The Equine Body Condition
TGIS! (Thank Goodness It’s Spring)
With spring comes veterinarians’ visits to many of your horses for wellness work. A frequently received question: “How is my horse’s weight? Is my horse too fat or too skinny?” A body score system was developed to give a score of 1 to 9 to the body condition of horses. Although the score is subjective, most individuals trained to interpret a visual and palpated exam on any specific horse usually vary in assigned score by only one number.
The optimum score for most horses is 5 to 7. Most of the horses in our practice that are outside the optimum range are above 7. Those individuals are more at risk for metabolic problems. Our experiences at Harmony Dumb Friends facility at Franktown have presented horses scored as low as 1 or 1 ½; what a sad thing!
We are including a links to articles that describe the body scoring system. By reading all three, one can get a good idea of the system. Please remember you need to palpate the areas used for scoring. Hair length can affect the appearance of the body parts. Also, horses undergoing long stall confinement will display muscle atrophy or shrinking along the loin; all areas used to develop the body score should be nearly equal. If you are not sure, have your veterinarian evaluate your horse.
Another method to evaluate if your horse is losing or gaining weight is to simply use a weight tape. Instructions for the proper application of the weight tape is included in the article on body scoring by Purina.