How to Determine Your Horse’s Body Condition Score

Sort Posts

One of the most important things that any owner can do to understand and track changes to your horse’s physical condition. At Carolina Equine Hospital we are dedicated to providing you with tools to understand your horse and ensure they are at an optimal weight. We’d like to walk you through an easy approach for calculating their weight.

While it’s certainly important to know your horse’s vital signs…we believe it’s a good idea to have a system in place that also allows you to monitor changes in his weight and body condition.  Since it is fairly inconvenient to regularly weigh horses on a scale, there are several methods of estimating the weight of horses.  The simplest is to use a commercial weight tape.  Depending on the manufacturer and how close your horse’s size and shape is to the average horse, these tapes can be very accurate or they can be off by 100 pounds or more.  Sometimes the best use of weight tapes is as a tool to track changes.  That is, if your horse tapes 1000 pounds on November 1, then 975 pounds on December 1, then 950 pounds on January 1, then you know he is losing weight.  A more accurate method of estimating weight is taking two measurements of your horse and plugging them into this weight formula:

Heart girth(in)  X  heart girth(in)  X  Length (in)   =   weight in pounds

The heart girth is the circumference of your horse’s barrel taken at the highest point of the withers and the length is the point of the shoulder straight back to the point of the buttock, half the distance from the corner to the tail.

In addition to estimating your horse’s weight and monitor changes up or down, your horse’s condition, or amount of fat cover, should also be estimated regularly.  An excellent tool for this measurement is the Henneke Body Condition Scoring Chart, because it provides a standard scoring system for you, your veterinarian, your nutritionist and other health care professionals.  The scale ranges from a “1” which is the thinnest to a “9” which is the fattest—a score of “5” is ideal for most breeds and disciplines:


            2=very thin


            4=moderately thin

            5=ideal (moderate)

            6=moderately fleshy


            8=very fleshy (fat)

            9=very fat (obese)


Carolina Equine Hospital

Do you think your horse may be too heavy or too thin? Give us a call to give your horse a health exam and determine what the best size for him/her would be! Our office is open from 8-5, Monday through Fridays and we can be reached at 336-349-4080.