What To Think About On A Cantering Horse – Why Canter Is Important For Horse Riders

Many beginner horse riders think that cantering is simply trotting at a faster speed, however cantering is technically galloping. It is a specific gait (or pace) that is performed by the horse. There are three main gaits that horses perform – walk, trot, and canter. In this post, we will be discussing why cantering is important for horse riders to learn.

The Canter Gait

Cantering is when a horse gallops with one foot always leading. For example, if the right front leg leads, then the left hind leg and left front leg will follow; then the right hind leg will strike the ground. The following legs will cross each other as they reach out to strike the ground. This sequence of beats repeats itself and gives cantering its distinctive rhythm.

How to Canter

Cantering is usually initiated by a slight increase in pressure from the rider’s legs so that the horse understands that you want it to start cantering from a trot. You can also use your voice to cue the horse – saying “canter” or “come on girl” usually does the trick. As the horse starts to canter, sit deep in your saddle and keep your heels down and weight balanced over your feet in the stirrups. Remember to keep your arms and hands quiet and resist the urge to grab onto the horse’s mane!


Once you are cantering, you will want to maintain a light contact with the reins while using your aids sparingly. You also want to make sure that you are sitting up straight and not leaning too far forward or back in the saddle. If you find yourself getting off balance, you can always slow down by transition back into a trot or by using your reins to slow down and stop.

How do I improve my canter

Once you are able to canter, practice changing directions. This will help your horse learn to respond to your leg and rein cues. To change directions, simply use your legs and reins to ask your horse to turn in the direction you want to go. For example, if you want to turn left, apply pressure with your right leg while simultaneously turning your left hand toward the horse’s left shoulder.

Why Canter is Important for Horse Riders

Cantering may seem like a simple gait, but it’s very important for horse riders to learn. Canter helps rider’s develop balance and control, as well as improving their overall riding skills.  it can be more challenging than riding at a trot or walk. With practice, though, you’ll be cantering around like a pro in no time!

Cantering on a cob indoors at Strathorn

Cantering for the First Time – My Experience

One of our riders wrote this after her first canter and was kind enough to let us share it with you

I’ve been riding horses for a little over six months now, and up until recently, I had only ever trotted. When my instructor first asked me to canter, I have to admit, I was a little intimidated. But I trust her and Regean (the horse) so we went for it!

The First Time Trying to Canter

When my instructor said it was time to canter, she had me start off walking. Once I felt comfortable, I moved to rising trot and after a few times around the arena, she asked if I was ready to try cantering.

I have to say, when my horse first went into a canter, it was a quite an experience. He went from a smooth trot to a faster gait almost instantaneously, and it took me a minute to adjust. But once I did, it was an incredible feeling. The smooth but fast feeling as we cantered around the arena is something I’ll never forget.

After a few laps at the canter, my instructor had me slow things down and transition back into a trot. And just like that, my first lesson Cantering was over. Overall, it was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to do it again!

Cantering for the first time can be daunting, but if you trust your horse and follow your instructor’s directions, you’ll be fine! It’s an incredibly exhilarating experience that all horse riders should be aiming for.

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