True Impulsion versus Running when Riding

True Impulsion versus Running when Riding

True Impulsion versus Running when Riding

True Impulsion versus Running when Riding

What this episode is all about & how it can help you:-

  • What is impulsion
  • What is necessary for you to maintain impulsion
  • How to know if the energy is “falling out”
  • Working towards consistent impulsion

We have all been there…   In the saddle and wanting to do something.  You ask for ‘more’ but instead of being able to harness that energy, it tends to just fall out the front end!

This episode of the Daily Strides Podcast is all about what impulsion is, and how you can use it in your riding.

What is Impulsion?

Impulsion is basically the energy that is created within yourself and your horse as you are riding, in order to do something. If you are moving forward with a sense of purpose, you have created energy.

However, true impulsion is not just the creation of the energy, but the actual management of the energy.

Having the energy to work with is not enough.  You must learn how best you can tap into it.  The energy must be a resource which you can use when you need it.  This can be a certain movement.  A specific question you ask your horse.  Maybe a transition or a jump.  A lengthening or shortening. All of these things, if ridden and performed correctly, need to have impulsion present.

Impulsion versus Running

Many riders go wrong by forgetting (or not realising) that true impulsion takes quite a bit of training in order to really master it. They create ‘running’, rather than true impulsion.

Running and impulsion are two very different things.  What is necessary in order to maintain impulsion, the preceding ‘steps’ in your horses training program, are often missing or not well established.  It can feel like your horse is diving forward like an arrow.  The energy is present, however the management of that energy is lacking.

True impulsion creates a feeling of lightness.  This is due to the presence of self-carriage from your horse.  Self carriage can only be developed with correct training over time…

What is Necessary for You to Maintain Impulsion?

One of the simplest ways to understand impulsion is to look at where it ‘resides’ in the steps of the traditional Training Scale.  The principles or steps that come before or underneath it need to be present in order for it to be present. Relaxation, rhythm, suppleness and contact.  Once those steps are present, then you can then begin working on true impulsion.

However, I personally think that you can begin working on this from the beginning.  Forwardness is key in riding.  It is energy.  The true management that comes with impulsion may not be present, however cultivating forwardness the beginning of it.

Before you work on anything else, it is important to ensure that both you and your horse are thinking forward. Again, impulsion is the management of forwardness.  In order to begin managing, you need to have something to manage – the energy.

Recognising When the Energy is ‘Falling Out’

As already mentioned, running feels very much like everything is falling out the front end. Sometimes it can look and feel like heaviness; carrying the weight of your horse on your shoulders!  Running is exhausting for both horse and rider.

Running or falling out is your lack of any real influence or impact on what is happening with the energy.

I hesitate to use the word control, simply because a lot of riders then feel that they need to control the situation. You can only control yourself.  You can never truly control your horse. You influence your horse. Which is why running is a result of not having the required amount of influence over the horse.

Another way a lack of impulsion can feel is when there is nothing coming through. Sometimes there is not enough energy being created in the first place. There is nothing there to connect through. Falling out can also be through the shoulders, the hind quarters.  Anywhere that there is a lack of energy or management when it comes to the ride.

How You Can Begin Working on Improving Impulsion

I’m going to suggest the most obvious and less exciting path; the one of going back to basics! Begin working on the energy today, even if the basics are not in place. Work through your schooling movements with a focus on forwardness, which will eventually become true impulsion.

Forwardness is to have your horse both moving and thinking forward. The ‘thinking’ part is very important. Many riders forget this, however it is a vital component to the horse moving and working correctly.

Once you have established forwardness in all you are doing, then you can begin ‘tidying things up’. This is where your rhythm, relaxation, working into the contact, ensuring your horse is nice and supple and make sure he is working through his back all come into play.

Incorporate transitions up and down.  Be mindful of when and how you apply your half-halt. The key is consistently riding through the basics correctly.

Correct Management Depends on You

Impulsion is management, and it is your ability to manage all those things. I believe that the training scale is just as important for riders as it is for the horses. Work on establishing YOUR rhythm, YOUR relaxation, YOUR suppleness.

There must be a constant progress, building, happening in your riding. Strength comes from true suppleness. Make sure you understand fully what contact is, and that you are showing up each and every ride being the consistent contact.

When those pieces are in place, you can then begin to effectively manage the energy as it is flowing through. That is true impulsion.

Think of all the parts of your body that you are using to make a connection with your horse.  It is truly working with all your different aids to build both you and your horse that results in true impulsion.

Happy Riding


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