Often in our quest to develop the gaits, we add impulsion to the working trot and canter. This is a great goal, but with some horses, adding impulsion creates tension.
You do want to add more impulsion to the gaits, but you need to do it gradually so you don’t lose relaxation, suppleness and connection.
Think of the training scale. Use that as your guide as to how much power you can add. Rhythm is first. Suppleness is second. Connection is third. Impulsion is fourth.
So if you’ve lost relaxation, first go back to the energy level you had when your horse was relaxed, supple and connected. Stay there for a few days or however long it takes for you to reestablish suppleness and connection.
Then add a TINY bit more impulsion. Check that you still have suppleness and connection. Stay at this degree of impulsion until this amount of power becomes your horse’s new normal.
Then in a few days add a tiny bit more impulsion. Once again, check suppleness and connection. Stay at this new degree of impulsion until this amount of power becomes the new normal.
Continue to add impulsion very gradually until your horse tracks up with energy in trot and brings the inside hind leg more underneath the body in a bounding canter.
If you’ve added more impulsion than your horse can tolerate emotionally, drain some of the power away until you can reestablish suppleness and connection.