Being able to assess your equine friend’s weight and body condition is a valuable skill, especially as we head into the colder months. A horse with good body weight will fare better in winter weather than a horse on the skinny side, particularly if it’s an older horse.
The Henneke Body Condition Scoring Chart is an important tool that provides a standard scoring system by rating the horse’s physical condition on visual appraisal and palpation (feel) of six key conformation points: the amount of flesh or fat covering along the neck; the withers; down the crease of the back; at the tailhead; ribs: and behind the shoulder at the girth.
A body condition score of somewhere between 4 and 6 is ideal for most horses. However, keep in mind that in some disciplines (like racing, polo and eventing) and some life stages (like pregnancy) a higher or lower body score might be more appropriate.
If you think your horse is too fat or too thin (or even if you are unsure), have a chat with your veterinarian to discuss the appropriate condition and a feeding and exercise program for your animal!