Equine feed company Spillers is helping horse owners “get their eye in” on Body Condition Scoring (BCS) by running an online test to see who can spot an overweight horse or pony.
The test involves assessing photographs of 15 horses and marking their BCS using the 1-9 scale.
Obesity is a major welfare issue for horses and ponies, not only because of the direct weight-associated effects, but also because of the increased risk it poses for certain clinical conditions, in particular laminitis.
“These days when we are exposed to so many images of horses and ponies on social media, it’s good to know if you can spot an overweight horse from a photo alone,” said Clare Barfoot RNutr, Marketing and Research and Development Director at Mars Horsecare UK, home of the Spillers brand. “Being able to spot an overweight horse is important as a first step in tackling the welfare issues that obesity presents our equines.”
Body Condition Scoring is a popular method of practically assessing the horse or pony’s level of fat covering across several areas of the body where fat is normally laid down. The assessment is made by eye and by touch using a numerical grading system. The Spillers team use the 1-9 scale based on the method developed by Henneke et al (1993) but there are other scales available.
Whilst touch is a key part of Body Condition Scoring, it is also very useful to learn how to make an assessment just by eye.
“With so many horses and ponies in the UK carrying a few extra pounds, the question is have we normalised overweight horses?” Barfoot says. “We have designed our test to help you to assess your ability to spot an overweight horse and ‘get your eye in’ on what constitutes a healthy weight.”