Scoring Body Condition On Horses

In many parts of the world, it is really cold out right now and the snow is very deep.

It is often this time of the year, when people look around see horses that are getting thin from lack of Proper Care. Thus, once again, I am sending out how to "Score Body Condition in Horses". It is a good idea to print it out and keep it handy for a Reference Guide when viewing what appears to be Neglected Horses that need to be Reported to your local Humane Society or Law Enforcement Officials. At any time of year, not just winter time! Starving horses happen all year round from lack of "An Acceptable Level Of Care".


Consider reporting the horses as Neglected if scoring a (3). Defiantly if scoring a (2) or a (1). If a (1), the horse MUST have Veterinary Assistance as soon as possible. Do not attempt to just rescue and feed a horse scoring a (1) without guidance from a Vet. In cases like these, "Kindness Can Kill". Their digestive systems may have shut down from lack of desirable feed. Only a trained Vet can administer what is immediately needed to get them onto the road to recovery. The Vet will also lay out a feeding program for recovery. Only small amounts of certain feeds can be fed without "Killing Or Crippling The Horse With Kindness".

If a horse scores a (8), but defiantly a (9), then the horse is in extreme jeopardy from being too fat. The horse should immediately be "SLOWLY" cut back on nutrients for many health reasons. Do not just put the horse onto a starvation diet, but slowly begin decreasing amount fed, continue decreasing amounts until correct amount for that particular horse is reached to maintain an ideal body weight.

This system evaluates a horse’s body condition based on visible and palatable fat cover over the Neck, Withers, Loin, Tailhead, Ribs and Shoulders. Horses scoring between 1 and 4 are considered underweight, a score of 5 is usually considered perfect, and 6 to 9 are overweight. Being to much overweight can also be very hard on a horse and lead to multiple health problems. Scores of 1 DEFINITELY, and also 2 and 3 should be brought to the attention of your states or provinces humane society, if the horse owner or care giver is making no attempt to correct the condition of the animal(s).

(1) POOR: Extremely emaciated. Bones in neck, withers, tailhead and shoulders projecting prominently. Ribs and spine are prominent. No fatty tissue can be felt or found anywhere on the body.

(2) VERY THIN: Emaciated. Bones in neck, withers and shoulders are faintly discernible. Tailhead and ribs are prominent. Slight fat covering over the loin. Spine is visible, but ends feel rounded.

(3) THIN: Neck, withers and shoulders accentuated. Tailhead prominent but individual vertebrates not visible. Hip bones rounded, but visible. Ribs are visible but have a slight fat cover.

(4) MODERATELY THIN: Neck, withers and shoulders not obviously thin. Ribs are faintly discernible. Negative crease along back. Fat felt on tailhead, but tailhead prominence depends on conformation. Many race horses fit this body condition.

(5) MODERATE: Neck, withers and shoulders blend smoothly into body. Fat around tailhead beginning to feel spongy. Ribs cannot be visually distinguished but easily felt. Back is level. Ideal body condition for most pleasure horses.

(6) MODERATELY FLESHY: Fat beginning to be deposited on the sides of the neck, withers and behind the shoulders. Fat around tailhead feels soft. May have slight positive crease down the back.

(7) FLESHY: Fat deposited along crest of the neck, withers and behind the shoulders. Fat around tailhead is soft. Individual ribs can be felt, but noticeable filling between ribs with fat. May have positive crease down back.

(8) FAT: Noticeable thickening of neck. Area along withers and behind shoulders filled with fat. Tailhead fat is very soft. Difficult to feel ribs. Crease down back. Fat deposited along inner thighs.

(9) EXTREMELY FAT: Crested neck, withers and shoulders. Patchy fat appearing over ribs. Building fat around tailhead. Fat along inner thighs may rub together. Flank filled with fat. Obvious crease down back.

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