Dr. Gray’s Featured Presentation from the 2008 AAEP Healthy Horses Workshop- “Nutrition: Body Condition Scoring”

KEY #8- Body Condition Scoring (and other measurements)

In addition to knowing your horse’s normal vital signs (temperature, pulse, respiration and others), it’s a good idea to have a system in place that also allows you to monitor changes in his weight and body condition. Since it is fairly inconvenient to regularly weigh horses on a scale, there are several methods of estimating the weight of horses. The simplest is to use a commercial weight tape. Depending on the manufacturer and how close your horse’s size and shape is to the average horse, these tapes can be very accurate or they can be off by 100 pounds or more. Sometimes the best use of weight tapes is as a tool to track changes. That is, if your horse tapes 1000 pounds on November 1, then 975 pounds on December 1, then 950 pounds on January 1, then you know he is losing weight. A more accurate method of estimating weight is taking two measurements of your horse and plugging them into this weight formula:

Heart girth(in) X heart girth(in) X Length (in) = weight in pounds
330

The heart girth is the circumference of your horse’s barrel taken at the highest point of the withers and the length is the point of the shoulder straight back to the point of the buttock, half the distance from the corner to the tail.

In addition to estimating your horse’s weight and monitor changes up or down, your horse’s condition, or amount of fat cover, should also be estimated regularly. An excellent tool for this measurement is the Henneke Body Condition Scoring Chart, because it provides a standard scoring system for you, your veterinarian, your nutritionist and other health care professionals. The scale ranges from a “1” which is the thinnest to a “9” which is the fattest—a score of “5” is ideal for most breeds and disciplines:

1=emaciated
2=very thin
3=thin
4=moderately thin
5=ideal (moderate)
6=moderately fleshy
7=fleshy
8=very fleshy (fat)
9=very fat (obese)

Body condition score, nutrient requirements, over and under-supplementation . . . This article has thrown some pretty hefty words around. Key #9 provides definitions of some words frequently used in any nutrition discussion.

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Posted in Ask the Vet

Recent Posts


One comment on “Dr. Gray’s Featured Presentation from the 2008 AAEP Healthy Horses Workshop- “Nutrition: Body Condition Scoring”
  1. A M Wright says:

    Is there a proper way to estimate the scale of the Henneke Body Condition Scoring Chart?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Share it:
SmartPak is the Official Tack and Equipment Supplier of the USEF.
Members save 5% off all purchases.
You'll this

SmartCombo™ Senior Pellets


As Low As: $55.95
(53 reviews)
Have questions? Contact us »
Connect with us:

Meet the SmartPakers

Jen and Tally
Apparently I've been obsessed with horses since I was born, and I used to beg for pony rides on a regular basis. I started showing in 4-H, progressed to equitation and jumpers in high school and rode on the IHSA team in college where I also discovered the joys...

Learn more »

Read our blog

Ask the Vet
Every week our staff veterinarian, Dr. Lydia Gray, answers tough horse health questions from riders just like you.

Read her latest answer now »

Healthy horses, happy riders.
SmartPak is committed to a greener planet.
Sign Up Now!
Free Catalog Get Yours Now!

SmartPak Equine is the premier online provider of horse supplies and equine supplements.
Questions? Call us Toll-Free at 1-888-752-5171. © Copyright 2013 by SmartPak Equine LLC. All Rights reserved.