Deciding whether your own horse is overweight can be dicey. To help you stay honest, we’ve devised the following checklist, adapted from the Henneke Body Condition Scale. (For more information on this scale and obesity in horses, read How to Assess Body Condition and How to Tell if Your Horse is Fat.) If you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, call your vet and ask him or her to help you further assess whether your horse is overweight–and therefore at risk for founder and Cushing’s disease.
1. It’s difficult to feel my horse’s ribs.
2. His crest feels thick and fleshy on either side of his mane, with the thickness extending down into his neck.
3. There’s an obvious crease down his back, with rising flesh on either side of it.
4. The flesh around his tail head is soft and/or mounded.
5. The area directly behind his shoulders is flush or almost flush with his body, instead of going in at the girthline.
6. His flank is flush or almost flush with his belly, rather than curving somewhat inward.
7. There are fat deposits along the inner surfaces of his buttocks, between his legs.