Forward Impulsion - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 06-23-2020, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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Forward Impulsion

I'm posting this in this forum, as it relates to eventually conditioning for endurance and CTR events (hopefully)!

I had started my journal for my mare, but have been horrible at updating it.

At any rate, this spring has been a bit inconsistent with getting trail miles on her. She had some good rides in May, but then early June she was off for a couple weeks. I got her out this past weekend for a camping/riding weekend and she did pretty good.

My problem with her is forward impulsion. She is SO SLOW on the trail and it is very difficult for her to keep up with the other horses. She shows zero forward impulsion....and sometimes she falls so far behind that the other horses are completely out of sight. Sometimes this bothers her and she will 'perk up' and try to catch up and other times she doesn't really care. I am getting super annoyed by her inability to keep up and then decide to play catch up - b/c it seems everything is her idea which isn't sitting well with me. And I am aware that my mare is not as fit as the other horses, however this happens on a trail ride where we are only walking.

I have tried putting her in the front to see if that will pique her interest, but she moves so slow the other horses/riders get annoyed and just walk past us and we end up in the back again.

I feel like I am constantly nagging at her to move faster and I'm pretty sure I will end up with a completely dead sided horse. I ride with spurs, and I've tried carrying a stick and giving her a swat, but again - I am having to nag at her to keep her pace up.

I have ambitions of doing endurance with her, but I am seriously doubting her ability and drive. Any tips on working on more forward movement? This mare seems more occupied with trying to eat every tree and bush that crosses our path. I have been getting after her, but I am open to different ideas and tips.
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post #2 of 15 Old 06-23-2020, 11:46 AM
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Do you carry a whip? My Pony has MUCH better impulsion when I carry my dressage whip. I haven't used it on him in forever, and when I did it was just a tiny tap, but just carrying it really improves things.

Like one of my instructors say, "They just know you have it and it makes a difference." I too don't want to just keep nagging with my legs. Carrying the whip, it's like I have a whole different Pony, and NO NAGGING!
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post #3 of 15 Old 06-23-2020, 12:18 PM
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I have a horse like that. I fix it with an exercise in the arena my coach taught me, works well. I got him going on the rail in a good forward trot. When he would slow down, instead of me killing my seat and legs all the time, I would use the dressage whip on his butt. When he would keep that pace for 3 or 4 times around the arena without being corrected, he got to walk. When I notice he starts to get doggie again, he gets the same exercise, usually about once a month. I suppose you could do this at any gait. Horses like these believe in conserving energy, lol.
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post #4 of 15 Old 06-23-2020, 12:25 PM
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A riding crop (or a green stick cut off a tree:) can indeed get the “molasses out of the hooves”:)

Before you do that, however, be absolutely certain she is in good health by having some blood work done.

The first thing I have noticed with EVERY single metabolic horse I am or have been acquainted with (real world or forum) is their lack of energy. They may (or not) start out with what is average energy for each of them but, about 15-20 minutes into the ride, they hit a figurative brick wall and can hardly put one hoof in front of the other.

There are other diseases that can cause lack of energy. Getting into CTR or endurance requires a really fit horse. It would not be fair to a horse to expect peak performance without first giving it a complete physical that includes blood work:):)
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post #5 of 15 Old 06-23-2020, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
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@ACinATX , I don't take my dressage whip as I hate carrying stuff all the time (and we are riding for 3+ hours). But I do grab branches from trees if I feel I might need them. It doesn't really make any difference to her - she still dawdles. But I suppose when schooling her at home or on shorter rides I could bring my whip and reinforce my leg a bit better.

@waresbear , thanks for the schooling exercise. I will give it a shot and see if it improves her cadence. On trail I did try getting her to trot out when she started to really dawdle, but it's like, she will trot and then when you allow her to walk, it is SO SLOW!! So I keep my leg on her, but then she just trots again. I know she has a faster walk, but getting it out of her is nearly impossible. It is like she has 2 gears - slow as molasses walk, or trot.

And I'll tell ya, it isn't fun doing the constant walk/trot transitions for a 3 hour trail ride. For multiple day rides.
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post #6 of 15 Old 06-23-2020, 12:32 PM
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Agree that a crop may do you some good.

I was expecting this post to be about going out alone, guess that's because my horses are lazy slugs when they're by themselves!

My only great advice to contribute is that I think it'll get better as she gets in shape. My 50 mile horse was purchased as an "only likes to walk, maybe can occasionally be convinced to trot, will probably never canter" family horse. As soon as he got into shape he turned into quite the speed demon and can out trot most horses and I never need to do more than say "ok" to get him moving. My mare is a 14.1 hand Paint with itty bitty legs. She's slower than a lot of horses and if she's not in shape doesn't care if they go past her or get far ahead. When she's in shape (like this weekend) she does anything and everything she can to stay in the front or right behind the group leader (where she happily shoves them out of the way if she thinks they're taking to long thinking about going past/through something "scary" (with permission of course)).

So just wanted to tell you that there's hope!
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post #7 of 15 Old 06-23-2020, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbar View Post
@ACinATX , I don't take my dressage whip as I hate carrying stuff all the time (and we are riding for 3+ hours). But I do grab branches from trees if I feel I might need them. It doesn't really make any difference to her - she still dawdles. But I suppose when schooling her at home or on shorter rides I could bring my whip and reinforce my leg a bit better.

@waresbear , thanks for the schooling exercise. I will give it a shot and see if it improves her cadence. On trail I did try getting her to trot out when she started to really dawdle, but it's like, she will trot and then when you allow her to walk, it is SO SLOW!! So I keep my leg on her, but then she just trots again. I know she has a faster walk, but getting it out of her is nearly impossible. It is like she has 2 gears - slow as molasses walk, or trot.

And I'll tell ya, it isn't fun doing the constant walk/trot transitions for a 3 hour trail ride. For multiple day rides.
My friend has a retractable crop, it's the coolest thing ever. I couldn't find one with a quick google search but maybe a used tack site may have something? I've also used a crop with a handle and attached it to my saddle when I get tired of holding it.
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post #8 of 15 Old 06-23-2020, 12:50 PM
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I think the exercise is to make a set & forget it type horse in a rail class, once you set the pace, he has to keep it until you change it. I forgot to mention, after you get speed you want, you don't ask again when they slow, you just use the whip. It works perfectly for that, but it does transfer over to the trail for the most part. Otis rarely gets doggy in the show ring, but once in a while he will on the trail. That's when he gets a refresher lesson when we get home.

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post #9 of 15 Old 06-23-2020, 12:56 PM
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I can't really relate to this problem my gelding is a speed demon. Not sure if it would work but worth a try.

Carry a crop when riding so you can reinforce your leg aids. Ask her to speed up with leg no response give her a good whack with crop. When she gets moving the speed you want, praise her a pet on the neck an a good girl. Rinse and repeat.

I wouldn't nag at her but you'll have to be really firm, and make a good impression on her. So really have to whack her good so she knows you mean business. I'd be consistent with this.

My daughter's horse was like your mare,this is what we did with him. He now keeps up. When he tries his pokey fall behind deal. She breaks off a tree branch and he automatically gets going,no whacking required.

Yeah it's annoying I was annoyed with him and I don't ride him. My horse is so fast geared, I was having to stop and wait for them. When they would get out of sight.
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Last edited by rambo99; 06-23-2020 at 01:02 PM.
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post #10 of 15 Old 06-23-2020, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
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@QueenofFrance08 - Thanks for sharing your success getting some impulsion from your horses. My mare is definitely not in the best shape, but she has improved from where she used to be. I guess I was hoping that her ability to step out would also increase with her fitness level, but so far I have seen zero improvement. I am hoping and praying that she will show more forward momentum as she gets fitter though - fingers crossed we have the same outcome you have had. I will also have to look for a crop with a handle. Mine doesn't have one and I HATE carrying stuff all the time. So having the ability to tie it to my saddle would really help.

@rambo99 , it is very frustrating for all parties when there are horses at both ends of the spectrum. This weekend I was riding with a very fit arab and he kept trotting out, then we had horses in the middle, and then me & my lazy horse at the back.

I figure I need to be a bit more aggressive with her...I can't blame her as I have let her get away with it for too long. I am thinking you are right and a couple good smacks to wake her up might do the trick.

Hahaha, @QueenofFrance08 , I haven't even attempted riding this mare solo just yet on trails. I'm sure that will be an entirely different post.
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