While knowing your horse’s weight is critical to making sure your horse is receiving the care it needs, tracking your horse’s Body Condition Score over time is an ideal (and easier) way to make sure your horse is doing as well as you want him to.
Developed through extensive research by Texas A&M, the Body Condition Score (BCS) is measured on a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being “Poor” and 9 being “Extremely Fat”. Click here to download a chart describing each of the scores, along with a tracking form for your use.
You can easily determine your horse’s BCS by looking at the amount of fat deposited in six key areas of your horse’s body:
- Along the neck
- Along the withers
- Crease along the back
- Over the ribs
- Behind the shoulder
- Over the tailhead
As a general rule of thumb, growing and performance horses, as well as general-use horses, should be kept at a BCS of 4-7, with a 5 being “ideal”. Broodmares should generally be kept at a 5.5-7.5.
Learning how to assign a Body Condition Score may take a little practice, and what you call a 4.5 might be a 5 to your neighbor, but what is most important to your own herd is that you assign scores to each horse, then track them over time to ensure that everyone is receiving all the care they need.
For your reference, here is a quick “how-to” video: