Suppose a horse has a cresty neck score of two. If we reduce caloric intake slightly and exercise the horse 4-5 days per week, will the score return to zero if the horse loses weight? If so, will it return to zero if the horse has equine metabolic syndrome (EMS)? Cushing's disease? Thanks for your help.
Horses are given a cresty neck score (CNS) to determine degree of fat deposition and to more easily monitor changes in neck thickness. A narrow range of scores exists; a score of 0 would describe a neck with no crest, and a score of 5 would describe a massive crest that has shifted permanently to one side, called a fallen crest.
If the horse loses weight with a change in diet and activity, it should lose fat out of the subcutaneous layers all over its body. The fat that accumulates in the neck tissues is a little different than other body fat, and the amount lost on the neck may depend on the breed of the horse. Draft horses and draft crosses, some pony breeds, and Morgan horses may retain a bit more crestiness than members of other breeds. If the horse is hot-blooded like a Thoroughbred, it should lose all of the crest once it has achieved moderate body condition. Stallions of any breed might retain more crest than mares or geldings because deposition of fat in the neck is a secondary sexual characteristic.
If you can get a EMS horse to a body condition score of 4 or 5 and keep it in a consistent work program, it should resolve a lot of the issues with insulin resistance. The problem is getting the horse to lose that much weight. A structured schedule of near-daily exercise is usually necessary.