By Dr Carly Garling
The most correct method of assessing your horse’s body condition (closely related to the amount of fat your horse is carrying) is through Body Condition Scoring (BCS). A horse’s body condition score is the estimation of the amount and distribution of fat in the horse. Please note this is different to the horse’s weight.
The Australian Body Condition Scoring (BCS) is a numerical value given between 0 -5. The range varies from Score 0, describing horses in very poor condition, to Score 5, describing overweight horses. Horses are accurately condition scored by combining visual assessment with feeling the horse for fat cover.
BCS involves visual assessment and palpation of your horse’s neck and withers region, assessment of the whole topline, behind the shoulder, over the ribs, the pelvis/rump, and the tail head. Regular BCS by yourself will allow you to determine whether your horse has lost or gained condition and whether changes need to be made to your horse’s diet.
Many horse owners believe it is better to have a fat horse than a thin horse, when it is most healthy for your horse to be a bodyweight in the middle (BCS 3/5). Problems which may develop if your horse is:
First stand to the side of your horse with enough distance to visually assess the whole horse, and then stand behind, focusing on the roundness of your horse’s rump. Next, use your hands to feel and assess the amount of fat between the bone and skin.
BCS by region
Your horse may fall between scores, and therefore if he fitted some criteria of 3, and some criteria of score 4, you could call him a BCS 3.5/5.
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