How to body condition score your horse

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The Body Condition Score (BCS) scale is used as a standardized system for estimating a horse’s weight. It allows different examiners to compare their findings with each other and for one examiner to compare a horse’s weight change over time. The BCS scale ranges from 1-9 and the following is a description of each score:

  1. Poor – Tops of vertebrae (spine), ribs, tailhead, points of hip all projecting prominently. Bone structure of withers, shoulders, and neck easily noticeable; no fatty tissue can be felt.
  2. Very Thin – Slight fat covering over base of spine. Withers, shoulders, and neck structure faintly visible
  3. Thin – Slight fat cover over ribs. Ribs easily visible. Tailhead is prominent, but individual vertebrae (spine bones) cannot be identified visually. Hip bones appear rounded, but easily visible. Withers, shoulders, and neck accentuated.
  4. Moderately Thin – Slight ridge along back. Faint outline of ribs visible. Fat can be felt around tailhead. Hip bones not visible. Withers, shoulders, and neck not obviously thin.
  5. Moderate – Back is flat (no crease or ridge); can not visualize ribs, but easily felt. Fat around tailhead is spongy. Withers appear rounded. Shoulders and neck blend smoothly into body.
  6. Moderately Fleshy – May have slight crease down back. Fat over ribs is spongy. Fat around tailhead is soft. Fat beginning to be deposited along the side of withers, behind shoulders, and along sides of neck.
  7. Fleshy – May have crease down back. Individual ribs can be felt, but noticeable filling between ribs with fat. Fat deposited along withers, behind shoulders, and along neck.
  8. Fat – Crease down back. Difficult to feel ribs. Fat around tailhead very soft. 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.