Knowing your horse's Body Condition Score (BCS) is important. It will dictate what he is fed and how much exercise he requires to maintain the appropriate BCS. The ideal BCS is 5. Where does your horse score?
Animal extremely emaciated. No fatty tissue can be felt. Bone structure is very noticeable. Ribs projecting prominently. The shoulder is sharp and protruding. Tailhead, point of hip, and point of buttock projecting prominently.
Animal emaciated. Ribs prominent. Noticeable bone structure. Vertebrae are prominent. The neck is obviously thin. The shoulder is noticeable. Ribs are easily discernible. Points of hip and buttock prominent. Tailhead is very prominent.
Slight fat cover over ribs. Ribs are easily discernible. Neck, withers, and shoulder accentuated. The hip is rounded with some filling, but easily discernible. Point of buttock slightly distinguishable. Tailhead prominent, but individual vertebrae cannot be visually identified.
A faint outline of ribs with some fat filling between ribs. Negative crease along back (backbone sticks up). Neck, shoulder, and withers are slightly thin. Point of hip still discernable. Point of buttock rounded and not distinguishable. Tailhead slightly prominent.
Ribs may be slightly visible and are easily felt. The backbone is level. Shoulder blends smoothly into body. Withers rounded. Hip and buttock rounded. Fat around tailhead beginning to feel spongy, and tailhead blends smoothly with rump.
Fat beginning to be deposited. Fat over ribs feels spongy. Ribs are not visible, but can be felt with slight pressure. A slight positive crease (gutter appearance) may appear down the backbone. Shoulder blends smoothly into body. Withers rounded. Fat beginning to be deposited around tailhead.
Fat deposited along neck, withers, area behind the shoulder, and on either side of tailhead. The neck may begin to become cresty. Individual ribs can be felt with pressure, but noticeable filling between ribs. Fat is beginning to fill in the flank. Back has positive crease (gutter appearance).
Fat deposited at withers, the area behind shoulders, and along either side of tailhead. Thickened and somewhat cresty neck. Difficult to feel ribs. Positive crease (gutter appearance) down back. Flank is nearly filled flush. Fat deposited along inner buttocks. Fat around tailhead feels spongy.
Bulging fat. Patchy fat appears over ribs. Difficult to palpate ribs. Area behind shoulder is filled with fat. Obvious positive crease (gutter appearance) down back. Fat along inner buttocks may rub together. Flank filled in flush. Tailhead appears sunken due to fat deposits along either side.