Your Horses Canter

The working canter is the canter used from the beginning of a horses training, this has 3 beats and is classed as ‘three time’. The sequence of horse’s foot falls is as follows;
Outside hind leg
Inside hind and outside fore at the same time
Inside fore leg
This is then followed by a moment where all horse’s feet are off the ground at the same time momentarily. This is called the moment of suspension.

The horse can canter with a left or right foreleg lead. The lead is determined by whichever foreleg reaches the farthest forward on landing. This three time movement causes a rocking motion when ridden.

A disunited canter is a very common fault when cantering. A united canter should always be worked towards and this is classed as such when the horses leading foreleg and leading hindleg appear to be on the same side. When cantering ‘disunited’ the leading hindleg appears to be on the opposite side to the leading foreleg.

Common reasons for a disunited canter are often attributed to lack of strength, fitness, tension or a physical problem. It is vital that any sudden appearance of a ‘disunited’ canter be addressed. This could be symbolic of a physical reason why the horse cannot engage. Firstly ask yourself whether you have upped the level of training given to your horse, are you asking too much? Should his fitness be improved a little slower in order for him to be able to work up to this new level of training you are asking from him? Are the exercises you are asking too advanced? Are the circles too small or turns too sharp? If your horse becomes disunited, gently bring him back to a trot, rebalance him and start again.

The four time ‘disunited’ canter will feel uncomfortable to site to and can often be a result of the working canter being shortened by the reins alone. The result is a shuffling or incorrect canter gait. The diagonally opposite legs that are supposed to land at the same time, land individually. The three time beat of the working canter should always be maintained. If lost the three time canter can be re-established by riding actively forward. Often adopting a forward jumping seat can help the horse establish a forward going canter again which once established you can slowly sit up again and maintain the energy and impulsion.

Straightness in the canter is essential. This will ensure the horse’s weight is distributed evenly on both sides. If this is not the case uneven wear and stresses can be placed on continuously over used limbs. Straightness will enable the horse to push equally and effectively with their hind legs; these being the driving source of this gait. With a straight canter the rider will be able to keep the horse accurate on their aids and will be able to maintain a level and even contact on sides, assisting and enabling correct collection throughout the gait.

Correcting a crooked canter:
Ride the horse in a shoulder in position. By bringing the horses shoulders in off the track fractionally you are teaching the horse to become even more responsive and to move away from your leg. This will allow you to correct the horse more effectively if he moves away from the straight working line.
Work generally on suppling exercises for your horse; work on circles, turns and other lateral exercises enabling your horse to be more laterally supple. This will decrease his favouritism for one size.

Tammy is a avid horse rider who trys to advertise the correct ways to be treating horses. Tammy works part time for a company who specialise in lazy jacks sweatshirts as well as equine tack & champion body protectors in the UK. For more info, please visit the site for a range of horse blankets including turnout rugs

The Large Plush Horse and Training Horses with Sweets

You would be hard pressed to find a child that has not asked to have a horse or pony as a pet. With the enormous costs associated with keeping a horse, however, the reality is, the child will likely have to settle for a large plush horse instead. As far as toys go, a child could do much worse than having a large plush horse – some of them are so lifelike in fact, they won’t ever feel like they have missed out on having the real thing.

In 2008, a study was conducted on twelve, two year old quarter horses, to determine whether or not training them when they were fed sweet food, made any difference in the animal. The horses wore pedometers, wristwatch-heart monitors hanging from their saddles, and Ace bandages attached to their left front leg above the knee so as to measure heart rate and the number of steps the horses took while being trained.

The study, conducted by Montana State University, found that horses fed a mix of corn, oats, barley, and molasses (called “sweet grain” or “sweet feed”) disobeyed more and were more fearful as compared to horses fed only hay. Horses that ate the grain mixed food, resisted the saddle more, startled easier, and bucked and ran more while in training. While early training of horses usually lasts just 30 days, trainers are under time constraints to give young horses the foundation they need to go on to more advanced training. As is the case, so as to maximize the time spent training, the study suggests that trainers may want to refrain from feeding horses a diet that will increase their energy.

For the study, horse trainer Wade Black, trained the animals five days a week for a period of three weeks. Half the horses being trained were only given hay to eat which was a mixture of alfalfa and grass. The other horses, were not only given hay daily, but also five pounds of sweet grain. Both groups of horses ate as much hay and drank as much water as they wanted. During the 30 to 40 minute a day training sessions, Black had no idea which horse had eaten grain and which had only eaten hay. Along with the recording of heart rate and the number of steps the horses took, the study also measured get-up-and-go, obedience, and separation anxiety. According to animal nutritionist Jan Bowman, when separated from the herd, the horses that had been eating both grain and hay were more upset than the horses that had been eating only hay. They were also more lively, whinnied more and were less submissive.

As Bowman pointed out “we don’t want to give the impression that you should starve the horses in order to enhance their good behavior – that’s not the point of it. But, you might want to consider withholding [grain] it during the early weeks of training.”

Amongst other things, a large plush horse won’t require training of any kind, nor will there be a ‘worry’ about what kind of food it should or shouldn’t eat. A large plush horse, will however, require as much love and attention you can possibly shower on it for as long as you own it.

large plush horse

large plush horse

Copyright Shelley Vassall, 2010. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.


Shelley Vassall is a writer an collector of the large plush horse

large plush horse