>>>> First off, if you mean 20 and 1/2 hands, it would be written 20.2 (a hand is 4 inches, and the 2 is 2 inches, or 1/2 of a hand.) >>>> I was pondering that the other day, its really not correct. The 20-is in hands, the .2-is in inches, you can't technically mix measurement systems. So 20.5 is actually technically correct. We horse people very much enjoy confusing nonhorsey people.
The practice of measuring horses in hands and inches (each inch being a fraction of a hand), and putting the whole hands measurement to the left of the "." and the fraction of a hand, the inch measurement, to the right of the ".", IS correct-- for this particular old, established, traditional measurement system. Doing this is NOT mixing measurement systems-- the "." is meant to seperate the two measurements recognized in ONE system (hands and inches) rather than to be used as a decimal point to denote that "proper" decimal fraction will follow....
"Hands.Inches" has been a working and well understood system for 100's, maybe 1000's, of years, and IMO it is easier and simpler to teach it correctly as it has been customarily used than it would be to try and convert a part of the system over to "proper" decimals. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_(length
) The "Hand" Measurement for Horses Measure Horse Height Accurately How to Measure a Horse | eHow.com OnlineConversion.com - Horse Height Conversion Horseracing History Online - Education : Measuring a Horse