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Want to Know if Your Horse is Overweight or Not? Check Out the Henneke System
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Want to Know if Your Horse is Overweight or Not? Check Out the Henneke System

Many horse owners believe that horses that are not in high-performance activities are likely to become overweight. However, there still no concrete evidence that supports this theory. Many have still no idea what a healthy horse will look like.

Fortunately, there’s one proven grading system that could be used by horse owners to determine whether their horses are overweight or not. That grading system is called Henneke Horse Body Condition Scoring System.  It was first developed by Dr. Don Henneke during his graduate study at the Texas A&M University.  

About the Henneke System

The Henneke Horse Body Condition Scoring System is a universal scale used to evaluate the amount of fat on a horse’s body condition. It based on the evaluation of the six major part of the horse, where the body fats typically accumulate. The six major parts of the horse are the neck, ribs, withers, loin, tailhead, and shoulder.

The system was introduced to the public in the early 1980s, with the goal of creating a moiré effective way of evaluating horse’s bodyweight. The system can also be used across all horse breeds without using any specialized pieces of equipment.

How the Henneke System Works

In Henneke Body Scoring System, the horse's body condition is assessed visually and through palpation. The Henneke Body Scoring Condition Chart describes the horse’s body condition scores, which could range from 1 to 9 with 1 being the poor and 9 being the overweight. Scores from each part of the horse’s body are totaled and then divided by 6. The result is the horse’s final score on the Henneke Body Scoring Condition Chart. The system is so effective that being used by law enforcement agencies as a primary tool in evaluating a horse’s body condition, especially during animal abuse cases.

According to the non-profit organization Habitat for Horses, the ideal body condition score for a healthy horse is from 4 to 6, which indicate that the horse has a proper and well-balanced feed. Monitoring a horse’s body condition may prove to be crucial tools in preventing potential health or management problems. However, body condition score can be affected by a number of factors, which include weather, horse exercise, feed intake, some tooth issues, parasitic issues, reproduction issues and even equine metabolic diseases. 

Overall, well-balanced feed and proper management could always result in a proper body condition and healthy horse.

Video Credit: SmartPak

Image Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons 

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