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Horse length

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Title: Horse length  
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Subject: 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup, Horse racing, Bobs Worth, Never Say Die (horse), Gay Trip
Collection: Horse Racing, Units of Length
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Horse length

A horse length, or simply length, is a unit of measurement for the length of a horse from nose to tail, approximately 8 feet.[1]


  • Use in Horse racing 1
  • Other measures 2
  • Other uses 3
  • Abbreviations 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

Use in Horse racing

The length is commonly used in Thoroughbred horse racing, where it describes the distance between horses in a race. Horses may be described as winning by several lengths, as in the notable example of Secretariat, who won the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths (248 feet (76 m)). More often winning distances are merely a fraction of a length, such as half a length.

Other measures

Distances smaller than that are similarly described in reference to the equine body with terms such as a "neck",[2] and a "head", a "short head" or "nose", the smallest possible named advantage by which a horse can win. In the United Kingdom and Ireland a margin of more than 30 lengths is described as a "distance". In France the term "short neck" is used for a margin intermediate between a head and a neck. Harness race finishing margins are typically measured in meters.

Other uses

These terms are used in other disciplines of equestrianism as well, particularly useful as a guide for riders in spacing animals apart when a number of them are all together in a riding arena, such as during group riding instruction or at a horse show.


In reporting result of horse races winning margins are commonly abbreviated:

Margin Abbreviation
Nose nse
Short head sh
Head hd
Short neck snk
Neck nk
Half a length ½L
Three-quarters of a length ¾L
One length 1L
Distance dst

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
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