SPILLERS has used its latest studies, conducted via the Waltham Equine Studies Group and its international collaborators, to develop a new Body Condition Index (BCI) tool.
The new easy-to-use tool has been derived to assess fat accumulation in horses and ponies more objectively than previous systems and is available on the new SPILLERS website.
The researchers believe the new BCI may be easier and more sensitive than body condition scoring (BCS) for tracking changes in condition.
It has been developed primarily to help identify horses and ponies that are likely to be overweight or obese, thus providing horse owners with a more objective monitoring method to help prevent obesity and its associated risks.
Obesity, which may be as high as 70% in some populations of ponies, is a major welfare issue, not only because of the direct weight-associated effects, but also due to its association with equine metabolic syndrome and an increased risk of laminitis.
Accurate assessment of fat deposits can help identify levels of obesity and assist with the monitoring of weight loss. Body Condition Scoring is a popular method of practically assessing the horse or pony’s level of fat covering across several areas of the body where fat is normally laid down.
The assessment is made by eye and by touch using a numerical grading system, but it is subjective and can be imprecise, especially when used by more inexperienced assessors.
Sarah Nelson, product manager at Mars Horsecare, said: “This exciting new work further improves our previous equine BCI, initially published in 2015.
“It includes additional measurements, for example, body length and has undergone validation in more horses and ponies.”