By Mark Andrews
A new Equine Body Condition Scoring app has been produced by scientists at the University of Glasgow (Scotland).
Obesity in equines is not a new problem. However, the increasing number of obese horses and ponies, predominantly in the leisure industry, has now become a globally recognised welfare concern.
Carrying excess weight contributes to various problems. It increases the stress on the horse’s skeletal system; can limit reproductive performance; can adversely affect athletic performance; and may lead to an increased risk of laminitis, osteoarthritis, heat intolerance, and certain types of colic.
The Equi-BCS app was developed by Katie Williams, an equine nutritionist, as part of her PhD research at the University.
The app lets owners record and share their horse’s weight data, which should make it easier for professionals to help horse owners keep their horse’s weight on track. This feature also supports horses that are not holding their weight, so health issues can be spotted early.
“One of the toughest challenges for any horse owner is keeping weight off their horse, and previous studies have shown that horse owners tend to underestimate their horse’s body condition score,” says Williams. “To succeed, a collaborative approach is required including vets, nutritionists, and farriers working together with horse owners.”
The app contains detailed images and instructions to help horse owners score their horse accurately, and photos can be uploaded and stored so that horse owners can remind themselves of how their horse has looked in the past.
Research in human weight tracking apps has shown that frequency of use correlates with greater success and so an important feature of the app is that it will notify users when they are due to assess their horse again.
“It is incredible how quickly a horse can change and so monitoring regularly, ideally every two weeks, is key. Receiving a reminder will provide the prompt that many people need to ensure they take time to assess their horse and either make adjustments to the ration, or seek advice from their vet or nutritionist,” adds Williams.
The Equi-BCS app can be downloaded for free from Apple’s app store or Google Play.
Published with the kind permission of Mark Andrews, Equine Science Update.
Photo: Dreamstime/Brian Sedgbeer