Body Condition & BCS

Assessment of body condition relies primarily on evaluation of the amount of subcutaneous adipose tissue (fat) and is useful for measuring the impact of a nutritional program in individuals. Various scoring systems have been developed to assist evaluation, one of the most popular being the Henneke system dating back to 1983 where a score of 1 indicates extreme emaciation and a score of 9 relates to extremely fat with moderate condition scoring 5. Developed for light breeds like Thoroughbreds and Arabians it may be less accurate for ponies, warmbloods, and draught horses. Other factors such as hair coat length, pregnancy, muscle development, gut fill and evaluator bias may affect scoring but whilst imperfect it remains a useful tool. A rise in score (BCS) over time indicates a positive energy balance with increasing fat accumulation, and declining scores arise when the energy balance is negative and body fat deposits are being utilized as an energy source.

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