20 Jun 2022

Understanding Body Condition Scoring

Just like other animals, horses can become overweight or underweight. The impact of obesity or emaciation on a horse’s health and general well-being can be significant, especially when weight problems continue over an extended period of time. Body condition scoring (BCS) is one way that professionals measure a horse’s weight and body condition. This technique, developed by Don Henneke, Ph.D., in 1983, provides a standard body condition scoring system that is effective across all horse breeds.

What Is Body Condition Scoring?

Body conditioning scoring is a process used to estimate the amount of fat on a horse’s body. The system uses a score range between 1 and 9 that is based on the total amount of fat that has accumulated in specified areas of the horse’s body. The Henneke system evaluates accumulated fat by palpation and visually in six distinct areas, including the neck, tailhead, loin, withers, behind the shoulders, and the ribs.

As a general rule of thumb, a horse that receives a score of 5 is considered to have an “ideal weight.” Horses that receive scores between 1 and 4 are typically classified as emaciated to moderately thin, while horses that receive scores of 6 to 9 are classified as moderately fleshy to obese. Several factors are considered when giving a body condition score, such as the age and activity level of the horse.

How to Body Condition Score a Horse

Body condition scoring is a simple process that requires the owner to closely examine and evaluate their horse. Begin by scoring each of the six body scoring areas separately. Use visual cues and feel around these areas to assess the animal’s body condition. Once you have assessed each of the six areas, add all of the scores together and divide this number by six to get the average score.

There are several considerations you’ll want to make when evaluating your horse’s body condition. First, only look at the six specified areas and not at other areas of the body, such as the belly, as this can give you an inaccurate impression of body condition. Also, it can be more difficult to assess the body condition of horses with long hair coats. For long hair horses, take your time to palpitate the six regions.

Horses of different breeds will also differ in body weight and condition. For example, thoroughbreds tend to have more prominent backs and withers, which can naturally result in a lower score. Draft and pony breeds are often fleshier, resulting in naturally higher scores. In addition, senior horses tend to lose muscle tone as they age and may receive a lower score than a younger horse with better muscle structure.

How Can a Rosehip Supplement Help?

Maintaining a healthy weight and body condition relies heavily on your horse’s diet. However, even with a good diet, many horses may need extra support which can be achieved with the addition of a natural supplement like Elite Equine. Elite Equine is an organic, pure rosehip supplement sourced from wild-harvested rosehips. This natural supplement delivers anti-inflammatory and immune system support for equine hoof, joint, and coat health.

Many similar supplements on the market contain added ingredients that can be harmful to your horse’s health. Elite Equine is free from gluten fillers, animal proteins, and genetically modified components. The supplement is high in vitamin C and also contains other important nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin K, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. Together, these essential nutrients work together to fight off infections and improve immune system functioning.

Ensuring that your horse is of an ideal weight and body condition is critical for the animal’s long-term health and well-being. Consider adding a joint supplement like Elite Equine to your horse’s diet and see the proven benefits of rosehip.