Everything you need to know about keeping your horse at it’s optimum weight and fat scoring.
It is vital for the health and well-being of your horse to keep it at the correct weight and fat score. Some horses are prone to weight gain and some will lose weight easily. Here is a simple guide to checking and monitoring your horses weight.
What is fat scoring?
Fat scoring is a system of evaluating a horse’s level of body condition (amount of stored fat) and assessing a numeric score to facilitate comparisons between horses. Many owners fail to recognize significant variations in the weight of horses or variations due to age and breed types. This often results in overfeeding or underfeeding.
A step-by-step guide to fat scoring
As every horse is different, the best way to accurately fat score is to separate the horse into three sections, the neck, the middle (shoulder blades to hips) and the back end.
Each one of these areas then needs to be scored separately out of 5, as horses, just like people, all store their fat differently. Don’t forget that you can use half scores such as 4.5/3.5.
You can use this handy diagram to get an idea of what number represents your horse best.
First of all, using your thumb and forefinger, find the nuchal ligament (the main ligament along the neck) and follow it. Fun your hands down the neck and towards the shoulder blade. Pinch the skin and the flesh by the shoulder blade. Finally check above the eyes. Score accordingly.
Run your hand across the horses ribs diagonally using a firm pressure, but not enough to push the horse. Place your hand nearest the head on the withers, place your other hand next to it and feel along the back.
The Back End
Put your hand on the top of the bottom and feel for the pelvis. Run along the hind quarters to the tail and feel for the tailbone. Find the hips and curve your hand around to feel the outline of the bones.
How to score a neck crest
Horses and ponies at risk of laminitis can also be helped by keeping a track of any crest that appears. Here is a quick guide to scoring neck crests.
It is best if you take a photo of your horse at least once a month so you can visually track any changes in their wight and shape. Weigh tapes are always useful, if not always accurate, but if used frequently it is another way to monitor your horses weight changes.
You should also practice fat scoring on different horses so you learn the differences between the different scores.