Impulsion is the transmission of controlled, propulsive energy generated from the hindquarters into the athletic movement of the eager horse. Its ultimate expression can be shown only through the horse’s soft and swinging back and is guided by a gentle contact with the rider’s hand.
Impulsion should not be confused with “action”, which refers to the horse’s inherent ability to take expressive, ground-covering trot steps. If the horse is working with impulsion, the moment of suspension will be more pronounced. However, it should not be exaggerated, because this is associated with incorrect hovering steps that result from tension, a stiff back and resistance.
The most important criteria of impulsion is the time the horse spends in the air rather than on the ground. Impulsion is, therefore, seen only in those paces that have a period of suspension. Therefore, impulsion is only possible in the trot, piaffe and passage. There can be no impulsion in the walk because there is no moment of suspension; therefore, in walk we talk about activity.
Impulsion is about the desire to go forward with the energy and carrying power that is produced from behind and goes to the bridle through a supple and swinging back. Impulsion allows the horse to move in a powerful and athletic way and to show elastic and expressive movement.
The impulsion is of good quality if the hocks are carried energetically forward and upward immediately after the feet leave the ground, rather than being carried only upward, or being drawn backward. The movement is absorbed by the horse’s back muscles, so that the rider can sit softly and go with the movement.
Impulsion is a question of training. The rider uses the horse’s natural pace and adds looseness, forward thrust and suppleness to it.
If the horse is pushed so hard that it quickens its steps, the moment of suspension is shortened because it puts its feet down sooner. In this case, even if the regularity is maintained, the tempo is too fast and the impulsion will suffer as a result. Speed, itself, has little to do with impulsion; speed results more often in a flattening of the paces.
The desire to go forward with hindlegs that pushes actively and that clearly overtrack in extensions is necessary. The horse covers more ground in medium and extended trot and canter, the hindlegs swinging through and forward in the moment of suspension.
The development and improvement of the impulsion is fundamental. It is important for the development of the forward thrust and the carrying power of the hindquarters. It is also a prerequisite for straightening the horse and for collection.

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