Body Condition Scoring

Many physiological functions in horses are influenced by body condition including the horse’s maintenance, reproductive and exercising requirements. A system called Body Condition Scoring can be used to rate ideal body condition. This condition scoring system is based on visual appearance and palpable fat cover on six areas of your horse’s body.

The ideal body condition scoring is between 5 and 7.

1 • Poor – Animal extremely emaciated; spinous processes, ribs, tailhead, tuber coxae (hip joints), and ischia (lower pelvic bones) projecting prominently; bone structure of withers, shoulders, and neck easily noticeable; no fatty tissue can be felt.

2 • Very Thin – Animal emaciated; slight fat covering over base of spinous processes, transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae feel rounded; spinous processes, ribs, tailhead, tuber coxae, and ischia prominent; withers, shoulders, and neck structure faintly discernable.

3 • Thin – Fat buildup about halfway on spinous processes; transverse processes cannot be felt; slight fat cover over ribs; spinous processes and ribs easily discernable; tailhead prominent, but individual vertebrae cannot be identified visually; tuber coxae, appear rounded but easily discernable; tuber ischia not distinguishable; withers, shoulders and neck accentuated.

4 • Moderately Thin – Slight ridge along back; faint outline of ribs discernable; tailhead prominence depends on conformation, fat can be felt around it; tuber coxae not discernable; withers, shoulders and neck not obviously thin.

5 • Moderate – Back is flat (no crease or ridge); ribs not visually distinguishable but easily felt; fat around tailhead beginning to feel spongy; withers appear rounded over spinous process; shoulders and neck blend smoothing into body.

6 • Moderate Fleshy – May have slight crease down back; fat over ribs spongy; fat around tailhead soft; fat beginning to be deposited along the side of the withers, behind shoulders, and along side of neck.

7 • Fleshy – May have slight crease down back; individual ribs can be felt, but noticeable filling between ribs with fat; fat around tailhead soft; fat deposited along withers, behind shoulders, and along neck.

8 • Fat – Crease down back; difficult to feel ribs, fat around tailhead very soft; fat area along withers filled with fat, area behind shoulder filled with fat, noticeable thickening of neck; fat deposited along inner thighs.

9 • Extremely Fat – Obvious crease down back; patchy fat appearing over ribs, bulging fat around tailhead; along withers, behind shoulders and along neck, fat along inner thighs may rub together; flank filled with fat.