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Are forward and impulsion the same thing?


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I've been thinking about this a lot lately as it has come up a few times in lessons over the last few months.  Actually it come sup often but the pattern has been pretty obvious lately so I thought I'd share some thoughts on this with everyone.  And basically, what is impulsion.

It seems that it can represent a few different things to different people - moving in a forward direction, moving with energy, moving with some element of speed, consistent and perpetual movement.  So you can see, it all just depends on how we see impulsion -or forward.  They are not really the same thing.

If you asked your horse to walk around you on a circle and they kept going, no matter how slow, until you asked them to stop, is this impulsion?  Or, if you asked your horse to go around you on the circle with some energy and stepping out but you had to remind them every so often to keep going, is this impulsion?

Energy is energy, it doesn't mean impulsion - they are two different things.

Speed is just speed, it also doesn't mean impulsion.

Impulsion is controlled forward energy.  Consistent movement.  That doesn't mean slobbing around either but it doesn't have to be fast.

Impulsion is free forward movement coming from the hindquarter - which is another element we forget.  A horse pulling itself along with its front end (heavy steering and stopping, choppy movement, hollow back) does not have impulsion no matter how fast it is going. 

To get true forward, the horse needs to be using its hind properly.  Bending its hocks and lifting its back so the hind legs can come right up underneath the horses body.  To do that, the back needs to be able to lift.  To do that, the horse needs to be laterally soft (from tail to nose) so its ribs can flex from side to side which frees up the back to lift up out of the way of the hind legs.  Only then can the shoulders free up and therefor have more forward reach.  This is what gives that nice free flowing forward, effortless feel.  The movement rolls from the back end, through the ribs, back and wither and out through the shoulders giving the feeling like you're really covering ground.

Some riders have more forward than their horses.  Some riders have less forward than their horses.  Neither is 'wrong' but it is important to recognise if either of these is you and your horse.  You might want more forward from your horse because you are more 'impulsive' (hot seat) but they might be giving you al they have right now.  Also it's important to not mix up energy or spirit with impulsion.  Your horse can be quite spirited but go no where much other than up and down.

Your horse's basic character is not going to change.  And we don't want it to do we?  Be bought our horses because we like them so we can't expect them to change.  We can however, give them (and us!!!!) a good education.  We can help our short horses to have impulsion (step out more) and our long horses to have good impulsion (not run off so much) by doing all of the impulsion programmes in the QS programme.  But please note....this will take time and a really good grasp of what those programmes are and what they are for.  If your horse has been short or long all their life and didn't get a good education early on then it is going to take some time and patience to achieve impulsion.  Remember, horses are flight response prey animals so this is hard wired into their very DNA.  Be patient, do the homework and it will come.  But as with all programmes in QS, as it says in your theory books, you may forever have to go back and check them out from time to time.  This is not a one off fix.  :)

You can't 'make' impulsion.  You can 'make' forward - lots of people do, with sticks, spurs, force and do on.  But you can create better forward and encourage impulsion by ensuring that your horse is laterally soft and using it's whole body properly.  Good posture and good self carriage can and should be achieved naturally and there are lots of great HiM exercises in QS that will help with all this.

:)

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Thanks for clarifying Meredith! It´s so good to be able to read this and re-read whenever one ( I ? lol ) might be struggeling with it ;) I have been pondering after our chat....yes, Zoe is a short horse, but additionally I feel that I am also kind of blocking her natural forward with my lower energy and because I´m somehow still not opening up enough...hmm...as you say, it´s good to recognise though. Now that I know I can work on it :)

 

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  • 4 months later...

Some really good points here Meredith.  Thankyou for sharing your thoughts with us :)

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