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  • Writer's pictureCrystal Forsell

Collective Remarks: Impulsion = Energy and Carrying Power! 💪


When I was first showing horses and new to dressage, I didn’t understand what impulsion was.

I thought we were strictly talking about forward energy. 🙈

I know I am not the only one, so let’s clear up exactly what impulsion is!

There are two main parts of impulsion: forward energy AND carrying power which can be broken down more into: 

  1. desire to go forward

  2. elasticity of the steps

  3. suppleness of the back, 

  4. engagement of the hindquarters.

Desire to go forward:

Does the horse look like they are moving freely along of their own accord, or is the rider prodding them along the arena?

Elasticity of the steps:

The topline can expand and contract creating buoyancy in the gait and absorbing concussion.  Air time!  Remember, speed (quick tempo) will reduce suspension or time in the air.

Suppleness of the back:

A swinging, supple back allows the hind leg to come under the body and engage.  The abdominals become part of the circle of energy.

The walk:

It is important to note, that because the horse always has a hoof on the ground, there is no suspension and the walk does not have impulsion.

Some visual indicators of having good impulsion are the flexion of the grounded hind leg, lowering of the croup (which in turn the whither will become higher), the hind legs step under instead of pushing out behind the body. 

The horse should look like he is going along pleasantly.

Do not confuse hock action up and down for engagement, the hocks need to step under.

One of the ways I like to build a little more impulsion is any variety of transitions within the gait.  They will also get a little quicker to your aids, as well as start to accordion through their body and hopefully develop more impulsion!

If you need to work on impulsion, Dressage To Go has exercises for you!

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