Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Not Engaging or Collecting, Lacks Impulsion

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • To rule out physical issues that may be causing the problem.

For most riding disciplines, strong engagement of the hindquarters and upward rounding of the back is required for proper performance. Factors that can interfere with this include pain causing musclulo-skeletal problems. The most common pain-related causes are back soreness and lameness.

Horses with neurologic problems also have difficulty coordinating collected movement. Rarely, inability to collect results from problems originating in other body systems. An example is a horse with low-grade abdominal pain (colic), most commonly from gastric ulcers. Lack of fitness is a common cause for an inability to work in a collected manner. Beyond that, there are countless training and rider factors that could be involved.


Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE). Look closely at all of the limbs for signs of swelling, a pain response, or resistance to handling the limb. Feel for digital pulse. Assess the horse’s back. Assess lameness at the walk and trot. Assess your tack fit and condition. Touch and press the skin and deeper tissues of the horse’s back and girth- anywhere there is normally contact with the saddle. Look for a pain response, heat, swelling, and look for saddle rubs and sores. Check the back for dry spots under a wet saddle blanket, and look for white hairs that might indicate pressure points from the saddle. Share your findings and concerns with your vet. Consider having someone take a video of your performance issues. Have a qualified trainer ensure that riding and training is appropriate.


Many of the physical problems affecting performance at this level are subtle and may be difficult to diagnose. Talk to your vet about performing a lameness exam. In some cases, a bute trial may be helpful to separate a physical from training problem. Once physical problems have been ruled out by your vet, you can focus on the training and conditioning necessary to improve performance.

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.