Checking your horse's weight regularly is important to his health. Learn how to figure out if they need to gain or lose weight, then monitor their weight over time to detect changes.
In ‘Ask the Vet’ Nikky describes several methods for checking and monitoring the weight of a horse. A weighbridge is the most accurate but they are not always accessible. Here are two methods you can use with no more than a tape measure and calculator (for those of us who don’t love mental arithmetic).
All you need is a standard tape measure that records inches and a calculator, then perform the following calculation:
Measure the circumference of the animal, as shown in green in the picture. Measure the length of the horse’s body, as shown in white. Using the measurements from steps 1 and 2, calculate body weight using the formula HEART GIRTH x HEART GIRTH x BODY LENGTH / 330 = ANIMAL WEIGHT IN POUNDS.
For example, if a horse has a heart girth equal to 70 inches and a body length equal to 78 inches, the calculation would be (70 x 70 x 78) / 300 = 1,274 lbs. The number ‘330’ is a constant value that is used for mature horses.
Body condition scoring (BCS)
Reference: Carroll, C.L. and Huntington, P.J. (1988) Body condition scoring and weight estimation of horses Equine Veterinary Journal 20, 41-45.
Method: Feel for fat coverage along the crest, withers, spine, ribs, behind the shoulder and over the rump. Check periodically and keep a record for comparison.
- Very Poor
● Very sunken rump
● Deep cavity under the tail
● Skin tight over bones
● Very prominent backbone and pelvis
● Marked ewe neck
● Sunken rump
● Cavity under the tail
● Ribs are easily visible
● Prominent backbone and croup
● Ewe neck - narrow and slack
● Flat rump on either side of the backbone
● Ribs are just visible
● Narrow but a firm neck
● Backbone well covered
● Rounded rump
● Ribs just covered but easily felt
● No crest, firm neck
● Rump is well-rounded
● Gutter along the back
● Ribs and pelvis hard to feel
● Slight crest
Here’s a great video demo by World Horse Welfare to help you with the BCS method - horsemanshipjournal.social/fat-score-demo