ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Henneke Body Condition Scoring System: Judging if Your Horse is to Fat or Thin

Updated on April 13, 2013
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is a published author, freelance writer, and photographer. She also specializes in horses.

To Fat or To Thin?

 How fat is to fat, how thin is to thin?  These are important questions to ask when concerned about your horse’s health

The Henneke Body Condition Scoring System

We all want our horse to be in the best health possible. One of the visual ways we sometimes judge the health of Ole Paint is by how thin or fat he appears. But how can you really know when his weight is affecting his health?

No one wants to see a horse look like he’s been starved. Ribs and hipbones sticking out are obviously an unhealthy sign, but an obese horse may be in as much or more danger of health problems. Just like in humans, to much extra weight puts a strain on the horse’s heart and lungs, reducing his stamina.

Yet, a well-conditioned race or endurance horse’s ribs can show and it doesn’t mean he is to thin. The age of the horse and what he does are important factors to consider when judging condition. Research shows that fat mares have less reproductive problems that thin horses. But a fat performance horse probably will not perform as well as a thinner, well-conditioned horse.

A scoring system was developed by researchers to judge a horse’s weight called the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System http://www.kentuckyhorse.org/henneke-body-condition-scoring/. It is a standard used to determine a horse’s weight and condition.

The score ranges from poor to extremely fat. The poor horse is extremely emaciated, with bones projecting prominently. The extremely fat horse has an obvious crease down it’s back, fat bulging around the tail head, withers, shoulders and neck, and fat along the inner buttocks that may rub together.

Between these two extremes a horse can be very thin, moderately thin, moderate, moderate to fleshy, fleshy, and fat. The moderate classification is probably what most of us want to see in our horses. The back is level, ribs cannot be seen, but easily felt when touched with your fingers. The withers appear smooth and the shoulders and neck blend smoothly into the body

These mares are at a good weight to provide milk for their foals.
These mares are at a good weight to provide milk for their foals.

Between these two extremes a horse can be very thin, moderately thin, moderate, moderate to fleshy, fleshy, and fat. The moderate classification is probably what most of us want to see in our horses. The back is level, ribs cannot be seen, but easily felt when touched with your fingers. The withers appear smooth and the shoulders and neck blend smoothly into the body.

Sometimes a long, thick winter coat can fool us into thinking our horse is fatter that he really is. It is a good idea to feel along the rib cage to judge the amount of fat your horse is carrying during those months. Cold weather demands more energy for your horse to stay warm and can be a critical time of weight lose.

A young horse, if fed improperly might be fat, but his bones and muscles need protein to grow and develop. So, fat is not necessarily healthy. But, for a pregnant mare or mare nursing a foal, some extra fat can be good. She needs that energy reserve to meet the foal’s demands.

A balanced diet is as important in regulating your horse’s weight as the amount you feed him. While a high-energy ration may be required for a racehorse, a young growing horse has higher protein needs. Your county extension service’s livestock agent can help you determine your horse’s nutritional needs according to its age and amount of work it does.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • irtkris profile image

      irtkris 

      7 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Great hub.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)