Reaching Your Horse’s Ability Through Impulsion

By: Charlie Roach

Impulsion has been defined by many professionals. Yet, the concept is still misunderstood. To truly understand impulsion one must experience it. Many confuse impulsion with speed. While it is true that impulsion usually demands a certain amount of speed, we must actually ask for more energy or effort from the horse.

To obtain impulsion, it is very important that we have an effective go forward cue. If your go forward cue is broken, go no further. The go forward cue must be in place prior to working on impulsion. Reinforce your cue as needed. Another way of saying the same thing. . If the horse is not listening to your legs it will be necessary to reinforce the cue until it becomes effective.
My personal description of impulsion is “captured energy.” Along with the captured energy we must have rear hocks well engaged. The power must come from the rear legs. With true impulsion there must be a rounding of the back.

    Putting it all together!

“Long and Low”: The desire for your horse to seek the ground with the bit. “Setting up Barriers”: The ability to” ask” your horse to flex at the pole willingly, and “Developing Impulsion” Your horse is obedient to the go forward cue, with engagement.

You are probably asking yourself, “what does that look like?” So here is an example: while riding, squeeze with your legs, then hold for an instant with the reins, then allow the horse to go into self carriage by releasing into gait.

In the example what have we actually done? Squeezing with your legs should bring up the energy and effort in the horse. This step should take no more than a second. Holding for an instant captures that energy. In this step, we are waiting for the horse to give us his or her face.

If we were successful with our lesson plan of setting up barriers, it should happen in an instant. One must wait until the horse gives you his or her face before releasing into gait. This also takes only and instant. Releasing your hands allows the rebalanced horse to search for face before releasing into gait. Which also takes a mere instant. Releasing one’s hands allows the rebalanced horse to search for self carriage.

Releasing your hands allows the rebalanced horse to make one of two decisions. Your horse will either remain in frame vertically flexed at the pole. This choice will enhance rear leg engagement and a rounded back which gives us more stride and more head shake. Or your horse is out of frame, losing vertical flexion, which requires you to ask for impulsion, ask for face, then release into gait.

This is a brief lesson plan to obtain a softer, more willing horse. For the pleasure walking horse it is a great tool. Successfully reaching these goals will enable you to obtain the balance and timing necessary to bring out all of your horse’s natural ability.

By implementing these articles; “Long and Low,” “Setting up Barriers”, and “Developing Impulsion.” You and your horse now have a lesson plan and the tools to carry your training to a new level.

Here are the links to the previous two articles
“Long and Low” article:

“Setting Up Barriers” article:

If you have any questions feel free to Email me at: Remember, “You are not a problem… You are my purpose!”

One Response to Reaching Your Horse’s Ability Through Impulsion

  1. Great article for Sweet Dixie Delight – would really like to set up a playday -have you “work/play with Dixie and I could work/play with a Horsenality charts on your horse’s. It would be grreat to see your mare – watch and see your lesson plan in action.