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Icelandic Horse Connection

Equine Body Condition Scoring System

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The Equine Body Condition Scoring System was developed by Don Henneke who holds a PhD from Texas A&M. He is the Director of Equine Science and the Equine Center Manager at Tarleton S State University, Texas.

This system can be used on all horses, regardless of breed. The body type, or muscling does not matter.

There are nine areas to consider in evaluating a horse's condition; these areas are:

[] Neck
[] Withers
[] Loin / Groin
[] Area behind elbow
[] Topline
[] Ribs
[] Tail head
[] Point of hip
[] Point of buttock

Another area, mentioned by Susan Garlinghouse, is the "twist", the area between the thighs, as viewed from behind.

Use visual means to evaluate, as well as your hands by palpating boney areas.

In the system, the horse is evaluated in these areas, by determining the amount of fat in each area. Ratings in the scale are from 1 to 9: one is thin / boney, and nine is fat / very overweight.

[] Score 1: Emaciated
[] Score 2: Very Thin
[] Score 3: Thin
[] Score 4: Moderately Thin
[] Score 5: Moderate
[] Score 6: Moderately Fleshy
[] Score 7: Fleshy
[] Score 8: Fat
[] Score 9: Extremely Fat

In the picture below, this mare is considered a Score 5. She is neither thin nor fat, and has appropriate flesh in the noted areas.

equine body condition scoring system

Here are two pictures towards either end of the scale; the first being Score 2, Very Thin, and the second picture being Score 9, Extremely Fat.

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Included below, are a few different tables for your use, developed by others.


 Condition

 Neck

 Withers

Back & Loin 

Ribs

 Hind Quarters
 0 Very thin bone structure easily felt- no muscle shelf where neck meets shoulder bone structure easily felt 3 points of vertebrae easily felt each rib can be easily felt tailhead and hip bones projecting
 1 Thin can feel bone structure- slight shelf where neck meets shoulder can feel bone structure spinous process can be easily felt
- transverse processes have slight fat covering
slight fat covering, but can still be felt can feel hip bones
 2 Fair fat covering over bone structure fat deposits over withers   dependent on conformation fat over spinous processes can't see ribs, but ribs can still be felt hip bones covered with fat
 3 Good neck flows smoothly into shoulder neck rounds out withers back is level layer of fat over ribs can't feel hip bones
 4 Fat fat deposited along neck fat padded around withers positive crease along back  fat spongy over and between ribs can't feel hip bones
 5 Very fat bulging fat bulging fat deep positive crease pockets of fat pockets of fat

Sample Condition Scores below.

 Score 0  Emaciated - with sunken rump and deep cavity under tail, skin tight over ribs; e.g., severely debilitated older horses with abnormal teeth occlusion, starvation.
 Score 1.0  Poor - very thin with prominent pelvis and croup, ribs visible
 Score 2.0  Moderate - thin with flat rump, croup well defined, some fat; e.g., mare that has been severely dragged down by milking while on poor pasture.
 Score 2.5   - e.g., racing condition or endurance horse.
 Score 3.0  Good - ribs and pelvis covered with fat and rounded; e.g., a halter horse in prime show condition.
 Score 3.5   - e.g., mature mare in mid-gestation.
 Score 4.0  Fat - fat covering ribs and pelvis requiring firm pressure to feel; e.g., an easy-keeping, mature horse on pasture with little or no work.
 Score 5.0  Very Fat - severe over condition with ribs and pelvis that cannot be felt, deep gutter in back; e.g., a fat pony prone to founder (laminitis).


  1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
Neck
Boney
Very Thin
Thin
Shallow
Some Muscling
Cresty
Some Fat Deposits
Rippling Fat
Shoulder
Protruding
Obvious
Visible
Barely Visible
Rounded
Muscled
Some Fat Deposits
Bulging Fat
Back
Spine Protruding
Spine Visible
Spine Raised
Visible
Rounded
Soft
Back Crease
Back Crease
Ribs
Protruding
Obvious
Visible
Barely Visible
Even
Can't Be Felt
Some Fat Deposits
Rippling Fat
Loin
Sunken
Sunken
Taut
Even With Ribs
Blended
Beyond Ribs
Some Fat Deposits
Bulging Fat
Tail Head
Protruding
Protruding
Visible
Even
Rounded
Soft
Creased
Bulging Fat


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