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Monitoring Your Horse’s Body Condition and Weight

It is advisable to monitor your horse's body condition and weight regularly, at least every two weeks where possible. If there are any specific concerns regarding weight or condition, more regular monitoring is desirable.

This is important to ensure a horse's diet is well matched to its work load. Furthermore, weight loss can be indicative of underlying health conditions, such as Cushing's disease or heavy worm burdens and weight gain can leave horses prone to conditions such as laminitis.

In addition having an accurate idea of your horse's weight is important when administering preparations such as wormers.

How to measure your horse’s bodyweight

In an ideal situation, you would use a weighbridge to measure your horse’s bodyweight. However, most people do not have regular access to this so a more manageable approach would be to use a combination of a weightape and body condition scoring (BCS).

Although weightapes are not one hundred percent accurate for actual bodyweight, they are very good at giving you an idea of whether a horse is gaining or losing weight. BCS is a measurement of the amount of stored fat on the horse’s body and is assessed through both look and feel of the horse.

This gives us an idea of how well a horse’s calorie requirements are being met. There are many different scales used, an example of the 1-9 scale (1 being emaciated, 9 being obese) can be seen here.

Download an explanatory guide to  body condition scoring.
Download an explanatory guide to body condition scoring.

If possible, monitor body condition and bodyweight at the same time of day (in relation to the horse’s routine) in order to reduce variation. Also, having the same person monitoring each time is desirable as there is a degree of subjectivity in this process.

Use a combination of a weightape and BCS to assess how well your horses’s feed is being matched to their workload.
Use a combination of a weightape and BCS to assess how well your horses’s feed is being matched to their workload.