Learn the equestrian sport of polo

The Canter


The canter is a 3-beat movement. It is characterized by a moment when all four legs are off the ground called suspension.

The Canter The canter is faster than the trot and slower than the gallop. The canter has a period of suspension after each stride. It starts with the hind leg then leads to the front in a rocking motion.

When you canter, you remain in the saddle. When a horse is at the canter he lifts his hooves in the following sequences based on the lead:

The Left Lead Canter

  1. off (right) hind
  2. near (left) hind and off (right) fore
  3. near (left) fore

The Right Lead Canter

  1. near (left) hind
  2. off (right) hind and near (left) fore
  3. off (right) fore

Sit the Horse

To ask a horse to canter, while at the trot, sit up straight and squeeze gently and give a kick while making a "clicking" noise.

Similar to the walk, a horse will nod its head in the canter. Keep your elbows relaxed, allowing your hands to move forward and back with the movement of its head.

Keep your back supple and rock your hips with the horse's movement. Flex your spine inward, then straighten your spine. Your lower back absorbs the movement of the canter.

Remember, the force of gravity and your sense of balance keep you on a horse.

Correct Lead

The term "lead" is used to tell which fore leg of the horse is farther forward (leading).

  • A horse is on his "left lead" when his near (left) fore leg is leading.
  • A horse is on his "right lead" when his off (right) fore leg is leading.

Cantering on the wrong leg occurs when the horse strikes off incorrectly with the wrong leading leg.

  • If you're cantering to the right, the off (right) fore leg leads. It is the leg that extends the most in front.
  • If you're cantering to the left, the near (left) fore leg leads.