IMPULSION IN THE DRESSAGE HORSE

Horse Training Online

 

Impulsion in the horse, is controlled power. It is fourth on the “German Training Scale”. It is the desire to go forward but not running with speed but under the control of the rider, at any desired tempo. Impulsion is the amount of activity created to cause more energy and thus expression in the paces.

 

A horse can only “engage” by coming more on his haunches and therefore showing collection, if the first ingredients of the scale are achieved (relaxation, rhythm,contact) before adding impulsion. If we try and ride the horse forward in an attempt to create impulsion but the horse isn’t relaxed, swinging over it’s back and going into a good contact to the riders hand, it will just run quicker with shorter steps and no cadence will be evident. This is not correct impulsion.

 

not engaged compared to engaged…….

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trotting-horse

 

A horses paces should become more elastic and expressive with impulsion. Appearing light on his feet, with big open steps. A horse that has good impulsion is in front of the riders leg. It travels freely forward without the rider having to push it to keep it going. It should appear like it is traveling on its own whilst waiting for the riders next command with anticipation and attentiveness.

 

Impulsion is created from the riders leg aids. It is the responsiveness to go when asked. A good rider only asks the horse to go with an almost invisible aid and then sits still allowing the horse to carry him without interfering with his horse and giving conflicting other aids with seat or hand. He will adjust the horses forwardness with the seat and hand aids according to what he is asking for. Like transitions from extended to collected and passage to piaffe etc.

 

In order to get a light horse to the leg, you need to give a single soft aid first. If the response isn’t sufficient then a strong abrupt leg aid needs to follow immediately to enforce the ask. If still an adverse response is given by the horse, the rider must correct with a negative aid like a spur or whip. If consistent and quick in your response you can train the horse to be in front of your leg. But only if you are in balance and not giving restrictive aids by hand and seat at the same time as the leg aid. A horse can only react to one aid at a time. If consecutive aids are given, confusion sets in and will result in either a horse rushing due to tension or shutting down.

 

Once in front of the leg. The rider can influence the impulsion within the paces. Asking for upward transitions that are seamless and even affecting how big or small the passage steps  for example are ridden, governing amount of ground cover and height in the steps. It also trains the quickness of the horses hind legs.This is the control the rider needs to aim for, to achieve correct collection and engagement.

 

There is a very fine line between the horse being alert , in front of the leg and getting “hot” to ride. We want him to react immediately to the ask of forward, but that means we need to be accurate too. Most horses go around Dull to the riders aids. This is because of conflicting messages given to the horse and him becoming turned off to his rider as a result.

 

If the prior ingredients of the German training scale aren’t in place before asking for impulsion, it can result in several issues.

 

    • The horse running and tempo becoming too quick.
    • Irregularity within the pace due to contact issues.
    • Irregularity due to a loss of rhythm.
    • Tension resulting in a tight back and a shortening of steps.

 

All of which cause a lack of cadence. What is our aim in dressage? We want to achieve a harmonious, lovely picture of power and an ease of the movements performed. A happy partnership!!!! The horse should flow from one movement to the next smoothly with a confidence and looseness that makes it look easy.

 

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