How do you work on your horse’s pace ?
In order to work on the quality of pace, you have to work on impulsion first.
Impulsion should not be confused with speed. Impulsion is the forward-moving energy that a horse displays all the time. It can be used for collecting or for extending gaits. It is the horse’s desire to carry himself forward.
To work on impulsion, always start your session with a warm-up. As you warm-up, your horse will start to become more supple. You can apply your legs. His trot will have more elevation. When you notice that your horse is in a nice round outline, his trot will have a better quality.
You can control the pace, and for example, get your horse to slow down simply by slowing your rising trot. This will interfere with the horse’s rhythm and he will adapt to yours and slow down his cadence.
Whatever the gait, a nice pace requires good impulsion. You must therefore be able to extend or collect your horse without deteriorating the quality of the pace.
One exercise you can work on: You can start by placing two poles on the ground, about seven or eight strides apart. The aim is to vary the number of strides between these poles. This will highlight whether your horse has enough impulsion or not.
Begin by counting the number of strides the first time round. Be careful, in order to count the strides correctly, you must count ‘ZERO’ on the “line entry jump” (when your horse jumps the first pole with his forelegs). Then, try to add one stride in the line. And finally, remove one. If your horse remains well balanced in all three cases, then he is in the right pace!
Once you have tried this exercise, jumping is another good way to check the quality of the pace (in canter). If the jump is good, then it means that the pace was good. Be demanding on your horse’s balance and impulsion. It is fundamental.
Impulsion is one of the basic criteria for a good pace (along with balance). A correct pace allows you to collect, or extend the gait, or jump without any problems.
Do you have difficulties varying your horse’s pace ? Do you have trouble getting good impulsion when jumping ? Leave me a comment here.