Body Condition Scoring Horses

Body Condition Scoring Horses

Body condition scoring horses – are you across it?

When it comes to nutrition, you often hear people talking about a horse’s body condition score or BCS. A BCS is used to help owners accurately assess the condition their animals are in.

Understanding Body Condition Scoring is important for horse owners as the standardised scoring system helps to avoid vague descriptions and limit subjectivity. It’s also a good tool to use year round, to help you monitor your horse’s condition and health, as changes in BCS can mean you may need to adjust diet, or that your horse might have an underlying health issue.


One of these standardised systems was developed by Dr. Don Henneke, which scores a horse from 1 (poor) to 9 (obese) and can be used across all horses, disciplines and people. It is a widely used system as it has a broader scoring range and covers 6 areas, which gives a more accurate average score.
Dr. Henneke’s system works by assessing fat deposits in 6 areas across the horse:
– Loin
– Ribs
– Tailhead
– Withers
– Neck
– Shoulder

Cresty Neck Scoring

Cresty Neck Scoring is an additional system that is independent to body condition score. It assesses the fatty on the crest, ranking from 1-5.
This is especially important for horses and ponies prone to Laminitis, IR/ID, PPID and EMS. To assign a cresty neck score, you should use a combination of visual assessment and palpation.

The 0-5 Scale

Another system of scoring was developed by Leighton-Hardman (1980) and adapted by Carroll and Huntington (1988) which scores horses from 1 (very poor) to 5 (very fat). This scores subcutaneous fat in 3 main areas of the horse:
– Neck
– Back and Ribs
– Pelvis

It is worth learning how to assess your horse’s body condition, as it can help you stay on top of their health and nutrition.

Read more on the BCS systems, and how you can score your horse click here.

Ally Doumany
No Comments

Post A Comment


Be the first to know about our upcoming specials, competitions and feeding advice.

Subscribe to the T&R Newsletter