Talk:Hand (unit)/Archive 1

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Archive 1

Earliest comments

Either a hand is not 4 inches or 15 hands is not 30 inches (a shetland pony?!) I think all the thirty-something numbers should be 60 somethings, but I'm not expert enough to declare it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:27, 28 December 2004 (UTC)

I think the pony in the article refers to a "normal", non-Shetland pony. 15 hands is 60 inches, not 30. - THE GREAT GAVINI {T-C} 17:18, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Who else thought this article was a joke when they first saw it? :P Bwhack 07:54, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

The diagram is wrong

The diagram is wrong. A 'hand' is measured across the knuckles with the fingers closed. Didact1947 20:07, 16 September 2006 (UTC)

The diagram was wrong! So I have replaced it with a (hopefully) more accurate one. Please leave comments if you have strong feelings about this change (approval or disapproval). Unitfreak 10 September 2007.

Hand units are not specific to horses.

Hi there Montanabw,

Nice work keeping this article tidy, but keep in mind that the "hand" unit is not at all specific to horses. Therefore, common methods and traditions that relate to horse measurement are immaterial to the definition of the hand unit. Millimetres are the common SI unit for measurement of length under 1 metre, not centimetres.

The hand unit was derived from imperial units i.e. the inch, and intermediate measurement (14.1, 14.2) is based on the inch, not on a decimal unit (i.e. 14.3, 15.0, 15.1, etc...), and that is material as it is the foundation for the measurement in historical terms. While I have no objections to cross-referencing metric units, this is a historic unit. Incidentally, when horses are measured in metric units (seen in non-English-speaking nations on the European continent, for example) they are usually measured in centimeters (certainly by the FEI, less often meters and never millimeters, so while it's one thing to look at metric standards, there are also traditions within the equestrian world. As far as the hand unit, what, other than equines or other animals, are measured with it in modern use? I'm curious. Montanabw(talk) 20:43, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the only extant usage of the hand unit is in measuring horses etc. However, people's reasons for looking up the article may sometimes be non-equestrian (for example, a historian who's been researching ancient Egyptian documents may want to find out how long a "hand" is). Therefore, the basic definition should be generic, and not equestrian. InternetMeme (talk) 10:45, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
Of course, some other culture may not have standardized a "hand" as a closed-finger hand, I indirectly have heard of some examples where alternative measurements (extended fingertips) are used! I guess I think the solution here is to create new subsections for any non-equestrian uses as we find them. To go much farther than that starts getting into WP:OR territory. But I'm groovy with what's there for now. Montanabw(talk) 02:39, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

I was just reverted by Montana for changing the unit from mm to cm on account of this discussion (as far as I can tell). I certainly don't agree with Meme's comments above, though, because they don't attempt the issue. The millimetre isn't an SI-unit for one thing (the metre is). Whether millimetres or centimetres are the most common way of expressing measurements under a metre i have no idea, and I don't know whether it's actually worth verifying. What I do know is what I'm used to seeing as a metric user, and 101.6 mm looks very odd. Judging by a quick check of this article in other languages, centimetres appears to be used in every single one.

Montana mentioned in her edit comment something about "measurement gurus", so I might have missed something, but I still don't see any sign of millimetres being appropriate to convey t sense of scale of the modern hand.

Peter Isotalo 01:07, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

Peter, the burden is on YOU to find a source for your contention. So I reverted but added a "citation needed" tag to the mm version. You can actually do the work and find a proper verifiable source to support your view, then I will agree, no problem. While centimeters also seems pretty logical to me, I am not going to engage in OR when I haven't looked at the source. I also am tired of you popping up on all the articles on this topic and suggest you take your agenda to a single location, which is the discussion at WPEQ. Montanabw(talk) 16:11, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
How to present measurements in non-SI units is not a matter of proper sourcing, it's an editorial choice. There's no factual difference between 101.6 mm and 10.16 cm, only a matter of presentation. I addressed the statements brought up by Meme above, and I explained my reasoning by referring to similar article in languages that primarily use the metric system. If you willingly agree that it's logical, reverting my suggestion and slapping a cite-tag on it is completely pointless, especially since you obviously don't doubt the fact yourself (it's already sourced in the articles, and given in cm).
Judging by your comments here, I'd say you're building up a lot of aggression aimed at me personally. Claiming I have an "agenda" because I made one minor change to an article where you have been involved in after you had a conflict with me at horse artillery is more than a bit paranoid. Note for example how I didn't remove the conversion template here, something I would definitely have done if this was really a matter of my trying to provoke you.
Peter Isotalo 16:54, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
It would benefit this article to have the source for the standardization. I trust the other editor, but sourcing isn't a bad thing. Every source I own states that a hand is four inches. The convert template gives 4 inches (100 mm), so a source for 101.6 is actually a good idea. Montanabw(talk) 20:24, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
Judging by YOUR comments and pattern in at least four different places, you are in fact resuming a familiar pattern of tendentious argumentation, making things everyone else's fault, and general harassment that I have had to deal with before with you on at least two prior occasions, each of which involved situations where you disrupted multiple articles with arguments that had a few minor points, but overall very little substance. You seem to have an extraordinarily difficult time accepting that anyone but yourself has a valid point of view, and I am concerned that you cannot distinguish between a legitimate debate and someone getting personal, so you escalate to condescension, insult, twisting the words of others, and assorted personal attacks quite quickly. I tried to take this to your talk page and not scatter it across multiple articles, but you refuse to allow discussion there, and, frankly, given your behavior, I now don't really want you disrupting my talk page, either. So how shall we cool this down? Cooling it down "By doing it Peter's way because he's always right" or "Peter's idea of a compromise is the only option" is not a solution. We set up a sandbox and argued incessantly over nothing the last time, so that doesn't work. So hey, how about we just address THE ISSUE and not comment on each other's motives or actions AT ALL? Montanabw(talk) 20:24, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
We're both certainly rather passionate and perhaps quick to judge, but you're simply not in a moral position to fling this much dirt. By now your replies are completely dominated by rehashes of old disputes and outright rants about how much you dislike me personally. Again, consider getting a second opinion about this..
As for the issue itself, the rest of the article gives the hand in cm, and the lead stated it all in cm before Meme changed it based on the misconception that mm is an SI unit, but not cm. And it's clearly sourced in the article. Not to mention that you yourself clearly know exactly how long a hand is. The citation tags are simply uncalled for. WP:LEAD#Citations has always provided an exception for leads, and this is obviously not something controversial or obscure (within the scope of the article topic).
Peter Isotalo 21:38, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
Well, on the personal side, you seem to fail to see that you insult people and then you get all upset that they respond with a bit of testiness. But that can go elsewhere per the olive branch you've extended. For this article, I put in a cn tag on the claim its standardized or whatever, the convert template puts 4 inches as 10cm, which is probably not accurate either, as the standard conversion of in to cm is 2.54 inches to a cm, which would be 10.16, which means I'm missing a parameter from the template. Montanabw(talk) 23:42, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Hmm, just read all this, didn't realise this article was another war-zone. What fun you two are having. I hope that I have at least provided a reference for the exact equivalence of the hand to 10.16 cm.
Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 13:14, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

Removed material

I've removed from the article some stuff that is not directly relevant to it. While I don't think there is anything in it that is not already covered elsewhere, I'm pasting it here for reference.

A pony is generally defined as a horse less than 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm) or, depending on organization, 14.2 hh or less. An animal 14.2 hh or taller is classified as a horse. However, breed characteristics also play a role in defining animals as horses or ponies, particularly in breeds that may have some purebred representatives on both sides of the 14.2 divide. In some nations, such as Australia, the cutoff is defined at 14.0 hands (56 inches, 142 cm)

In the United States, ponies in horse show competition, particularly for hunter/jumper classes, are sometimes further subdivided into sections, depending on height:

  • Small Pony: 12.2 hands (50 inches, 127 cm) or smaller
  • Medium Pony: larger than 12.2 hh, up to 13.2 hands (54 inches, 137 cm)
  • Large Pony: larger than 13.2 hh, but no taller than 14.2 hh

A miniature horse is either shorter than 9.2 or 8.2 hh, depending on the registry. Minis often are measured at the last hair of the mane, located approximately at the peak of the withers which are sometimes poorly-defined in minis. The world's smallest horse, Thumbelina, is just 4.1 hh.

Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 13:05, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

Hmmm, I think I was premature, and there is one thing here that does belong in the article if it can be referenced: "Minis often are measured at the last hair of the mane, located approximately at the peak of the withers which are sometimes poorly-defined in minis." Can this be reliably sourced? Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 13:08, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
I think it is, check the refs in miniature horse, I know it's in all of their breed standards, and lest you think that I NEVER give up a fight, I finally was won over by the mini horse people on using the "last hair of the mane" thing after I stubbornly insisted on withers for a few months. (grin). I had also learned, years before wiki, that it is also appears to be a moral issue to call them miniature horses, not ponies! (grin). As for the rest, I am OK with a cross-ref over to the pony article where the issue is explained in depth. It's just that what I think was in here earlier was the too-simplistic "all equines under 14.2 are ponies" thing, which needs to be nuanced further if the issue is addressed at all. Montanabw(talk) 19:58, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

{────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Well, if miniature horses are measured in inches, they don't really belong in this article at all ... I've left them in, though, for now at least, as some discussion of when hands are not used does seem relevant to the topic. I can't say the same for this bit:

A pony is generally defined as a horse less than 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm) or, depending on organization, 14.2 hh or less. An animal 14.2 hh or taller is classified as a horse. However, breed characteristics also play a role in defining animals as horses or ponies, particularly in breeds that may have some purebred representatives on both sides of the 14.2 divide. In some nations, such as Australia, the cutoff is defined at 14.0 hands (56 inches, 142 cm)

which I've removed but am placing here in case there's anything that needs to go in the pony article. It has no relevance to the hand as a unit. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 17:00, 3 July 2011 (UTC)

Other than restoring one bit you deleted on how to crunch hands, I'm Ok with most edits. I think most of the political stuff is in the pony article; I see no harm in it being here, but no real need, either. Montanabw(talk) 00:34, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Please, don't tell me you really think instructions on how to divide by 4 belong in a Wikipedia article? What about WP:NOTHOWTO? I'd have done something on the early history, but there seems to be some confusion at Ancient Egyptian units of measurement, waiting till that is cleared up. It'll only be a sentence or two anyway. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 00:57, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
The point is not how to divide by 4, it's how to calculate hands (Check Craigslist any day for yet another ignorant individual saying a horse is "15.5 hands"). This article is going to sometimes be read by a 10 year old, I think it's relevant. Montanabw(talk) 19:33, 5 July 2011 (UTC)


I have removed the source Shlei, "Just how tall is a hand?" from this article as below the minimum standard of reliability acceptable to Wikipedia (e.g., "...a kind went to measure his favorite horse. Not having a device to measuer with..."). That's not intended as criticism of other pages of the American Donkey and Mule Society.

The page states that "hh" stands for "hands high". Does that mean that "pp" stands for "pages of print", that "ff" stands for "following folios"? I think not; they are simple plural forms. Of course, if anyone comes across a reliable scholarly source for "hands high", it can go back in the article. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 16:36, 3 July 2011 (UTC)

Any reliable source you can find will verify that hh means "hands high" It's not a plural, as ALL hands measurements are plural (never seen a horse one hand high, anyway). As with the above remark, you demonstrate that you know nothing of this topic, let's not be tenditious over something that will simply embarass you when I find the sources. Montanabw(talk) 00:34, 4 July 2011 (UTC) Follow up I restored the material and the shlie source, which I agree isn't a great source (though it is largely correct). I added a "dubious" tag for you , which allows your concerns to be discussed without removing needed material. Montanabw(talk) 01:13, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

Kindly keep your ad hominem remarks to yourself, I have no interest in them. I have no objection whatsoever to your reinstating that totally ridiculous statement if it can be substantiated by a proper academic or scientific publication which conclusively shows that Brander is wrong on this point. I don't think a copy of an old version of this page really qualifies as either; do you? But as a first step to remedying my total ignorance of this topic, why not take a look at Abbreviation#Plural forms? Does that say "hands high"? Hmm, how odd, it does not. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 09:28, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
I have always found it to mean just the plural. If it is said to mean more than just that then more reliable sources showing that use would be good. It seems somewhat like a backronym ... what is the earliest source suggesting hands high? (talk) 18:25, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
A backronym? That is a new one to me, like it. Of course "hands high" is just the usual blithering twaddle, made up yesterday by someone with insufficient education to see how silly it is. Nevertheless, it can be properly referenced (by which I don't mean the current references for it), and will have to go in to the article sooner or later. The earliest use I have found so far is 1975, Summerhays' Encyclopaedia for horsemen, Stella A. Walker. You have to laugh, really. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 21:16, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

BOTH ARE PLURAL: "h." by itself also means "hands" not the singular (and impossible in a horse) "hand", hh." does not mean just "hands", it means "hands high." I am not in any way making any argument about pp or ff or whatever, of course they have the meanings they have -- and they aren't relevant here. FWIW, you might also note that over at WPEQ, Owain (who is a Brit, I think) also just commented that "hh" means "hands high." You yourself just cited a source from 1975. Now, it is possible that there has been some linguistic drift in its use -- feel free to trace the etymology, but clearly this is a common modern form and used throughout the same horse world that uses "hands." I highly doubt anyone will find a scientific article in either direction. For what it's worth, I pulled old three books I have that were published in the 1960s, and none used EITHER abbreviation; they just said "hands" or simply said (for example) "14.2" without any suffix. As for the rest, JLAN "blithering twaddle" really is a bit ad hominem as well. So if we've now finished exchanging comments of that sort, I think it best we stop. Montanabw(talk) 06:21, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

While I pulled out an old book that did give the abbreviation, and used it as a reference here. If you have access to The New Hart's Rules I'd be interested to know what if anything it says on this; I've trawled all the style manuals I can without turning up anything. A good history of measurement would be worth a look too, if you can. As I said above, this particular piece of blithering twaddle is documented, and will have to go into the article at some point. It's a beautiful illustration of how language is modified by ignorance. Ad hominem? Yes, if I ever meet the person responsible, I'll have a few words to say! You might note that in modern usage most units do not take a plural when abbreviated: 11 yards, 11 yd; 14.2 h is thus not only not impossible, but quite normal. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 11:00, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

I doubt any non-horse style manual has ever addressed the question, over here we rely a lot upon the Chicago Manual of Style and similar guides, nothing I could find there specific to hands (but I don't have full online access, so who knows). But that's not the point -- you and I both already know that horse words have lots of deviations from standard grammar and style (my own pet peeve is people who call the fetlock an "ankle," which it anatomically is not). Measurement is just another example. If terms have been modified in defiance of standard grammatical conventions (which is not necessarily ignorance so much as convenience, probably), it's been that way for over 40 years and thus we are not going to put that chick back into the egg. And I must point out that terms like "blithering twaddle" do not help resolve the issues. Montanabw(talk) 19:33, 5 July 2011 (UTC)