What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Not Engaging or Collecting, Lacks Impulsion


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.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • To rule out physical issues that may be causing the problem.
You also might be observing
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your role


What To Do

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.

your vet's role

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.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When are you noticing the problem?
  • When did the horse last perform to your expectations?
  • What is the horse's experience level and level of training?
  • What is your experience level?
  • What level of work is the horse being asked to perform?
  • Do you notice lameness or suspect any other physical problems?
  • What specifically is the problem?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

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further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP