4 Reasons to Assess Your Horse’s Body Condition Scoring

Herders use the body condition scoring method to rate an animal’s body condition to monitor and evaluate the contents of their animals’ body reserves, or fat accumulation. It is a method for accurately regulating the health of their pet or sports animal. Additionally, it is used in the breeding of horses and the provision of their general health care.

Horse's Body Condition Scoring
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The Body Condition Scoring Chart for Horses is used to identify an equine’s physical health status clearly. It’s possible to compare horses’ health with different quantities of fat reserves by touching and visually inspecting the ribs, tailhead area, neck, withers, and the area behind the shoulders. This comparison is regardless of the body size or breed of the horse.

Why Assess Your Horse’s Body Condition Scoring?

To Improve its Physical Health

The condition score of your horse will help determine whether or not it needs to gain weight, reduce weight, or keep the same weight. Various circumstances can impact its physical health, including food availability, reproductive activity, climate, working activities, parasites, dental problems, and dietary patterns.

Caring for and breeding horses is pretty different from breeding HF Cows. These great dairy sources and cows generally thrive, breed, and produce more in unpredictable continental weather conditions. But regarding health, horses require stability and only minor environmental changes. By using the scores to determine the horse’s physical state, you’ll be able to plan for its rehabilitation or identify strategies to improve its overall health.

Additionally, many horses possess body fat which is typically distributed unevenly across their bodies. During palpation, calculating the average of the scores from the various locations is often necessary. For instance, you may have a horse that appears skeletal but is overweight because its neck and quarters have more fat. This gives more reason for equine producers to periodically check their herd’s body condition score (BCS).

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Horse Body Condition Scoring
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Horse Scoring Categories

0 Score: The bony horse. This score suggests that there’s no fatty tissue felt during palpation, and the skin is so tight over its bones during visual inspection. Almost all of its bones are visible, making it look like a walking skeleton.

1 Score: The thin horse. Because of the horse’s many visible bones, the score indicates that it is skinny, and can barely feel fatty tissues during palpation.

2 Score: The lean horse. This score reveals that the horse is lean with thin layers of fat under its skin. It’s usually assessed during palpation. Your horse still needs nutrients for its scores to go up and to make it healthier.

3 Score: The healthy horse. It’s the score that says your horse is in excellent health. It means that, though a thin layer of fat may lie just under the skin, it’s normal. The horse is not bony and is on top of its form. 

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4 Score: The fat horse. This score is already a cause for alarm for herders because the horse is overweight due to its fat. It means it’s already hard to assess the horse’s physical health because of its fatty physique. It can barely determine its muscles because of too much fat.

5 Score: This score means your horse is obese. It’s indeed a health emergency for your animal. It looks like it’s both boxy and swollen. Its muscles are no longer visible. It’s got a pronounced crest with firm fat pads, making the ribs no longer visible nor discernible. It means that several fatty deposits towards the base of the tail can be felt and seen during the inspection. The horse’s apple-shaped rump is also very prominent because of the squeezing of its inner thighs upon checkup.

To Know its Reproductive Health Status

The BCS is one of the most critical factors determining how long after delivery mares can become pregnant again. If they receive adequate nutrition, female horses will have a better chance of successfully rearing their calves and reproducing. To better assist in developing diet charts for their mares’ late gestation and early lactation, breeders or producers constantly examine their horse’s BCS.

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Horse Ride
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To Manage its Nutritional Needs

According to recent studies, equine breeds should ingest daily forage that accounts for at least 1.5-2 percent of their body weight in dry feeds. These dry feeds usually consist of meadow or field grasses and root crops. Conserved forages such as hay, haylage, or forage substitutes are also included in this dry feeding category. The dry-feeding guide for horses also considers a variety of other sources that are high in fiber.

The health maintenance and nutritional management need the BCS assessment as its implementing guide for the proper health and food intervention a particular horse will require. It’ll direct the horse’s nutrition manager to what and when the appropriate food is given. The scoring guide will also assist the caretaker in ensuring that the horse’s activities are reduced or increased following the BCS.

Health Maintenance Activities for Horses

  • Ensure there’s plenty of fresh and clean water
  • Maintain minimum consumption of grains
  • Provide high forage consumption
  • Match the exercise with the feeding
  • Avoid sudden changes in its location and feeding components 

Maintain Racehorse’s Form

Racehorses require significantly more care and attention than other horse breeds during their upbringing. Their caretakers and owners must adhere to precise routines to keep them healthy and always in their best form, especially while their breed is racing.

Some Essentials for Caring for a Racehorse

  • Keeping their stalls clean and bedded
  • Giving them daily baths
  • Providing two high-quality feeds
  • Giving of additional vitamins and supplements
  • Taking to the track every morning

The level of training and care required increases proportionately with the quality of the horse being cared for. Trainers and owners are very careful with their racehorses’ health. That’s why they are the ones who are most particular about the body condition scores of their racehorses.

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Horse Animal
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Whether your horse is for racing or not, you need to update yourself on your horse’s health status. It would be best if you used BCS as your baseline and the information in this content for additional insights. Additionally, you can also search for the best scoring materials on the net and apply what’s best for your breed.


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