How can I tell if my horse is overweight?

Is your horse looking a little on the heavy side? Here's vet Gil Riley with a few quick checks that you can do. 

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The first thing I'd recommend is to do a visual assessment. Compare him with other horses on the yard of the same breed and size, but bear in mind show horses may be bigger than those who don't show, so don't base your assessment purely on this. 

Examine your own horse using a body condition score chart or weigh tape. You can easily download a body condition score chart online, which shows what a horse looks like on a score of usually 0 (emaciated) to 6 (extremely overweight). 

When assessing your horse, this is what to look out for: 

A crest above the neck muscle

If there's anything above your horse's neck muscle, then he's fat, as there shouldn't be anything here. 

This is where excess fat is stored and, in ponies, can be an indicator of laminitis.

Shoulder fat  

If you can see pads of fat on your horse's shoulders, then he's carrying too much weight. 

Ribs 

Your horse's ribs should be easy to feel when you run your hands across them or visible to the eye when you stand back and look at him from the side.

If you have to press hard to feel them, then he's overweight.

Hindquarters

When viewed from behind, his quarters should be rounded, with a slight angulation from the top of them down to his hind legs.

If they look like a big apple with a gutter running down the middle, he's fat. 

Monitor his weight 

A great way to keep an eye on your horse's weight is to take a picture of him from all angles before he's eaten breakfast. 

Do this again two weeks later to see if any changes have occurred. 

Another option is to use a weigh tape over the same point across his body. Again, do this in the morning before he's eaten any food and take it again two weeks later and notice any changes.