Maintaining Body Condition in Hot Weather

It may seem like common sense, but a horse that is overweight is a horse that will struggle in warmer temperatures. The fat on a horse acts as insulation, great in the winter, but come summer this is a major issue. An obese horse in the summer can result in heat stress. This is why it’s vital to keep tabs on your horses’ body condition score during all seasons.

A proper body condition score (BCS) for growing and performance horses, as well as general-use horses, should be kept at 4-7, with a 5 being “ideal”.  Broodmares should generally be kept at a 5.5-7.5.

Weight tape (or a scale) can be used to monitor changes in the horse’s body condition. A weight tape may not be very accurate for estimating exact body weight for a particular horse, but it is consistently accurate at discovering changes in your horse’s weight. Take the measurement every 30 days, applying the tape at the same location around the heart girth and behind the withers, and maintain the same tension on the tape each time you use it. The results of your monthly measurements can be used to adjust your horse’s feeding program to maintain a constant and desirable body weight and body condition score.

Learn more about proper body condition scoring here.

2 Replies to “Maintaining Body Condition in Hot Weather”

  1. Thank you! I didn’t realize that weight could determine so much. I was really touched by “An obese horse in the summer can result in heat stress” I will be measuring every month. Thanks for the tips.

  2. Proper weight on a horse is definitely a commonly misunderstood subject. This is a short and sweet article that is to the point and offers good rules to follow. Blanketing is one way to assist thinner horses in cold weather to stay warm from lack of fat. Heat stress is definitely a factor not many people consider with overweight animals (especially those fat little ponies!).

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