MSD Manual

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Body Condition Scores for Horses

Body Condition Scores for Horses





Body Condition Score 1 - Emaciated


Bones of the spinous processes, ribs, tailhead, tuber coxae, and ischii all very prominent. Bone structure of neck, withers, and shoulders easily visible. No fat palpable over lumbar vertebral transverse processes. Unacceptable under any circumstance. Severe risk of refeeding issues.


Body Condition Score 2 - Very thin

Very thin

Bones of the spinous processes slightly rounded but visible. Ribs, tail head, tuber coxae and tuber ischii are prominent. Bone structure of neck, withers, and shoulders faintly discernible. Unacceptable but may be due to illness or debilitation. At risk of refeeding concerns.


Body Condition Score 3 - Thin


Some fat buildup halfway on spinous processes in loin and tail head, but both are prominent. Individual vertebrae in neck are not visible but can be easily felt. Slight fat buildup over ribs and tuber coxae but still easily visible. Not desirable for optimal health and well being, depending on breed, use, and climate.


Body Condition Score 4 - Lean


Slight bony ridge over loin or flat, faint outline of ribs visible. Tail head prominence depends on breed, but fat should be palpable. Tuber coxae bones not easily visible. Withers, shoulder, and neck not obviously thin. Acceptable, especially for anaerobic performance.


Body Condition Score 5 - Moderate


Loin is flat (no crease or ridge). Ribs not easily visible but easily felt. Fat around tailhead is spongy, withers somewhat rounded (depending on breed). Shoulders and neck blend smoothly into body. Acceptable for all.


Body Condition Score 6 - Moderately fleshy

Moderately fleshy

May have slight crease down loin, ribs palpable with light pressure, and fat around tailhead is soft. Some fat palpable on side of withers, neck, and behind shoulder. Acceptable for all, desirable for show ring.


Body Condition Score 7 - Fleshy


May have crease down loin, and ribs difficult to feel. Palpable fat deposited along withers, behind shoulder, and along neck. Acceptable for most but may have reduced tolerance for heat and exercise.


Body Condition Score 8 - Fat


Negative crease down loin. Ribs very difficult to feel, and fat around tail head very soft. Fat filling area over withers and behind shoulder with noticeable thickening of neck. Minimal, if any, abdominal tuck observable (in nonpregnant animals). May be acceptable (depending on breed, use, and climate) but increased risk of metabolic disease and laminitis and reduced exercise and heat tolerance.


Body Condition Score 9 - Obese


Obvious crease down loin. Fat bulging around tailhead, along withers, behind shoulders, and along neck. Flank filled with fat (no abdominal tuck and ribs hard to palpate). Unacceptable. Increased risk of laminitis and other metabolic disorders and colic, especially due to lipoma strangulation.