Breeding Guide Resources


Nutrition Resources

Tools, tips and expert guidance, for choosing the right feeding program for you and your horse.

Estimate your horse's energy requirements

Use this calculator to estimate the calories your horse needs per day and how many they're currently getting from their hay, to determine any adjustments to their forage or feed.


It can be challenging to identify how much to cut back or add to your horse's diet. We recommend starting with a body condition score (BCS) for your horse, then estimating weight. Using both will help you more accurately set weight goals, provide enough daily forage (1.5-2% of body weight), and select a feed.


About body condition scoring

The Henneke body condition scoring system, based on a 1-9 scale, is the gold standard. More comprehensive than weight, a body condition score evaluates specific areas of fat accumulation, accounting for factors like breed and age.

Most horses, including performance horses, stallions and growing horses, should be in a body score of 5-6. Typically, vets recommend broodmares maintain a score closer to 6, and never below a 5, due to the significant risks to underweight mares during breeding, gestation and birth.

Horses over a score of 7 may be at a higher risk for developing metabolic issues. Broodmares can also be at risk for passing on such to their foals during pregnancy.

Areas of assessment

Horses are scored on a scale from 1 (poor) to 9 (extremely fat) based on fat deposits in six areas:

A. Along the Neck
B. Along the withers
C. Crease down back
D. Tailhead
E. Ribs
F. Behind shoulder

Scoring each area



Horse is extremely emaciated. Spinous processes, ribs, tail head, hooks, and pins project prominently. Bone structure of withers, shoulders, and neck easily noticeable. No fatty tissue can be felt


Very thin

Emaciated. Slight fat covering over base of the spinous processes, transverse processes of lumbar (loin area) vertebrae feel rounded. Spinous processes, ribs, tail head, hooks, and pins are prominent. Withers, shoulders, and neck structures are faintly discernible.



Fat is built up about halfway on spinous processes, transverse processes cannot be felt. Slight fat cover over ribs. Spinous processes and ribs are easily discernible. Tail head is prominent, but individual vertebrae cannot be visually identified. Hook bones appear rounded, but are easily discernible. Pin bones are not distinguishable. Withers, shoulders and neck are accentuated.


Moderately thin

Negative crease along back (spinous processes of vertebrae protrude slightly above surrounding tissue). Faint outline of ribs is discernible. Fat can be felt around the tail head; however, the tail head may or may not be visible depending on the breed. Hook bones are not discernible. Withers, shoulders and neck are not obviously thin.



Back is level. Ribs cannot be visually distinguished, but can be easily felt. Fat around tail head begins to feel spongy. Withers appear rounded over spinous processes. Shoulders and neck blend smoothly into body.


Moderately fleshy

May have slight crease down back. Fat over ribs feels spongy. Fat around tail head feels soft. Fat begins to be deposited along the sides of the withers, behind shoulders and along neck.



May have crease down back. Individual ribs can be felt, but with noticeable filling of fat between ribs. Fat around tail head is soft. Fat is deposited along withers, behind shoulders and along neck.



Crease down back. Difficult to feel ribs. Fat around tail head is very soft. Area along withers is filled with fat. Area behind shoulder is filled with fat and flush with rest of the body. Noticeable thickening of neck. Fat is deposited along inner thighs.


Extremely fat

Obvious crease down back. Patchy fat appears over ribs. Bulging fat around tail head, along withers, behind shoulders and along neck. Fat along inner thighs may rub together. Flank is filled with fat and flush with rest of the body.


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