A practical guide to body condition scoring horses - Dr Teresa Hollands
This video by Dr Teresa Hollands - as shown in the October 2013 The Laminitis Revolution 2 webinar - shows how to body condition score your horse, using the modified 0-5 point scoring system . Horses that are too thin, too fat and just right are used to demonstrate how to assess BCS, including a typical underweight PPID horse and a typical overweight EMS/PPID pony.
The body should be divided into 3 sections: neck, middle and bottom, and each section scored separately by feeling for fat over the skeleton. 3 is the perfect score. Body condition scoring should be carried out ideally every 2 weeks on all horses, and the results recorded.
Neck - there shouldn't be any fat or crest above the nuchal ligament - there is no muscle above the nuchal ligament, anything felt here is fat, not top line. A large crest will score 4 or more, bulges and corregation in the crest will probably score 5.
The shoulder blade should be well defined - if you run your hand down the side of the neck, it should come to a stop at the shoulder blade.
Middle - you should be able to feel the ribs, like feeling stair banisters through a velvet curtain, but hardly see them. If you can neither see nor feel the ribs, that scores 4 or more.
If you place your hand over the backbone, it should form a nice curve - a triangle is too thin, flat is too fat.
Bottom - you should be able to feel just feel the top of the pelvis, the hip bone and the tail bone. If you can't see or feel these bones, that scores 4 or more.
Research has shown that if a horse is overweight, for the all fat that is visible or can be palpated under the skin, there is probably the same amount inside the horse that can't be seen, wrapped around the organs and killing the horse from the inside.
In summary, if you can feel AND see bones, the horse is too thin.
If you can neither feel nor see bones, the horse is too fat.
If you can feel but not see bones, the horse is just right.