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Cresty neck score

A Cresty Neck Score (CNS) can be used as an additional way to assess fat along the top of a horse’s neck (known as the crest)

  • Last reviewed: 27th February 2024

The amount of fat deposited along the neck is heavily influenced by breed. A cresty neck is less commonly seen in thoroughbreds and more likely in cob types and stallions. 

A healthy CNS is 0-2. A score of 3 or higher has been linked to an increased risk of laminitis and Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS)1.  

Fat builds and reduces more slowly in the crest than in other places and once developed is unlikely to fully disappear due to changes in the cell tissue2. Therefore, don’t be disheartened if the crest fat doesn’t reduce like other areas. 

Get hands-on and score your horse’s crest from 0-5 by using the images and descriptions below. 


The crest can’t be seen or felt.


The crest can’t be seen but a small amount of fat can be felt. 


The crest can be seen but the fat is spread evenly from the poll to the withers. The crest can be held easily in one hand and is flexible and easy to bend from side to side. 


The crest is thick with a larger amount of fat in the centre of the neck than in the poll or withers. The crest fills one hand and is not so easy to bend from side to side. 


The crest is large and thickened with hard fat and can’t be held with one hand or bent easily from side to side. The crest may have creases along the top. 


The crest is extremely large and droops to one side.

  1. Fitzgerald DM, Anderson ST, Sillence MN, de Laat MA (2019) The cresty neck score is an independent predictor of insulin dysregulation in ponies. PLOS ONE 14(7)
  2. Rendle, D., et al (2018) Equine obesity: current perspectives UK-Vet Equine. 2(5).

How to fat score your horse

Weighing your horse is a useful monitoring tool but it doesn’t distinguish between muscle and fat. Also, horses are individuals and carry fat in different places.

Find out more
Health Clinic Image 2 Sophie Green