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Horse Health 101 : Horse Health Library : Nutrition

Equine Topline Evaluation Scoring (TES) Chart

Use this Topline Evaluation Chart, developed by Progressive Nutrition, to evaluate your horse's topline. Horses are scored on a scale from A-D. "A" being an ideal well muscled topline and "D" being the poorest of toplines.

A poor topline, one that is lacking muscle, is an indication of a diet that is deficient in amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for protien. It is important to note, no matter how hard you work to build muscle across your horse's topline via exercise, without a balanced diet, your efforts may be futile.

Learn more about poor nutriiton and muscle loss.


The horse has the "ideal muscle development".

  1. The back, loin and croup are full and well rounded.
  2. The topline muscles are well developed and blend smoothly into his ribs.
  3. The horse should be able to perform work requiring the use of all of these muscles.


The 'back area is concave' (sunken), between the vertebrae and the top of the ribs.

  1. You may have trouble fitting this horse with a saddle.
  2. The muscle atrophy in this area may cause back soreness when worked.
  3. Soreness can negatively impact their attitude and performance.
  4. The loin muscles are well developed and are the same height as the spinal processes.


The 'back and loin areas are concave' (sunken), between the vertebrae and the ribs.

  1. The 'spinal processes' in the loin area are higher than the muscles beside them and can easily be seen and palpated.
  2. The atrophied muscles in the back and loin areas weaken the horse.
  3. The length of time they are able to work will be compromised, causing them to tire easily.
  4. Muscling over the croup and hindquarters are well developed and rounded.


The "entire topline is concave" (sunken) including the back, loin and croup areas.

  1. The croup appears pointed at the top since the vertebrae and hip bones are higher than the muscles in-between them.
  2. In severely affected horses, the width of their stifle is narrower than the width of their point of hip.
  3. This horse will lack the strength and stamina to perform and the muscle atrophy will cause discomfort when worked.
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