Duncan McLaughlin - latest ramblings
Body condition scoring is a visual assessment of your horse’s level of body fat. You get a body condition score by rating the amount of fat covering various anatomical landmarks against a linear scale. Usually six areas are rated: crest, wither, loin, tailhead, behind elbow, and ribs. Two scales are commonly in use; the US scale runs with values from one (emaciated) to nine (obese), whereas the Australian scale runs with values from zero (emaciated) to five (obese) – they are close but dont directly correspond. Each anatomical area is rated a value from the scale and these are averaged to give your horse’s overall body condition score.
As your horse’s fitness level increases two important things happen to his body fat stores. First, he is able to store more of those very important Intramuscular Triclycerides (IMTGs) between his muscles – refer to Fat: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly for a recap on IMTGs. Remember, the most important role that body fat plays for your athletic horse is as the fat source to replenish IMTGs after work. Second, he can more easily liberate and use energy directly from body fat stores for increasingly strenuous levels of exercise. So as your horse increases fitness you should expect to see an increase in lean muscle bulk and a decrease in body fat stores. Interestingly, fat from body stores is not lost equally: It seems likely that fat along the top of the back and the hindquarter is recruited more quickly than from other fat storage areas, leading to less fat storage along the posterior topline.