3. Give your horse a Body Condition Score
Condition Scoring helps to introduce some measure of objectivity into the assessment of a horse or pony’s condition. The pictures above help illustrate states of condition and should act as a guide in assessing the condition of your own horse or pony. Remember, a horse’s type or conformation as well as how he “does” will all have a bearing on how he looks - a flighty Thoroughbred, for example, is unlikely to ever carry excessive condition. The art is to achieve the correct level of fitness and condition for the type and level of work required, and to the benefit of the horse’s overall health. Just because a pony is retired does not mean he should be allowed to get excessively fat!
In the UK a scoring system of 1-5 is traditionally used whilst in the USA a 1-9 system is more common. The 1-9 system is more detailed and is the system that we have chosen to describe here.
The descriptions for the American condition scoring system are as follows:
The horse is emaciated with spine, ribs, tail head, scapula and hips prominent with little or no flesh covering them.
2. “very thin”
Slight covering of flesh over scapula, spine and tail head. Ribs very prominent. Hollow through quarters, tucked up appearance in front of the
Hips and ribs slightly covered. Some hollowness through quarters and tucked up. Top line undeveloped, angular appearance.
4. “moderately thin”
Outline of ribs discernible although covered. Scapula and hips covered. Neck reasonably well covered with some top line.
Ribs not easily distinguished but can be felt. Well muscled top line, shoulders and neck blend smoothly into body. Fat around tailhead feeling spongy. No hollowness through quarters.
6. “moderately fat”
May have slight crease down back. Fat over ribs feels spongy. Fat around tailhead feeling soft. Starting to deposit fat down withers and behind the shoulder.
Crease down back becoming obvious. Difficult to feel ribs. Fat deposits on neck and behind shoulders becoming obvious.
Definite crease down back and fatty “pads” around tail head and over shoulders and ribs. Apple shaped quarters!
9. “extremely fat”
Large fat pads along ribs, shoulder, neck and over quarters and tail head area. Obvious crease down back and apple shaped quarters.