much growing to do after this. Just slow and steady growth, you’ll probably only notice this growth if you only see the horse seasonally.

How Much Will a Horse Grow After 2 Years Old?

At two years old, your yearling now becomes either a colt(male) or filly (female). In my experience horses at this age have usually grown up to 95% of their full adult height so you can expect around 5% additional growth in total after just two more years!

I normally see a 5% increase in growth from years two to five and then a bit of filling out in muscle in years five to eight.

How Much Will a Horse Grow After 3 Years Old?

Yearling Horse

Still referred to as colts and fillies, the average additional growth expectation of a 3 year old horse is less than 5% of its current height. On average, the horse will only be growing in height for another one or two years and it won’t be very noticeable.

They will still grow in width and muscle for another three to four years, but not by that much. At this stage, they are usually at least 96% of their total weight and height. This is applicable to most horses, including quarter horses.

How Much Will a Horse Grow After 4 Years Old?

At 4 years old, your colt or filly now becomes your stallion (male) or mare (female) Normally a horse will not grow more than five percent of its current height. They will still fill out in width and muscle for a few years, though.

If it’s a Draft horse or Arabian, it can still grow for another two or three years before maxing out on height. Most horses are fully grown in all regards, height, width, and muscle, after seven to eight years.

Height and Weight of Horses at Different Life Stages/Age

Foal

Any horse under 1 year of age is referred to as a foal. 

Height: A newborn foal is usually around five to seven hands tall, about half the height of its mother. That’s around 20–28 inches (50cm–71cm) in height. 

Weight: A newborn foal weighs between 76 lbs (34kg) and 108 lb (49kg) normally around 10% of its mothers’ weight. 

Bonus fact: A foal that is still nursing is called a suckling, and a foal that is still being weaned is called a weanling. Most foals have completed the weaning process within four to seven months from birth.

Yearling

Any horse between 1 and 2 years of age is referred to as a yearling. 

Height: A yearling grows to around thirteen hands tall or 95% of its total expected growth. That’s around 52 inches (132cm) in height. Horses grow most of their height in the yearling stage of their life. Like a child growing from 7 to 17 years old. 

Weight: A fresh yearling weighs around 550 lbs (250 kg) and then can double in growth in that year. The growth rate starts decreasing after this time period. 

Bonus Fact: Yearlings can put on as much as 3 lbs (1.4 kg) of weight per day!

Colt

Two Young Colts

A male horse under four years old is referred to as a colt. 

A new colt has already grown to at least 96% of its total size. This is where they will start to fill out with muscle more noticeably. 

Height: A colt is almost fully grown and can be at least 12–15 hands tall. This translates to 48–60 inches (122–152 cm) in height. 

Weight: A new colt at two years of age is at least 750 to 1089 lb (340 to 494 kg)

Filly

A female horse under four years of age is referred to as a filly. 

A new filly has already grown to at least 96% of its total size. 

Height: A Filly is normally a bit smaller than a colt but still around 11–14 hands tall. This translates to 44–56 inches (112–142 cm) in height. 

Weight: A new filly at two years of age weighs at least around 675 lb to 980 lb (306 to 445 kg)

Stallion

A non-castrated male horse four years old and older is referred to as a stallion. 

Height: A stallion is generally considered fully grown in height and is about 14–17 hands tall. This translates to 56–68 inches (142–178 cm) 

Weight: The weight of a stallion is generally 840 to 1,210 lb (380 to 550kg)

Mare

Female horses four years and older are referred to as mares. 

Height: A mare is generally considered fully grown and is about 13–16 hands tall. This translates to 52–64 inches (132–162 cm) in height. 

Weight: The weight of a mare is at least 756 to 1089 lb (344 to 495kg)

Gelding

A castrated male horse of any age is referred to as a gelding. 

Height: A gelding is generally considered fully grown and is about 14–17 hands tall. This translates to 56–68 inches (142–178 cm) in height. 

Weight: The weight of a gelding is at least 840 to 1,210 lb (380 to 550kg)

A Healthy Diet for a Growing Horse

Foal

Foal Horse 2

Suckling – An average suckling foal will consume about 33 pounds (15 kg) of milk daily. After a few days, the young suckling starts following their mothers’ example and nibbles a bit on the grass. This is what we call the start of the weaning process, where the young foal starts learning to eat from the land. 

Weanlings – Weanlings will start to consume 3% of their body weight in dry matter per day, and at this growth stage they are receiving the most important nutrients of their life. Nutrition is of paramount importance, as this is the age when the skeleton is most vulnerable to developing disease or disorders.

Weanlings need a considerable amount of energy in their diet to support their rapid growth. A lack of energy in their diet will stunt their growth and too much energy may cause them to grow unnaturally fast. Both of these scenarios should be avoided. 

Protein – A high-quality protein intake is essential for muscle, ligament, and tissue development. An adequate amount of protein is required each day to ensure a healthy, natural growth pattern. 

Diets that are low in two specific essential amino acids, lysine, and threonine, will stunt the growth rate and decrease the nutritional intake in young, growing horses. Lysine should account for just over 4% of the weanlings’ total protein intake.

Minerals Weanlings require an ample supply of minerals, most importantly calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper. These are necessary for proper bone development.

However, supplementing too much or too little must be avoided to prevent developmental orthopedic diseases. I advise working with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to ensure a weanlings’ mineral needs are being met.

Monitor your foal’s growth:

Foal Horse 1

Monitoring the average daily gain, wither height, and hip height can be invaluable in making sure your foal is growing in a healthy fashion. By monitoring these on a weekly basis, you can show your veterinarian the results and changes can be made in the diet accordingly to maintain a level plane of growth.

You will need a horse height and weight measuring tape like this one They are very inexpensive and handy to keep around the barn. When purchasing one, make sure it is easily readable and that the tape measure can be fixed if it begins to wear. A classic tape measure will also work in a pinch.

Osteochondrosis (OCD)

This is the result of defective maturation of cartilage into bone during growth–cartilage that does not ossify properly and doesn’t reach sufficient maturation or strength.

OCD has no specific clinical signs or symptoms and so it may not be apparent even with clinical observation. X-rays are the best way to determine if a horse is suffering from OCD. Although more subtle OCD lesions may still not be apparent. In less severe cases, OCD can heal itself over time.

Physitis

This is the inflammation of the growth plate. Similar to OCD, a foal may have minor physitis without any obvious clinical signs. Clinical signs that can make it more apparent might include an hourglass appearance of the fetlock joint or a bony ridge above the carpus. If these signs are observed, X-rays will be needed to determine the severity of the physitis.

Cervical compressive myelopathy

This is the compression of the spinal cord due to either instability of the vertebral column or narrowing of the spinal canal. Horses that suffer from this disorder are more commonly referred to as “wobblers”. There are many factors that can cause a horse to become a wobbler, as balance is affected by many different factors.

Angular limb deformities (ALD)

ALD is easier to identify as the limb or limbs do not rest on the normal weight-bearing axis. The limbs may be angled towards or away from the horse’s body. ALD can be present from birth or develop over time.

Flexural limb deformities (FLD)

This is also visually obvious, as you will see the legs of the horse will be partially flexed. This occurs when the functional length of the tendon is not sufficient to maintain the limb in its normal extension. Clinical signs would be an abnormal upright stance and a knuckling at the fetlock.

Club Feet

Club feet have smaller, steeper angles compared to a normal hoof. Club feet can be inherited, due to decreased weight-bearing, the result of injury, or flexural deformities involving the deep digital flexor tendon.

Common causes of DOD

  1. Genetic predisposition
  2. Biomechanical trauma
  3. Stress on bones due to inappropriate exercise or obesity
  4. Abnormal rapid growth
  5. Inappropriate or imbalanced nutrition

When do Thoroughbred, Paint and Quarter Horses Stop Growing?

Quarterhorse Foal And Mare

On average, these horses stop growing in height after four to five years of age. They can grow up to 14–17 hands tall or 56–68 inches (142–178 cm) in height. The weight of a quarter horse is 840 to 1,210 lb (380 to 550kg) After five years they will grow in width and muscle for two or three more years and sometimes gain a little extra height as well.

When do Arabian Horses Stop Growing?

With Arabian horses, they grow for a bit longer and usually grow bigger than other horses. Many Arabian horses grow even in height up to the age of eight years. A long time for a big horse.

When do Miniature Horses Stop Growing?

Miniature horses can be fully grown within one to two years! I suppose they don’t have much growing to do so it’s pretty quick.

What’s the Biggest Horse in the World?

Big Jake the Belgian Gelding horse has earned worldwide fame for his extraordinary height. Standing (without shoes) at a majestic 20 hands 2.75 inches (210.19 cm), he officially became the Tallest horse living when measured on 19 January 2010 until his death in June of 2021.

What’s the Smallest Horse in the World?

Thumbelina (born May 1, 2001) is a dwarf miniature horse and the world’s smallest horse. She stands 17 inches (43 cm) tall and weighs 57 lb (26 kg), and received the title of world’s smallest from Guinness World Records.

A Table of 19 Horses With Full Growth Ages

Different Breeds Years to Full Height Growth 
QuarterhorsesFour to Five Years 
Thoroughbred Horses Four to Five Years 
Paint Horses Four to Five Years 
Tennessee Walker Six to Eight Years
Morgan Four to Five Years 
Appaloosa Four to Five Years 
Miniature Horse One To Three Years
Warmblood  Four to Five Years 
Andalusian  Four to Five Years 
Hackney  Four to Five Years 
Belgian Draft HorseSix to Eight 
Shetland Pony One To Three Years
Gypsy Vanner Four to Five Years 
Friesian Five to Eight Years 
Clydesdale Four to Five Years 
Haflinger Four to Five Years 
Paso Fino Four to Five Years 
Arabian Horses Five to Eight Years 
Welsh Pony One to Three Years 

Wrapping It All Up

When do horses stop growing? A horse’s growth is determined by many different factors that will affect the lifespan of a horse. Horses can grow in height for four to five years and then after that they tend to gain weight or width for two or three more years before stopping their growth altogether.

The 14 Largest Horse Breeds In The World

14 Largest Horse Breeds In The Wor

What is the largest horse breed in the world? The answer may surprise you. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the 14 largest horse breeds in the world. We’ll talk about their origins, how they are used, and other interesting facts about these amazing horses!

Shire Horse

Large Shire Horse

The largest horse breed in the world is actually a bit of a surprise! The shire horse comes from England, and was bred as an all-purpose farm animal. They were used for plowing fields, moving heavy objects around the farm, and pulling carriages on their knees.

The size and dimension of this horse making them ideal for farm work rather than battlefront conditions. Today these horses are raised mainly for show despite still being incredibly strong and powerful creatures with high endurance levels compared to similar breeds like Clydesdales or Belgians.

The largest Shire horse on record weighed in at a whopping 2660 pounds! These horses stand anywhere from 16-17 hands tall, and can weigh up to 2000 kilograms (or almost half a ton).

Their coloring is usually bay, black, or brown, but they can also be grey.

The breed was also used for military purposes throughout the 1800s, but because of their gentle nature they were more popular as carriage pulling animals than actual warhorses. They were known by other names such as “Beef Steak” during this time period due to their sheer size and power.

There are still many farms that raise Shire horses in the UK and other parts of Europe, but they aren’t as popular or common as breeds like Clydesdales and Belgians.

This breed is known for having a very calm temperament, which makes them perfect family pets! Shires also have an incredibly long lifespan – some can live up to 50 years old!

Clydesdale

Large Clydesdale

Clydesdales were bred to do heavy work, and today they still have the strength to live up to their name. They were originally bred in Clydesdale, Scotland but are now more popular in America than anywhere else.

The largest horse show for them is held annually at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis, WI which attracts over 20,000 visitors each year!

The size and dimension of this horse breed are very impressive. Clydesdale horses stand at least 16 hands tall, which is equivalent to 64 inches or 164 centimeters! Clydesdale coloring is usually bay, black, or chestnut.

Clydesdale coloring is usually bay, black, or chestnut.

Today their largest fan base can be found in America where they participate as show horses and parade animals during holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day.

They are also very popular in the beer industry because of their calm temperaments which allow them to calmly lead tourists on tours at breweries!

One surprising fact about these gentle giants is that many people think all Clydesdales are gray but there’s actually no such thing as a true ‘gray’ horse.

The color comes from the presence of black skin underlying white hair; any dark-colored gene will work with this condition (called melanism). Many times you’ll see coat colors such as bay, black or brown in Clydesdales.

A Clydesdales Life span is about 20 years.

Clydesdales live in over 30 countries and can be found all around the world! If you love big, gentle horses with a sense of calm temperament then this is definitely the breed for you!

Percheron

Percheron Horse

Percherons were originally bred in France and were used to pull heavy wagons and carriages. They are commonly known as the ‘king of draft horses’ because they have so much potential for hard work!

Percherons size is impressive! They stand at least 17 hands tall, which is equivalent to 68 inches or 173 centimeters and sometimes even taller and can weigh up to 2600 pounds! They are excellent at pulling and can pull about three times their body weight.

Percheron coloring is usually black, grey or bay.

Their largest fan base is found in America where they participate heavily as show horses. They are also are used as parade horses during events like Memorial Day and Independence Day.

Percherons perform well at shows because of their calm temperament which makes them ideal for parades, weddings, or any other situation where they would be expected to stand for long periods of time.

Belgian Draft

Belgian Draft Horse

Belgian Draft horses are known for their impressive size and imposing presence! They are commonly used as farm horses because of the hard work they can do.

Belgian Drafts stand at least 17 hands tall, which is equivalent to 68 inches or 173 centimeters and sometimes even taller. They can weigh up to 2000 pounds.

A typical Belgian Drafts life span is about 20 years. The majority of Belgian Drafts are a chestnut color with Flaxen mane and tails.

Belgian drafts have great temperaments so they are perfect for parades, weddings or any other situation where you would expect them to stand still for long periods of time.

They were originally bred from Flanders draft horse bloodlines but today there are many different types including crosses between Percherons and Clydesdales!

The largest breed show in the world is held every year at the Wisconsin State Fair Park and it attracts over 20,000 visitors each year! If you’re looking for a powerful work horse then look no further than this majestic animal!

Dutch Draft

Dutch Draft Horse

Dutch Draft horses are thought to be one of the largest horse breeds in the world. They are very strong and have a calm temperament, making them ideal for pulling large loads or other farm work. The Dutch Draft horse is also known as an “English Shire Horse.”

Possibly originated from Friesland, North Holland around 1000 AD where people bred horses with shaggy coats that were big boned but not heavily muscled.

These draft horses were used by farmers during planting season since they could pull great weights without tiring quickly. As time went on, the breed became even larger until they reached their present-day size!

Dutch Draft horses can reach up to 16 hands in height and weigh up to 1700 pounds. Their life span is about 20 years. Their coloring is gray, bay or at times black

If you love big gentle horses with a sense of calm temperament then this breed might be right up your alley!

Suffolk Punch

Suffolk Punch Horse

Suffolk Punches were originally bred in Great Britain and are very calm horses that make fantastic farm animals.

They stand at least 17 hands tall and they can weight up to 2100 pounds making them one of the largest horse breeds around today and can live up to 25 years! Their coat is primarily Chestnut with 7 recognized shades.

They are one of the strongest horse breeds in the world and are also very intelligent!

They are used for farming purposes but have also gained popularity as show horses. They tend to be “head strong” which means they can get easily distracted.

They are very powerful and can be hard to handle because of their strong temperament but if you’re looking for a horse that is calm, intelligent, and great with farm work then this might be the perfect horse for you.

Australian Draught

Australian Draught Horse

The Australian Draught country of origin is not known because it is a blend of many different breeds including the Shire, Clydesdale and Suffolk Punch, and Suffolk Punch.

This breed was originally used as an all-around farm horse but has now gained popularity as a show horse in Australia!

They stand at least 16 – 17 hands tall and can weigh up to 1900 pounds. Their coloring can be Black, White, Brown,or Gray. They have long necks that lead into a sloped shoulder making them very muscular looking horses! Their lifespan is about 20 years.

This horse is very calm and easy to handle which makes it great for farm work but they are also used in shows due to their intelligence and athleticism.

If you’re looking for a powerful workhorse then this might be the perfect animal for you since they are strong, intelligent, and obedient! Plus their size makes them ideal for pulling heavy carts around your property without tiring too easily.

Boulonnais

Boulonnais Horse

Boulonnais horses are very powerful and can weight up to 1800 lbs. This breed is also known as the largest horse in France! Known as the White Marble Horse, this horse has a very muscular body, short legs with dense bone structure. They can measure between 15 and 16 hands.

The Boulonnais was used as a war-horse during battles throughout history dating back to ancient Rome and Greece where it is believed they were bred.

They are very strong and muscular which makes them great horse for pulling heavy objects around your property but they also tend to be headstrong making it difficult to handle.

If you’re looking for a powerful animal that is easy going then this might not the right breed for you! But if you can appreciate an intelligent, hardworking, large horse with a muscular body then this might be the perfect horse for you!

Jutland

Jutland Horse

The Jutland was originally bred in Denmark over 2000 years ago but quickly gained popularity throughout Europe during the Middle Ages because of their strength and intelligence. They were highly sought after by people who needed horses to pull carts through cities or on farms.

Jutland horses are very strong and can be used as a work horse due to their ability to pull great weights. They stand at least 16 hands tall and can weigh between 1400 and 1800 pounds.

They have a short neck that leads into a straight shoulder and are known for their power and strength. They can live up to 25 years if taken care of properly.

If you love big gentle horses with a sense of calm temperament then this breed might be right up your alley! This large animal will surely turn heads wherever he goes due to his impressive size and friendly personality.

Russian Heavy Draft

Russian Heavy Draft Horse

The Russian Heavy Draft is one of the largest horse breeds in the world! They can stand to 15 hands tall which is equivalent to 59 inches or 152 centimeters and can weigh between 1100 to 1500 pounds. They can live up to 30 years!

Selective breeding during the later half of the 1800’s at the Petrovsky Agricultural and Forestry Academy in Moscow led to the creation of this breed.

Their coloring tends to range from chestnut brown to dark bay, and they are known for their thick dense manes.

They have a deep, broad chest that leads into short legs with dense bone structure making them very muscular looking horses! They are known for their intelligence and willingness to work which makes them great for farm work but also can be used in pulling heavy objects around your property without getting tired easily.

Lithuanian Heavy Draught

Lithuanian Heavy Draught Horse

The Lithuanian Heavy Draught Horse is another of the largest horse breeds in the world! In the late 1900’s the Lithuanian Heavy Draught was developed by breeding Zhmud mares with Percheron, Brabant, and Ardennes.

They are very muscular with a large head and short legs making them stand at least 16 hands tall.

Their weight can range from 1100 pounds all the way up to 2000 pounds depending on their build! Their coloring can be Black, Bay, Gray, and Chestnut.

These horses are very powerful and can be used for farm work or pulling carts because of their strength. They have a thick dense mane, short legs with strong bone structure which makes them look muscular!

American Cream Draft

American Cream Draft Horse

The American Cream Draft Horse is an American breed of horse that was originally bred for use in the logging industry. The horse’s origins are traced back to the Welsh Cobs, which were brought to New England during the colonial era. Ever since, they have been used by farmers for general work purposes and by loggers to haul logs.

The height of an American Cream Draft Horse is approximately 16.2 hands at the withers. They can weigh up to 1800 pounds. Their coloring is an unusual but beautiful cream color known as Gold champagne.

This unique coloring is the result of the champagne gene mixing with the Chestnut coat. The diluted color is produced by the champagne gene which causes the gold champagne color of the body including light skin and eyes. The mane ends up an ivory color.

This breed was created in the early 20th century and are mild mannered which is great for those owners new to handling large draft horses.

Friesian

Friesian Horse

The Friesian horse is one of the largest equine breeds, historically used for heavy farm work. They were first produced in the Netherlands, and their largest population of purebreds can be found there today.

The horses are commonly black or dark brown, but sometimes they are chestnut, bay, gray, dun, palomino or cremello. The largest horse of this breed stands at 17 hands and can weigh up to 1500 pounds.

They have short legs, a well-muscled body that is broad and deep with powerful shoulders making them very attractive animals!

These horses are used for a variety of purposes including as a war horse or for leisure activities and have been used for centuries as an important asset to farmers who need them to pull heavy carts, plow fields, and take part in other activities that require strength.

They are known to be intelligent which makes them great horses for those who want to take part in dressage due to their ability to learn quickly and willingness to work.

Comtois Horse

Comtois Horse

The Comtois breed originated in the Jura Mountains along the French and Swiss border. They are a heavy horse standing between 14 and 16 hands and can weigh upwards of 1700 pounds. Thier coloring can be Black, chestnut, bay, black silver, or bay silver.

They are an older breed of horse believed to have descended from horses brought over in the 6th century by the Burgundians who were an early German tribe. During the middle ages they were used as war horses.

Comtois horses have big heads, straight necks and very muscular backs with a deep wide chest. They can pull very heavy loads with their beefed up legs and powerful backs and shoulders.

Today Comtois Horses are the most numerous heavy horse breed in France used primarily for draft and farm work. They are known to be a calm, easy going breed that loves children.

Biggest Horses In History

Big Jake

Big Jake Worlds Tallest Horse

Now that we’ve looked at some of the largest breeds of horse in the world, let’s talk about horses with a big history!

One example is Big Jake. He was recognized as the largest living horse in the world, standing 20 hands tall and weighing nearly 2600b pounds until his death in 2021. Big Jake was born to normal sized parents which makes his size even more impressive since it’s rare for a draft horse to be over 17 hands tall. He resided at Smokey Hollow Farm in Poynette WI

Big Jake broke the world record for tallest living horse back in 2010 and held that record until his death in June 2021

Sampson

Sampson was a gelded Shire Horse that was born in Bedfordshire, England in 1846 and stood 21.25 hands tall, and having an estimated weight of more than 3300 pounds! He is the largest horse ever recorded. He is considered to be the largest horse that ever lived.

One Big Thing

As you can see, there are many different types of large horse breeds. Some of the most popular ones include Clydesdales and Shires which were used for pulling carriages or heavy loads in Europe, as well as Australian horses that have been bred to be strong enough to carry smaller animals on their backs over long distances. Which type of large horse do you prefer? Weigh in with your thoughts below!

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