17 Horses Puzzle


A farmer wants to divide his 17 horses among his three sons. According to farmer the oldest son should get half of the horses,the middle son should get one third of the horses and the youngest son should get one ninth of the horses.
When their father died they were not able to divide the horses as the result was coming in fractions. As the sons were fighting on how to divide the horses a traveling mathematician came and heard their problem. He proposed a solution with which all the sons got their share in the property without harming any animal.
What was the advice given and how the group of horses were divided?

17 horses and 3 sons puzzle


Well, this puzzle is interesting. you have to think such that with the solution everybody is happy and no body will suffer a loss.

Let’s see the problem first.
we have 17 horses to be divided among three sons with the ratio as given.

1st son — half of the horses (17/2)=8.5
2nd son — one third of horses (17/3)=5.66
3rd son — one ninth of horses (17/9)=1.88

Now all the results are in fraction so the horses cannot be distributed like this. What will the traveling mathematician do to solve it.

It’s simple. He will add his horse to the group of horses. So in total we have 18 horses now. Now let’s see the scenario again.

1st son — half of the horses (18/2)=9
2nd son — one third of horses (18/3)=6
3rd son — one ninth of horses (18/9)=2

So in total 17 horses will get distributed among the three sons and the traveling mathematician will take his horse and leave. :)

8 Thoughts on “17 Horses Puzzle

  1. Lennie Jo Barnes on January 8, 2015 at 10:40 pm said:

    That leaves one short…so he didn't actually give his horse unless he brought an extra one??? That's an incomplete question.

  2. Ashish Singh on March 24, 2015 at 6:21 am said:

    or just take the lcm of 2, 3 and 9 which comes out to be 18, now 18/2 = 9, 18/3 = 6, 18/9 = 2 so total 9+6+2 = 17 without any conflict

  3. Meiyappan R on August 25, 2015 at 6:03 pm said:

    Unfortuanately the proposed solution of giving the sons 9, 6 and 3 horses is not the soution as it is incorrect both legally and mathematically! The will distributes a total of 1/2, 1/3 and 1/9th of the total assets and the fractions add upto 17/18th of the total asset. How the remaining 1/18th should be disposed is NOT mentioned in the will! The man who left the will was arithmetically challenged. That’s the reason why the proposed solution is mathematically incorrect. The reason why it is legally incorrect is that they have claimed the the entire asset base of 17 horses when they were supposed to have taken only 17/18th of it! It is truly sad that people do not recognize this flaw and use this to impart various lessons on subjects varying from Mathematics and logical thinking to Moral education! One other possible thing to do to solve the problem better is possibly sell all the horses, then divide the money made according to the ratio left in the will, and bury the reaimining 1/18th of the money next to where the dead man is laid to rest AND very importantly keep Moral messages completely out!

  4. Meiyappan R on August 25, 2015 at 6:06 pm said:

    Correction to my previous post: the first line should read ‘….9,6 and 2 horses…’ and not ‘….9,6, and 3 horses….’

  5. just round off the fractions..it will come to 9,6,2=17..simple..

  6. Sowjanya on May 5, 2017 at 6:04 pm said:

    I guess the farmer is either too smart or too dumb. If he is smart, he wanted the sons to earn or buy another horse on their own without his father’s assets or money and divide the 18 horses as mentioned in the will ,i.e. 9, 6 and 2. As per the will, 1/18th of the assets is to be left without giving it to any of his sons. And so here finally 1 horse will be left and none of the sons will rightfully own it.

  7. Catty on July 11, 2017 at 6:05 pm said:

    Awesome puzzle and answer as well .

  8. marcus on August 8, 2017 at 7:27 pm said:

    here one thing is to be noticed i.e. sum of (1/2),(1/3),(1/9) is not equals to 1(i.e the whole quantity),rather it is( 17/18),so first to make it 1,the mathematician gave 1 horse .Actually he gave 1/18 th fraction and after that he divided the horses among the sons. and after division he took back his 1/18 th fraction.

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