Measuring Ponies: Laser Device Might Give More Accurate Height

A laser device for measuring horses and ponies might give more reliable and objective measurements than a traditional stick, researchers said. Ponies currently competing in Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) events must not measure more than 151 cm with shoes or 150 cm without shoes when measured at the event.

Researchers working on a recent study repeatedly measured 15 research horses and 38 ponies at home and at competitions.

"Using a laser device to measure the height at the withers of horses or ponies has the advantage that the measurer is not able to influence the outcome," the authors wrote.

A person can decrease the measurement slightly by pushing down on the horizontal arm of a measuring stick, but cannot do that with the laser device used in the study, a prototype made by Sensor Partners BV of The Netherlands.

"What surprised us was that the ponies tended to be higher at home compared with during competition. This was contrary to what was expected," said said Marianne M. Sloet van Oldruitenborgh-Oosterbaan DVM, PhD, Dipl. ECEIM, Specialist KNMvD Equine Internal Medicine. "That expectation was the reason why the FEI allows ponies to be slightly (2 cm) higher when they are measured during competition."

The study, "Measuring the height at the withers of ponies at a competition and at home using a laser device," will be published in the November edition of The Veterinary Journal. The abstract is available on PubMed.  

About the Author

Marie Rosenthal, MS

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