Saturday, April 14, 2012

Body Condition

I wanted to share the Body Condition Scoring Chart that I found on Purina's Horse Feed webpage when I was researching Amplify. Amplify is a high calorie, high fat and high protein supplement that has low sugars and starches. It is meant to be used in conjunction with hay and grain to increase the calories, without increasing carbohydrates that can cause adverse health effects.

Horse Body Conditioning Chart


This images shows the areas where a horse should be carrying some body fat. 

A. Along the neck                 B. Over the withers                 C. Crease down the back
D. Tailhead                            E. Along the ribs                     F. Fat Behind the shoulder


Ashke has zero fat in any of these places. His neck is thin to the point where it is almost what is considered an ewe neck (think sheep and how their necks are concave at the top). His withers are bony and exposed, although the bone structure that was so very obvious upon first meeting him are now beginning to be covered with muscle. His hips and flanks were concave and are now starting to fill in, and although there are points in his body where the bones are still very obvious, most areas are showing improvement. Here is the definitions of degrees of body condition provided by Purina.

The Ideal Body Condition Score is between 5 and 6-1/2

1. Poor
Animal extremely emaciated; spinous processes, ribs, tailhead, tuber coxae (hip joints), and ischia (lower pelvic bones) projecting prominently; bone structure of withers, shoulders, and neck easily noticeable; no fatty tissue can be felt.

2. Very Thin

Animal emaciated; slight fat covering over base of spinous processes, transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae feel rounded; spinous processes, ribs, tailhead, tuber coxae (hip joints) and ischia (lower pelvic bones) prominent; withers, shoulders, and neck structure faintly discernable.

3. Thin

Fat buildup about halfway on spinous processes; transverse processes cannot be felt; slight fat cover over ribs; spinous processes and ribs easily discernable; tailhead prominent, but individual vertebrae cannot be identified visually; tuber coxae (hip joints), appear rounded but easily discernable;
tuber ischia (lower pelvic bones) not distinguishable; withers, shoulders and neck accentuated.

4. Moderately Thin

Slight ridge along back; faint outline of ribs discernible; tailhead prominence depends on conformation, fat can be felt around it; tuber coxae (hip joints) not discernable; withers, shoulders and neck not obviously thin.

5. Moderate
Back is flat (no crease or ridge); ribs not visually distinguishable but easily felt; fat around tailhead beginning to feel spongy; withers appear rounded over spinous processes; shoulders and neck blend smoothly into body.

6. Moderately Fleshy

May have slight crease down back; fat over ribs spongy; fat around tailhead soft; fat beginning to be deposited along the side of withers, behind shoulders, and along sides of neck.

7. Fleshy

May have slight crease down back; individual ribs can be felt, but noticeable filling between ribs with fat; fat around tailhead soft; fat deposited along withers, behind shoulders,and along neck.

8. Fat

Crease down back; difficult to feel ribs, fat around tailhead very soft; fat area along withers filled with fat, area behind shoulder filled with fat, noticeable thickening of neck; fat deposited along inner thighs.

9. Extremely Fat

Obvious crease down back; patchy fat appearing over ribs, bulging fat around tailhead; along withers, behind shoulders and along neck, fat along inner thighs may rub together; flank filled with fat.


As you can see from the list, Thee Ashke started in the Poor range and I believe he has moved into the Very Thin range. He is starting to show some gains in areas - his ribs aren't as prominent as they were, his flanks are starting to fill out, his chest is no longer sunk in and has begun to broaden, his neck has begun to fill in and his shoulders are no longer so darn boney. However, his back and spine are still very boney, as are his hips. 

So, why the Amplify? The vet talked to the Barn Manager, G, after the shot clinic on Saturday (we had already left, not realizing he wanted to discuss Ashke's care) and told her that Ashke should be up to 2 - 3 lbs of grain per feeding and he needed a high fat supplement to help him gain weight. Ashke can't really do much more than that without adverse health risks, but we can give him a supplement that will increase the necessary fat and nutrients without increasing the carbs. G has used Amplify in the past and recommended it so we are going to go to the feed store and buy a couple of 50# bags today. 

I think that Ashke's overall attitude will improve as he begins to feel better. And as he begins to trust that we are going to keep him and feed him and call him George. Well, maybe not the George part. But the keeping him part we definitely are going to do.




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