How to Score Body Condition

Icon of a book About Body Condition Scoring

Body scoring assigns a numerical value from 1 to 9, based on the amount of fat on horses in the areas of the loin, ribs, tailhead, withers, neck and shoulders. (See figure 2.5)

The system works by assessing fat both visually and by palpation, or feeling for fat in each of these six body areas. This body condition scoring system is a helpful management tool that can be used across breeds and by all horse people. It helps to determine if a horse is being underfed or overfed.

For most recreation horses, a body condition score of 5 to 6 is ideal. Horses with a body condition score of 7 are probably being fed too much. Horses with a body condition score less than 4 require more energy in their diets and may need a veterinary examination to determine whether they have health issues.

Body condition scoring is a method of evaluating the percentage of body fat on a horse’s body.

Illustration showing areas of the horses body to address when performing Body Condition Scoring. These include, along the neck and withers, the crease down the back, tailhead, ribs and behind the shoulders.
Figure 2.5 Areas for Body Scoring Your Horse
Used with permission from Body Condition Scoring Your Horse: Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

Detailed information, videos and tools for body scoring are provided on the Weblinks item later in this module. 

What does the Code of Practice say about Body Condition Scoring for Horses?

The Body Condition Scoring Table below (Table 2.1) is adapted from the NFACC Codes of Practice (pp. 67-72).

Body Condition Scoring Table.  Click to open an accessible PDF version.
Table 2.1 Body Condition Scoring Table
Adapted from the NFACC Codes of Practice (pp. 67-72).
Click the image to open an accessible full-sized PDF version.

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