“Developed 25 years ago by Don Henneke, PhD, as part of his doctoral research, the BCS scale ranges from 1 (poor) to 9 (obese). Horses are scored based on visual and hands-on appraisals of six body areas where fat tends to accumulate in a predictable pattern.”
In the images we’ve chosen, depending on the person viewing, they may seen spot on or more/less, but these are all horses we have had within Heart of Phoenix, and they are all horses scored in the past via hands on exam and post vet care.
Hopefully, this HOP visual guide will prove helpful.
We are including the actual language to go along with the scores, as well.
It is widely used in equine health and neglect cases.
Neck, Withers and Shoulder: Bone structure easily noticeable
Ribs protruding prominently
Spinous processes projecting prominently
Tailhead, pinbones, and hook bones projecting prominently
Neck, Withers and Shoulder: Bone structure faintly discernible
Slight fat covering over base of spinous processes.
Transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae feel rounded. Spinous processes are prominent
Slight fat over ribs. Ribs easily discernible
Fat buildup halfway on spinous processes, but easily discernible. Traverse processes cannot be felt.
Tailhead prominent but individual vertebrae cannot be visually identified. Hook bones appear rounded, but are still easily discernible. Pin bones not distinguishable
Neck not obviously thin
Withers not obviously thin
Shoulder not obviously thin
Faint outline of ribs discernible
Negative crease (peaked appearance) along back Prominence depends on conformation.
Fat can be felt. Hook bones not discernible
Neck blends smoothly into body
Withers rounded over spinous processes
Shoulder blends smoothly into body
Ribs cannot be visually distinguished, but can be easily felt Back is level
Fat around tailhead beginning to feel soft
Fat beginning to be deposited
Fat over ribs feels spongy
May have a slight positive crease (a groove) down back
Fat around tailhead feels soft
Fat deposited along neck
Fat deposited along withers
Fat deposited behind shoulder
Individual ribs can be felt with pressure, but noticeable fat filling between ribs