Body Condition Score
How much is my horse overweight?
Before we start with the program, it is important to know where you are now. How much overweight is your horse? We will do a few things to determine this. We will look at body condition scores and we will determine the horse’s weight.
When we determine the horse’s body condition score, or BCS, we will look at six different areas: the neck, withers, loin, tail head, ribs and the area just behind the shoulders.
The picture below clearly shows the areas you should look at, as these are important to properly assess your horse’s condition.
Score your horse
By means of the pictures and description per area below, you can assess your horse and determine its score. The average of the six areas determines the final body condition score. Be honest when you complete the BCS, even though it can be confrontational. Don’t forget, you are about to do something about it.
The bone structures of the neck, shoulder and withers can easily be felt. The spinous processes are visible and so are the ribs. The tail head is also clearly protruding. No fat tissue can be felt.
The bone structures of the neck, shoulder and withers are vaguely visible. The vertebrae and the tail head can be felt. The ribs are visible.
The bone structures of the neck, shoulder and withers are discernible, but the bone structure cannot be distinguished. The vertebrae can no longer be felt. The tail head can be felt, but the individual vertebrae are no longer visible. The ribs can still be seen, but there is some fat cover.
The neck, shoulder and withers do not appear overly thin. A slight ridge of spine is visible. The tail head may or may not be visible depending on the breed and some fat cover can be felt. Outline of the ribs is vaguely visible.
Neck and shoulder make a smooth transition to the body. The withers are rounded. The tail head is spongy. Ribs cannot be seen, however, can easily be felt.
“Take a picture from the side of your horse every month. After a few months, you will clearly see the difference”
Along the neck, behind the shoulders and at the sides of the withers, fat deposits are building up. Possibly, there is a slight crease down the spine. The tail head feels spongy. The fat cover on the ribs feels spongy, however, you can still feel the ribs.
Fat deposits along withers and neck and behind the shoulders. Possibly, there is a slight crease down the spine. The tail head feels spongy. Individual ribs can still be felt, but the ribs have a noticeable fat filling between them.
The neck is noticeably large. The withers and the area behind the shoulders are filled with fat tissue. There is an apparent crease down the spine. The fat surrounding the tail head feels very soft. As a result of the fat, the ribs are difficult to feel.
Bulging fat on the neck, at the tail-head, withers, and behind the shoulders. Fat on the inner thighs can make them rub against each other and the fat fills the flanks to such an extent that the body and flanks continue in each other. There is an obvious crease down the spine. There is patchy fat on the ribs as a result of which you can no longer feel the ribs.
Score monthly: be patient
5 is the ideal score and we will work towards that score. As from now on, you will do this Body Condition Score monthly. Don’t expect visible results after one month. During the first weeks, you will often see the tummy becoming thinner, but that has no effect on the body score. Usually, you will only see some real results after two months.
Write down the things you notice in the weight chart. Below you can download only the weight chart, or the complete workbook.