Horse Health Facts: Weight Management
How much should your horse weigh? How long is a piece of string?
Each horse is unique, with a different genetic makeup that makes them either lighter in frame or heavier set, shorter or taller, and as such it is difficult to say exactly how much a single horse should weigh.
However, it is important that your horse is at an ideal body weight.
Using the body condition score system
The body condition score system is a simple cheat sheet that can give you an indication of whether your horse is underweight, overweight or an ideal body weight. Unfortunately it doesn’t give you the exact weight your horse should be, but you can get a gage as to whether you need to make some changes to your feeding or exercise program if your horse isn’t around the ideal score.
The scoring system is ranked from 1 to 9, with a score of 4 or 5 being the ideal range. This image highlights the look but we should also feel different areas, as smaller set horses may look skinnier but have excess fat.
1. Poor/Extremely Thin: Horse is extremely emaciated. Hips, ribs and backbone protrude prominently, wither, shoulder and neck bones are easily identified. Not fat coverage can be felt.
2. Very Thin: Horse is emaciated. Slight fat covering over the spine although spine still prominent. Hips, ribs, withers, shoulder and neck structures discernible.
3. Thin: Fat build up about halfway on spine, slight fat cover over ribs. Spine and ribs discernible, hips slightly less visible, and withers, shoulders and neck accentuated.
4. Moderately Thin: The spine is slightly visible, ribs barely outlined. Slight fat covering over the hips and tailbone, hip bones not visible. Withers, shoulders, and neck not obviously thin.
5. Moderate: Back is flat (no crease or ridge), ribs not visually distinguishable but easily felt. Withers appear rounded; shoulders and neck blend smoothly into body.
6. Moderately Overweight. The spine may have a slight crease. The ribs have a ‘fleshy’ feel covering them but each individual rib can be felt. Fat is beginning to deposit around the withers, behind the shoulders and along the sides of the neck.
7. Overweight: The spine may have crease. Individual ribs can be felt, but noticeable filling between ribs with fat. Fat deposited along withers, behind shoulders, and along neck.
8. Very Overweight: The spine has a noticeable crease. It is difficult to feel ribs individually. The area along withers and behind the shoulders filled with fat. There is a noticeable thickening of neck and fat deposits along inside of the thighs.
9. Obese: The spine now has a very obvious. Ribs are impossible to feel. Hips are well rounded, neck thickened and a large amount of fat on the inside of the thighs.
Once you can gage your horses body condition score, you can make amendments with either their feeding regime or their exercise.
Where does your horse sit on the scale? Leave a comment below.
Keep an ear out for our handy feeding calculation tips.