In partnership with SPILLERS™

Being able to recognise excess weight gain is key to preventing and tackling obesity but assessing your own horse objectively is sometimes difficult, especially as gradual changes can easily be missed when you see your horse every day.

Bodyweight alone is just a number and what is considered ‘ideal’ will vary between individuals. When it comes to your horse’s health and diet, the amount of fat they are carrying is equally, if not more important than their actual weight. A body condition score (BCS) of 5 on the 1 – 9 scale is generally considered ideal whilst a score of 7 or above is considered obese. Did you know at a BCS of 7/ 9 you can still feel the horse’s ribs?

Assessing your horse

The table below highlights the changes in a horse’s fat covering at a body condition score of 5, 7 and 9.

BCS 5/9 BCS 7/9 BCS 9/9
Neck Good fat covering. Neck blends smoothly into body. Fat deposits along the neck. Crest forming. Bulging fat along the neck. Crest enlarged and thickened. Crest may droop to one side.
Withers Withers rounded over bone structure. Fat deposits on the withers. Bulging fat on the withers.
Shoulder Good fat covering. Shoulder blends smoothly into body. Fat deposits behind the shoulder. Bulging fat.
Ribs Ribs cannot be seen. Can be easily felt. Individual ribs can be felt. Noticeable fat filling between ribs. Obvious fat deposits over ribs. Ribs cannot be felt.
Loin Back is level. Good fat covering. Positive crease down back. Very prominent positive crease down back.
Tailhead Good fat covering. Fat around tailhead feels slightly spongy. Fat deposits around the tailhead. Fat is soft. Bulging fat around the tailhead.

If you have an overweight horse or pony and would like to speak to a nutritionist, SPILLERS™ would love to help. You can call their Care-Line on 01908 226626, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm or visit their website for more information.

Have you heard about Your Horse’s #FitNotFat campaign? Equine obesity is an enormous welfare problem and we’re on a mission to provide owners and riders with the knowledge, skills and information you need to keep your horse in tip-top health. It could be life saving! Find out more

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