Is There a 'Perfect' Weight for a Horse?
My horse is approx. 15.1 hands, and is 966 lbs. What is the best weight for a horse? I have been told he needs to lose weight.
– BS, Alabama
Most experts agree that the “best” weight for a horse is somewhere in the 4 to 6 range on the Henneke Body Condition Scoring Scale, with 5 being ideal. Of course, this often depends on what you do with your horse, as racehorses and event horses are kept more on the 4 side of the scale while halter horses and hunters are kept more on the 6 end of the scale. But for general health purposes, aim for a 5.
What do all these numbers mean? Body Condition Scoring or BCS is a standard system that ranges from 1 which is the thinnest to 9 which is the fattest. Now you can see why a score of 5 is considered ideal! Using this system, the degree of body fat in relation to body muscle is evaluated both visually and by palpation in six different areas on the horse’s body: the neck, behind the shoulder, the withers, ribs, loin (lumbar vertebrae) and tailhead. (See related Ask the Vet blog: How to Body Condition Score Your Horse)
Using this system, everyone in the horse community—whether owners, trainers, veterinarians, nutritionists or others—can communicate with everyone else in the same language. Knowing the height and weight of a horse is not enough information because horses come in all shapes and sizes. But if you tell me your horse is a 7 or 8 on the Henneke Body Condition Scoring Scale, NOW we can have a conversation about weight management! Hint: check out our small hole hay nets!