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The Horse Trust is ramping up their 2022 Healthy Body Condition Awards for Show Horses with more shows than ever signing up for the programme. 

The Royal International Horse Show, Great Yorkshire and Herts County are among over 40 affiliated and unaffiliated shows throughout the country that are participating in the programme to reward the show horses and ponies with the Healthiest Body Condition. Vets are working in conjunction with the judges to give each horse a body condition score and award a special green and gold rosette for the best score in a range of classes.  The British Equine Veterinary Association recognises that equine obesity is one of the highest-ranking equine health risks today and the aim of the programme is to encourage riders and producers to think about the weight of their show horses from health and wellbeing a point of view.

The RIHS have supported the programme since 2019, and plan to include more classes and a higher profile for the awards at this year’s event.  David Ingle, Director of Showing at the Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead and former Chairman of The Showing Council, said, “Showing is keen to become more educational and we are in an era of great improvement in equine welfare, with increasing scrutiny under social license.  This initiative shines a light on this important aspect of showing.  We will be making this award in more classes and highlighting the importance of correct weight to competitors at the RIHS this year”, said David.

What is The Weigh To Win Initiative?

The Horse Trust’s Programme is an important initiative to reward healthy equine body condition and raise awareness of healthy body condition in show horses.  Showing in particular is often seen to promote horses who are overweight and our aim is to challenge and educate on what is an ideal body condition.

The programme will run at events throughout the Showing season providing friendly, supportive advice and guidance to owners, riders and producers, both at the events and during online training sessions and webinars.

Jan Rogers, Head of Research and Policy at The Horse Trust, says, “We get very upset by seeing photos of underweight horses in the media, but in reality, far more horses are obese than are underweight. This is worrying for vets who are finding that they have to treat these horses with serious health conditions like Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Laminitis. Peoples’ perceptions of what is a healthy weight have shifted towards the higher body condition scores. We would like to help to reset this balance.”

Behavioural change scientist Dr Tamzin Furtado, from the University of Liverpool, created and piloted the scheme in collaboration with The Horse Trust in order to spread the word on how best to go about maintaining the healthiest weight. “Horses who are overweight or cresty are sometimes celebrated for their condition – and we want to slightly challenge that, by celebrating horses in ideal body condition”, said Tamzin, who is also running additional condition scoring clinics at shows this summer. Fellow Liverpool University graduate and vet, Ben Curnow, MRCVS, who judged body condition as part of the 2019 pilot programme, added, “It’s not about being critical of, or challenging the judges, just showcasing what ideal body condition looks like.”

The Horse Trust delights in sharing the success stories in their quest to see more healthy-weight horses. We will be featuring the stories of the Awards made across the media.

Beginning at the start of May 2022, selected show classes in participating shows (listed below and constantly being added to), are now assessing for body condition by a vet. The horses who have the healthiest body condition score are awarded a special green and gold rosette as a reward.

BSPS Scotland Spring Show

Herts County Horse Show

UK Ponies & Horses Summer Show

Rutland County Show

The NEDZ Aintree National Showing Show

Chapel and District Riding Club Open Show

Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby

Malton Show

Chiddingly Horse Show

Horsham District Riding Club – Open Annual Horse Show

Great Yorkshire Show

RAECTI Open Summer Show (Royal Artillery Equestrian Centre Thorney Island)

Wilmslow Riding Club Open Show

Hickstead RIHS

New Forest & Hampshire County Show

Goring & District Riding Club

Beaver Hall EC Show

Wilmslow Riding Club Open Show

For information and advice on obesity in horses visit Minster Equine Veterinary Practice’ s blog:

For further information and details of how to get involved in the 2022 programme, contact via email or telephone on 01903 892060

To follow this initiative keep an eye out on our social media platforms for #TheWeighToWin on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. On these channels we’ll be sharing more details including photos and comment from some of the winners.

*Featured photo courtesy of Holdsworth PR (RIHS – Drenrow Euphoric)

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