A Guide to Your Horse Body Condition Score

It is important to familiarise yourself with the horse body condition score chart when going to view a horse for sale. It is essential that every horses physical body condition is actively monitored and that any changes that may occur are acted on.

Looking and touching a horse all over can provide you with a lot of information for if the horse is over or under weight.

In order to horse body condition score your horses body it is easier to split the horse into three areas: the neck and shoulders, the middle and the quarters. Start by looking and feeling the neck, especially the crest under the mane for fat. Run your hands alone the withers and backbone on both sides of the horse. Check the shoulder blades and where they meet the neck and ribs. Feel and look at the ribs on both side. Look at the bony points of the pelvis, croup, the point of hip and tail. Finally, if safe to do so stand back behind the horse and view the rum.

Horse Body Condition Score table scale 0 – 5

0 = Emaciated • No fatty tissue can be felt – skin tight over bones

• Shape of individual bones visible

• Marked ewe-neck

• Very prominent backbone and pelvis

• Very sunken rump

• Deep cavity under tail

• Large gap between thighs

1 = Very thin • Barely any fatty tissue – skin more supple

• Shape of bones visible

• Narrow ewe-neck

• Ribs easily visible

• Prominent backbone, croup and tail head

• Sunken rump; cavity under tail

• Gap between thighs

2 = Very lean • A very thin layer of fat under the skin

• Narrow neck; muscles sharply defined

• Backbone covered with a very thin layer of fat but still protruding

• Withers, shoulders and neck accentuated

• Ribs just visible, a small amount of fat building between them

• Hip bones easily visible but rounded

• Rump usually sloping flat from backbone to point of hips, may be rounded if horse is fit

• May be a small gap between thighs

3 = Healthy weight • A thin layer of fat under the skin

weight • Muscles on neck less defined

• Shoulders and neck blend smoothly into body

• Withers appear rounded over tips of bones

• Back is flat or forms only a slight ridge

• Ribs not visible but easily felt

• A thin layer of fat building around tail head

• Rump beginning to appear rounded

• Hip bones just visible

4 = Fat • Muscles hard to determine beneath fat layer

• Spongy fat developing on crest

• Fat deposits along withers, behind shoulders, and along neck

• Ribs covered by spongy fat

• Spongy fat around tail head

• Gutter along back

• Rump well rounded

• From behind rump looks apple shaped

• Hip bones difficult to feel

5 = Obese • Horse takes on a bloated or blocky appearance

• Muscles not visible – covered by a layer of fat

• Pronounced crest with hard fat

• Pads of fat along withers, behind shoulders, along neck

and on ribs, ribs cannot be felt

• Extremely obvious gutter along back and rump

• Flank filled in flush

• Lumps of fat around tail head

• Very bulging apple shaped rump, bony points buried

• Inner thighs pressing together