• Welcome to The National Pony Society - Established Since 1893

  • Questions?

    Send us an e-mail

    Call us on:

    01420 88333


    The NPS is very grateful to British Horse Society, World Horse Welfare and Zoetis for it’s help in producing these articles and guidance.
    C/S Neck Back & Ribs Pelvis
    0 Very Poor Marked ewe neck. Narrow and slack at base. Skin tight over ribs. Very prominent and sharp backbone. Angular, skin tight. Very sunken rump. Deep cavity under tail.
    1 Poor Ewe neck, narrow and slack base. Ribs easily visible. Prominent backbone with sunken skin on either side. Prominent pelvis and croup. Sunken rump but skin supple. Deep cavity under tail.
    2 Moderate Narrow but firm. Ribs just visible. Backbone covered but spines can be felt. Rump flat either side of back bone. Croup well defined, some fat. Slight cavity under tail.
    3 Good No crest (except for Stallions) Firm neck. Ribs just covered and easily felt. No gutter along the back. Backbone well covered but spines can be felt. Covered by fat and rounded. No gutter. Pelvis easily felt.
    4 Fat Slight crest. Wide and firm. Ribs well covered – need pressure to feel. Gutter to root of tail. Pelvis covered by fat. Need firm pressure to feel.
    5 Very Fat Marked crest very wide and firm. Fold of fat. Ribs buried, cannot be felt. Deep gutter along back. Back broad and flat Deep gutter to root of tail. Skin distended. Pelvis buried, cannot be felt.
    (Based on the Carroll and Huntington 1988 method)
    It is important to know and monitor your pony’s body condition score (BCS) for maintaining a healthy balance of feed and exercise. The method used for assessing body condition considers the deposition of body fat in different areas by separate examination of the neck, back, ribs, and pelvis. Individual ponies deposit their body fat in different areas of the body and this method takes account of the whole body. Individual neck, ribs and pelvis assessments are then combined to give an overall condition score. To obtain a body score, score each section out of 5 from the above table, add these three scores together and then divide that number by 3 and the outcome will be the overall BCS for that pony. For example, neck = 4, back and ribs = 3 and pelvis = 3, the overall score would be (4 + 3 + 3)/3 = 3.3 Judges and competitors are required to take particular note of the Body Condition Scoring Index. Judges will be using this index as part of their assessment of your pony.
    0 No visual appearance of a crest. No palpable crest.
    1 No visual appearance of a crest, but slight filling felt with palpation.
    2 Noticeable appearance of a crest, fat deposited fairly evenly from poll to withers. Crest easily cupped in one hand and bent from side to side.
    3 Crest enlarged and thickened, so fat is deposited more heavily in the middle of the neck than toward poll and withers, giving a mounded appearance. Crest fills cupped hand and begins losing side to side flexibility.
    4 Crest grossly enlarged and thickened, and can no longer be cupped in one hand or easily bent from side to side. Crest may have wrinkles/creases perpendicular to topline.
    5 Crest is so large it permanently droops to one side.
    (Based on the Carter et al 2009 method)
    Cresty neck scoring (CNS) is a separate score to body condition, but is just as useful when monitoring and maintaining a healthy weight for a pony. A CNS can be generated by using the images and descriptions from the table above. Scores range from 0 – 5 (0 being no crest and 5 being a very large crest). For more information and a full guide on body condition and cresty neck scoring please follow this link to the Animal Health Trust Website http://www.aht.org.uk/cms-display/cal_weight.html  


    • Know your pony’s worming history. If you have bought a pony and don’t know its previous worming history consider quarantining , faecal worm egg testing and treating for encysted small redworm on arrival before integrating it with others. A blood sample can be taken to guide the need for tapeworm treatment. – Manage your pastures. Remove droppings daily (even twice weekly will be of some help), avoid over stocking and rest pastures sufficiently, bearing in mind that eggs and larvae can survive for several months. All these precautions will help decrease the worm burden and extend the length of time a wormer will work.
    • Know the main parasites: small redworm, large redworm, tape worm, pinworm and bots are the most common in adult horses. In foals and weanlings, large roundworm (ascarids) are a concern.
    • Target your worming strategy accordingly.
    • Test how many eggs are being passed onto the pasture in droppings (‘shed’)with a Faecal Worm Egg Count (FWEC) to identify a) the pony/ponies which particularly need worming and b) what you are treating.
    • Be aware that a FWEC cannot help you identify encysted small redworm, which burrow into the gut wall and can effectively “hibernate” there through the Autumn and Winter before a potentially fatal larval emergence in Spring.
    • Similarly, a FWEC will not identify tape worms, which may need a saliva or blood test to identify.
    • Treat all horses (over approx. 6 months of age) for encysted small redworm in late Autumn or Winter.
    • Use a weight tape or scales to accurately assess your pony’s weight and thus accurately calculate dosage. Under dosing can increase the risk of resistance.
    • Foals and youngstock require specific worming regimes to ensure resistance.
    • Be aware that wormers are prescription medicines and information about them is always changing. Don’t be afraid to seek advice to ensure you have the most up to date information.
    Based on Dr Wendy Talbot of Zoetis’ presentation at the BHS Welfare Conference 2017. For further information see www.horsedialog.co.uk/worming-time-it-right


    Know what “normal” is for your pony (e.g. normal heart rate, temperature and breathing rate) so you can quickly identify if something is wrong. Signs can be very varied and can include:
    • a pony being restless or agitated, repeatedly rolling or attempting to lie down, box walking or sweating;
    • abdominal pain, pony watching its own flanks, pawing the ground or kicking its stomach;
    • eating less or nothing;
    • passing less or no droppings or a change in consistency in the droppings;
    • lying down more, a lower head position, or appears dull and depressed;
    • clinical change such as an increased heart rate, reduced or absent gut sounds, changes in gum colour, rapid breathing rate, skin abrasions over the eyes (this is not an exhaustive list).
    If in doubt, don’t wait, call the vet. Acting quickly is important, particularly in severe cases.
    • Remove feed, haynets and water buckets from the stable.
    • Gentle walking can help but if the pony doesn’t want to walk, don’t force them.
    • Don’t prevent them from lying down if they want to.
    • If the pain is severe, put the pony in a safe environment, like a well -bedded stable or in an arena but keep them in control with a lunge line.
    • Be aware that the pony may be unpredictable: Wear a hard hat and gloves if possible.
    • If you have help, get transport ready to go in case the vet thinks further treatment off site is necessary.
    Based on the BHS and The University of Nottingham REACT Now to Beat Colic Campaign. Further information on this can be found at: www.bhs.org.uk/colic

    Respiratory Health in Stabled Horses and Ponies

    To prevent respiratory health in stabled horses and ponies the following is advised: Based on the BHS advisory leaflet Horse Respiratory Health. Further information on this and other equine welfare matters can be found at: www.bhs.org.uk