This system estimates a horse’s body fat using a numerical ranking between 1 and 9. There are 6 main areas of interest when it comes to evaluating your horse’s condition: the loin, ribs, tail head, withers, neck, and shoulders. A numerical value is placed on each of these 6 locations and totaled to reveal the overall score. Increments of one half may be used if necessary.
Extremely emaciated; no fatty tissues can be felt; bone structure easily noticeable on neck, withers, shoulder; ribs, spinous process on back, tail head, pin bones and hook bones projecting prominently.
Emaciated; bone structure faintly noticeable on neck, withers, shoulder; ribs, spinous processes, tail head, pin bones and hook bones prominent; slight fat cover over base of spinous processes.
Neck, withers and shoulder emphasized; slight fat cover over ribs and halfway on spinous processes but easily palpable; traverse processes cannot be felt; tail head prominent but individual vertebrae cannot be seen; hook bones appear rounded; pin bones not distinguishable.
Neck, withers and shoulder not obviously thin; faint outline of ribs can be seen; negative crease along back; fat can be felt over tail head.
Neck and shoulder blend smoothly into body; withers rounded over spinous processes; ribs cannot be seen but are easily felt; back is level; fat around tail head starting to feel spongy.
Fat starting to be deposited along neck, shoulder and withers; fat over ribs feels spongy; may have slight positive crease (groove) down back; fat around tail head is soft.
Fat deposited along neck, withers and behind shoulder; noticeable fat filling between ribs; may have positive crease down back; fat around tail head is soft.
Noticeable thickening of neck; area along withers and behind shoulder filled with fat; difficult to feel ribs; positive crease down back; fat around tail head very soft.
Bulging fat on neck, withers, behind shoulders and around tail head; patchy fat over ribs; obvious crease down back; flank filled with fat.
Articles and illustrations reprinted with kind permission from Horse Council BC, one of the most successful membership-driven multi-breed, multi-discipline provincial equine organizations in Canada. Horse Council BC represents the equine community in BC by collaborating with individuals, businesses, and industry professionals to strengthen communication, education, and safety. For more information about Horse Council BC, and access to further equine educational material free of charge, visit them at www.HCBC.ca.