Talk:Hand (unit)

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a hand comprises three inch-long steps

Wouldn't a four-inch hand consist of four one-inch steps? Michael Z. 2006-09-21 23:05 Z


Note that Template:Hands is up and working. It renders standard measurements automatically:i.e. 15.1 hands (61 inches, 155 cm) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Montanabw (talkcontribs) 00:10, 23 August 2009

US mini people don't ever call them "ponies" it's a BIG BIG deal to them[edit]

(hidden text found in the article) Well, so what? The article is not telling anyone what they have to call things, it's about the hand as a unit of measurement. Also please note: the US is not the world; miniature ponies are so called in several places. So, are the "US mini people" people like these: "Our Ponies" or these: "Miniature Horses and Miniature Shetland Ponies of pedigree"? Maybe not such a big deal after all; and maybe no "Edit war potential, best to avoid", as suggested in the edit summary. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 10:00, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

Editing citing future edit wars does seem a little much. Any good with lottery numbers? (talk) 18:28, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
I have had the real life debate over this, truly, it IS best to avoid. But also, it's disrespectful to NOT use the status (horse or pony) the breeders themselves prefer. Shetlands are ponies, Shetlands that are of the proper bloodlines and tiny can be called mini-Shetlands, that's not the issue. The Miniature horse in the USA is a distinct breed registry, and other mini breeds are also called horses by those who breed them (the Falabella being another example). There are some mini-"pony" registries called such too, but they are the minority, have far fewer animals registered, and trust me, you do NOT want to be on the receiving end of a mini breeder's wrath should you dare to call them ponies! Been there, done that! =:-O
Let's just deal with that one when we come to it, OK? Where in Wikipedia does it say that we have to distort the facts in case some party gets angry? What happened to WP:Be bold? Meanwhile, perhaps you'd stop fiddling about with that bit of the text for a while? The miniature horses and ponies, miniature mules, donkeys and Shetlands are all individually referenced, there is no discussion of what those animals are or ought to be (though they should probably be linked, come to think of it), just of how they are measured. The "last hairs of the mane" thing is extremely confused and poorly documented, as a large number of sites identify this point with the withers. The Australian source is one of the few that are clear and specific (well, actually, it's the only one I was able to find that is). Besides, it would be disrespectful not to use it, right? Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 10:41, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm fine with leaving it out of this article as much as we can, but it's not "distorting" the facts -- the truth is, the ideal mini (a least in AMHA rules) IS supposed to look like a horse and not a pony. (Not many succeed, but that's a different debate) I define "respect" as giving careful consideration to what those who are involved firsthand prefer-- doesn't mean we obey in lockstep, but if reasonable, it's worthy of serious consideration. I agree with you on the mane hairs thing, personally, but it IS the standard of the largest mini association, the AMHA (and I've judged these little buggers, so I AM familiar with their rule book) it's true that they often have withers that are hard to find, and on wiki, that was a battle I lost with the mini people long ago. Montanabw(talk) 19:33, 5 July 2011 (UTC)


────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────So, yet another boring, childish and completely trivial edit war between Montanabw and me, over the section Hand (unit)#Use in measuring horses. Rather than just replacing the text that is actually based on the sources cited, which would doubtless be reverted yet again, I'm requesting a third opinion on this one, see if that gets us anywhere. Here the two versions:

I agree. This is a completely trivial manner. Just leave it "horses, ponies". There's no advantage to doing it the other way, and it's obviously controversial. This is your third opinion. Gigs (talk) 13:40, 14 July 2011 (UTC)

Current version, as desired by Montanabw[edit]

Use in measuring horses[edit]

Today the hand is used for measurement of the height of horses,[1] ponies, and other equines. It is used in a number of different countries, including the USA and some that have formally adopted the metric system, such as Australia, Canada, Ireland and the UK. In most countries of the world, including continental Europe, and in all FEI-regulated international competition, horses are measured in metric units, usually metres or centimetres. In some countries, such as South Africa, measurements may be given in both hands and centimeters.[1] [...] In those countries where hands are the usual unit for horse height, smaller equines are frequently measured in inches rather than hands, such as miniature horses/ponies[2] mini-mules,[3], many donkeys,[4] and Shetland ponies.[5] Miniature horses in the USA are measured at the base of the last true hairs of the mane rather than at the withers.[2]

Previous version, as repeatedly removed by Montanabw[edit]

Use in measuring horses[edit]

Today the hand is used only in measurement of the height of horses,[1] ponies, and other equines. It is used in a number of different countries, including the USA and some that have formally adopted the metric system, such as Australia, Canada, Ireland and the UK. In most countries of the world, including continental Europe, and in all FEI-regulated international competition, horses are measured in metric units, usually metres or centimetres. In some countries, such as South Africa, measurements may be given in both hands and centimetres.[1] [...] In those countries where hands are the usual unit for horse height, inches rather than hands are commonly used in the measurement of miniature horses, ponies[2] and mules,[3] of donkeys,[4] and of Shetland ponies.[5] Miniature horses, but not miniature ponies, may be measured at the base of the last true hairs of the mane rather than at the withers.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d "The "Hand" Measurement for Horses". Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario, Canada. Retrieved June 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d "Show Rules. Standards of Excellence: Miniature & Small Horse". Australian Miniature Horse & Pony Registry. Retrieved July 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ a b "About Miniature Mules". The American Miniature Mule Society. Retrieved July 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ a b "The Donkey". Government of Alberta: Agriculture and Rural Development. Retrieved July 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ a b Edwards, Elwyn Hartley (1994). The Encyclopedia of the Horse (1st ed.). London: Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0751301159.  p.176

I'd be interested and grateful to know the views of others on the small differences between the two, and on which best reflects the information given in the sources. If anyone can explain to me how the Australian association can be cited as a reference for a bit of (dubious) information about the USA, or why it seems so important to one editor to assert that particular bit of dubious information, I'd be doubly grateful. Some of the discussion further up this page may be vaguely relevant to the matter too. I apologise for drawing attention what appears to me to be a storm in a tea-cup. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 13:09, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

British English[edit]

In an attempt to stop childish warring over the spelling of metric units, and for no other reason, I placed a British English template on this talk page a few days ago, based on the establishment of that usage here. That template was removed by user Montanabw in this edit. Whether that is acceptable behaviour on this wiki I don't know. I'm not going to start yet another stupid game of ping-pong by replacing it, and am instead just asking here that people note the priority of European spelling in this particular article. Thank you, Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 13:33, 8 July 2011 (UTC)

I don't know if I really count as a third opinion, but I don't have particularly strong feelings about American of Commonwealth English (AE/CE). I consistently (try to) write and speak the former, but that's about it. As far as I'm concerned, there's really no "European English" that should automatically apply to anything other than the UK and Ireland. I'm sure an older generation of second language speakers and writers believe that, but I don't see that it's the case among a younger generation. If the article subject is about something clearly and narrowly associated with the Commonwealth countries, CE should be used. If it's an international topic, I would recommend using whatever variant was clearly employed first.
Btw, the article right now has both "centimetres" and "centimeters". That's definitely not a good idea, so I would at least recommend reverting to a certain variant consistently or not at all.
Peter Isotalo 17:38, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
The very first creator of this article was clearly an American, as there was no metric conversion. so the fix is in on both sides. I frankly am rapidly approaching the DGAF standard here, the existing article as it sits (even with that damn "only" which IMHO is just a snotty unneeded adjective) as of right now is livable, though I would prefer the US English version be used. Montanabw(talk) 23:17, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm not quite sure how you reached that conclusion. I see a pretty obvious metric conversion in that version and the original creator appears to be Norwegian.
What's this nonsense about "snotty", btw? Openly stating the specific use of a certain measurement is not being disparaging to anyone or anything. Unless, of course, you have proof that the modern hand actually has other uses.
Peter Isotalo 02:32, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
The article as it stands is very incomplete. There's a whole chunk missing on the difference between the hand and the handsbreadth, which is still discussed, if not actually used, in biblical interpretation; on Isaac Newton's calculation of the dimensions of the Temple of Solomon; and a good deal more in the same vein. It may be that Handsbreadth should eventually be spun off into a stub of its own. I'm also aware that there are too many quotations in the History section; I had intended to move some of those to footnotes. I stopped working on it because of the constant reversions by one editor. If that editor's DGAF becomes definitive then I'll go back to it and try to get a first draft done. The disparities in spelling are caused by the same history. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 13:40, 9 July 2011 (UTC)
Okay, I went through the tedious routine of checking almost the entire edit history, diff by diff, for any signs of style preferences. It's not super-clear-cut, but "centimetre" was used as early as 2004, if only as a link.[1] Since then, it has been consistently favored by other editors,[2] though their edits have not always stuck (for completely different reasons). As far as I can tell, Montana is so far the only editor who has editing the article specifically to adhere to American English, but this was only a few days ago. Before that, the Commonwealth spelling has generally not have been noticed at all,[3] and when it finally was, it wasn't even done consistently.[4]
Even as a proponent and regular user of American English, I would consider this enough to settle the issue. It boils down to simply evoking a minor technicality in the guidelines, but considering that it would otherwise require lengthy outside comments, an RfC, or (heaven forfend) a consensus vote, I think it's enough to confirm this as a Commonwealth English article. That way everyone can concentrate on actually improving the article instead of fighting over editorial minutiae.
Would everyone be okay with this, or do we have to start calling in impartial observers, friends, allies, enemies and veteran admins to argue the alternatives and examine the evidence?
Peter Isotalo 10:41, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Given that my disagreements with the article currently concern precisely two words, let's split the difference. You can keep "only" or you can keep "centimetres" in British English, whichever you care about more. While I do think that "only" is an unneeded adjective and it connotes a POV that somehow this is a bad thing, it's not worth going into the wiki-warzone over. And likewise, given that hands apparently is a more common term in America, I still think US English is more appropriate, but it's not worth any further real spats when we really are talking about one word. Do whatever, I'm done. Montanabw(talk) 04:19, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
I frankly don't care much about the English variant either. I just tried to clear up the issue by applying the guidelines we have on the matter.
However, I am very confused by the claim that a simple "only" would somehow be disparaging. For me, as a non-horse-person reader, it clarifies the issue of usage of this rather obscure unit of measurement in one fell swoop. And since it's obviously both true and is referenced, it can't possibly be considered undue POV. It's not against any of our guidelines so I don't see the point in trying to haggle about its removal.
Peter Isotalo 09:29, 11 July 2011 (UTC)
Not worth haggling over, just feels similar to words like "obscure," as it implies a value judgement that horses and the traditions of horsemanship are likewise obscure. To say that the hand is used to measure horses or the hand is "only" used to measure horses basically says the same thing, no need for overkill, or, if you will pardon the pun, beating a dead horse with unneeded adjectives. Montanabw(talk) 21:08, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────As far as the history section, JLAN, you've added some good stuff and I'm fine if you want to add material on handsbreadth to bulk out the history section if it seems relevant. Montanabw(talk) 04:19, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Note on my edits[edit]

Last set of edits was trying to improve flow and readabiliy, hence I rearranged some of the sentences, moved things into different paragraphs. Other than tossing some adjectives I don't think were needed and altering a word of two (which I hope kept nuance of source), I had no intention of altering content. I think some of my non-philosophical objections were simply that the structure of that section had been bugging me. So take this in good faith. I popped in some hidden text, which was mostly for JLAN and OK w/me to toss it when read without need for comment, or if it really warrants a discussion, move it over here. Montanabw(talk) 04:32, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Hmm, discussion. I'm usually up for that. I've been criticised in the past for using hidden text, so have not replied to any hidden comment. I agree on the reordering, but not on all the wording changes. I look forward to comment on the current version. Perhaps we could discuss further changes here?
On that note, I suggest eliminating the whole of the Terminology section, and incorporating the two tiny facts it contains (how a height in hands is read, and the idiotic but undeniable concept that hh may stand for "hands high") elsewhere. The rest of it seems to be how-to (as I think I have remarked before), and so has no place here.
On the topic of hidden text, there seems to be something generating endless hidden messages reading "Bot generated title" across the project. If there is such a bot, it does a very poor job, as it fails to generate either the publisher or the access date for web links, which thus need to be either manually edited or removed.
Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 09:27, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
There is a bot that does a fast convert of bare URLs, which is handy when you have a bunch of them in the article. As for the terminology section, sometimes it's best to keep what someone inevitably will add later if we toss it. And address what is a too-common form of blatent ignorance -- If I see one more ad in Craigslist for a "15.5" hand horse, I may just throw up both hands and scream! As for the hidden text, it's a fine line. I use it to explain my inline edits, where I think they won't be all that controversial if people see my reasoning. But they can devolve into a discussion in the article itself, which is a good time to bring them here. Montanabw(talk) 23:47, 29 August 2011 (UTC)


Yes, I can find citations that one hand is four inches in Hand (unit), but I could also find citations that a hand would be three inches in the same article, like in (my edit, and the citations stayed) "A hand breadth (palmus), the breadth of the four fingers of the hand, or three inches" and "A hand, or measure of lengths comprising three inches". And that's one of my problems with 18th-century units: if I buy a house, land, resources (or in your case a horse); I want to know what the sellers units mean. Units used in the modern world are SI: only some monolingual; mostly 18th, 19th, or 20th century enclaves disagree. Why would I buy a horse of 4 hands there, it could be any length, probably 16 or 12 metric inches (40.6cm or 30.5cm rounded), but a seller with small (or large) hands or thumbs could make it much smaller (or larger), and I don't want to fight such cases in courts in those last enclaves. -- (talk) 22:06, 4 July 2014 (UTC)

Measurements such as the inch or foot also once had multiple possible lengths but have been standardized. Your argument fails. A hand has been standardized at four inches for over a hundred years. Montanabw(talk) 22:55, 4 July 2014 (UTC)

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