I wrote that.
It is a correct statement.
However, most will not listen, they just start shouting, that is wrong.
Dressage judges have for a very long time, been instructed to use the term 'marching' or 'active' for the walk, as in 'needs to march more' or 'good marching quality'. The well trained dressage judge STILL avoids the use of the word. They are trained not to relate 'impulsion' to the walk. Why is this? Because technically, there is no impulsion at the walk. There is only impulsion in gaits with a period of suspension.
Today, many people use the word 'impulsion' to mean only 'forward' or even, 'obedient', as in, 'when I use my leg, he goes forward eagerly'. That at all times, the horse eagerly wants to go forward. That even in a halt, there is a feeling from the rider of the horse's eagerness to move on. That is how Nuno Olivera used the word in his writings. This is even found in the USEF dressage rule verbiage, such as in the training level test, where the word 'impulsion' is used.
Of course, 'forward' is absolutely necessary. 'Forward' is a 'baby' version of impulsion. 'Forward' is a prerequisite for impulsion. So is obedience.
Because there is a trend to use dressage words for all types of riding, and so to generalize and homogenize their meaning, and because many non-dressage instructors want to add dressage riders to their customers, there has been a general 'erosion' of the actual, technical meaning of a lot of terms for dressage.
If you try to go for the more correct meaning of the word, you're making people look bad. People who use the term in the more generalized sense, or even, don't understand the difference between 'forward' and 'impulsion'.
In most cases, it doesn't matter. Most people never move up. Something like 92% of the dressage tests ridden in the US are at Intro and Training level, and at those levels, if you call the desire to go forward, 'impulsion', who cares. What difference does it make? None.
Impulsion becomes more and more important as the rider tries to move up. It is developed through training, by using half halts to 'contain' the forward energy and as some people call it, 'recycle' the energy to the hind quarters. Others refer to a 'circle of the aids'. That is why impulsion is referred to as 'contained energy'.
A horse can very easily be 'forward' and not have 'impulsion'.
When a horse has correct 'impulsion', it creates more 'suspension' in the gaits. Suspension does not refer to lift or elevation or even bending of the joints, but to the amount of time the horse's feet are completely clear of the ground and not weight bearing.
In the walk, there is always one leg on the ground, meaning, that whenever one leg leaves the ground, another leg is then on the ground. There is no 'leap' or 'bounce' in the walk.
Even so, the walk is ridden very much like the other gaits, with half halts, with energizing the horse to move forward actively. However, because the walk does not (cannot) have impulsion, it's a delicate matter to train in the walk without destroying its qualities.
Many say that this is all completely nonsense and the walk can have impulsion and forward=impulsion.
That's fine, but then why were judges so carefully trained to make a distinction between 'forward' and 'impulsion', and why do so many people fail to make the leap from the lower levels? Maybe because they don't understand the difference.
With actual impulsion, in the more technical sense, the rider is able to make a half halt, and it can be visibly seen, how it effects the angles of the hind legs and haunches. It has a visible, immediate effect.
I'm not writing this to change any minds. I'm writing to explain the meaning of the words and why I stated that.
People will think what they want to think. And especially with the generalization of dressage words, the proper meaning is being eroded even in dressage. Too, if someone has never gone up the levels, they're unlikely to understand that the 'circle of the aids' (except for being able to repeat the theory) and the use of 'contained' energy to make the more difficult work possible.
However, it's good to think about, how different the walk is from the trot and canter, and to remember when schooling to be careful not to make it an impure gait or slow, dragging gait.
Last edited by slc; 01-30-2011 at 11:13 AM.