How to tell if a horse is at a good weight?

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by Acantha, Apr 10, 2009.

  1. Acantha

    Acantha Senior Member+

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    I saw my friend the other day, and her horse who, to me, does not look horribly overweight is (according to the vet) "dangerously close to foundering". It got me worried about Mia.

    With Mia, I can feel her ribs, but not see them. I know that's how you gauge a dog's weight, but does it work for horses as well?

    She's currently getting 3 flakes grass hay twice a day if she's in, or no hay and free choice grass if she's out.

    This is Mia:
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    Last edited: Apr 10, 2009






  2. Deb

    Deb Senior Member+

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    The image link didn't work. But feeling the ribs and not seeing is a good thing.
     
  3. EVOO

    EVOO Senior Member+

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    Some people go off the ribs only, I personally like to get a full BCS - simply because I think there are some horses who are naturally more or less ribby even when in good condition.

    If you google Henneke Equine BCS you should pull up the chart to use to assess your horse.
     
  4. Acantha

    Acantha Senior Member+

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    Ah, got the pic to work.

    I have some questions about the Henneke system. Miahas a slight crease down her spine. I can only see it if I'm really close. Is this the "postive crease" that is first mentioned in the last part of 6?
     
  5. JBandRio

    JBandRio Senior Member+

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    You can't just take one part of the horse and base his score only on that. Some horses have naturally big hiney muscles and will have that crease even if they are underweight. Some horses will never get that crease, no matter how much fat is covering ribs.

    IMHO, if you were to take just one body part and score a horse with any accuracy, it would be the ribs. That doesn't tell you if the horse has enough muscle or not, nothing about the scoring system really tells you that with certainty, other than 3 and below just not capable of having enough muscle.

    But if you can easily feel ribs, but not see them (other than perhaps when he turns and the light shines on his side), then you're pretty safe in saying the horse is neither too heavy or too thin.

    If you can very easily see ribs, chances are he's too thin. Exceptions would be horses in high levels of conditioning such as racing and higher eventing, where a horse is very likely to be more ribby but still in good weight.

    If you have to dig to feel ribs, he's too heavy.

    The other factors, such as the butt crease, are often dependent on the individual.

    Using the whole system you can get a better picture, especially when you're trying to see if the horse is a 3 but closer to 4, or closer to a high 2, for example.

    Your horse appears to be in decent weight. It's hard to tell too much, so you would need to do the rib test. If she's overweight, it's only slightly. I would not say she's underweight at all, unless she just has a really thick coat that's hiding bones ;)

    I'd highly doubt she's underweight - her neck does not have that look.
     
  6. Deb

    Deb Senior Member+

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    She's not too bad right now but since I own an easy keeper, and see the similarities...I'd be very careful about the unlimited grazing. Do you ride her alot?
     
  7. Acantha

    Acantha Senior Member+

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    JB--Her coat isn't super thick, and her ribs are not visible, but can be felt. I know she needs more muscling (she has improved since I got her), but theat's she's at a good weight is good to know.

    Deb--It's not entirely unlimited. The grass is not super rich, and we rotate her in a small electric pen, and keep her in for a day or two between rotations. I'm not riding her yet, but I do try and lunge or walk/trot her inhand daily.
     
  8. Deb

    Deb Senior Member+

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    She should be fine then. Just watch her. Pretty mare BTW. Love the tongue :)
     
  9. Acantha

    Acantha Senior Member+

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    XD Thanks.
     

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