What Is Body Condition Scoring?

body conditioning scoring chart

Body Condition Scoring (BCS) of your horse is a quantitative method of estimating the amount and distribution of fat on a horse’s body. This system, developed in the late 1970’s by Dr. Don Henneke at Texas A&M University, provides a standard scoring system for the industry which can be used across breeds and by all horse people.

The system assigns a score to a particular body condition as opposed to vague words such as “good,” “fair,” “bad,” or “poor,” which leave differences of interpretation to the eye of the beholder. The score ranges from 1 to 9, with 1 representing an emaciated horse and 9 representing an obese horse. 

The horse’s body condition measures the balance between intake and expenditure of energy. Body condition can be affected by a variety of factors such as food availability, reproductive activities, weather, performance or work activities, parasites, dental problems, and feeding practices. The actual body condition of a horse can also affect its reproductive capability, performance ability, work function, health status, and endocrine status. 

Badger Equine Veterinary Services assigns BCS to every horse as part of every wellness examination. This information, along with a body weight estimate, taken by measuring the heart girth, is valuable information for us to assess your horse’s nutritional status and the many factors affecting it.

The following video provides a great example of the factors considered in assigning BCS to horses.

Regular body condition scoring helps you keep your horse in good health. Learn how and when to score your horse with Dr. Bob Coleman of the University of Kentucky.

Badger Equine Veterinary Services would be happy to provide you with a reference guide to aid you in determining your horse’s BCS. Contact us today!