The Canter of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse

The canter is a broken three-beat gait, and should be preformed in a collected manner. There are several things that should be considered when judging the canter. The horse should be relaxed and under control, should not crossfire, and should be in the correct lead. The two most common mutations of the canter are a lope and a gaity four-beat canter. In the lope a horse moves with a low flat motion and has little rocking motion. The lope is a faster gait than the canter. The lope is like a slow gallop. In the canter the outside rear foot hits the ground first, the inside rear and the outside front feet hit the ground simultaneously, and the inside front foot hits last. This produces the broken three-beat cadence. Because of the rocking motion of the canter, the saddle should move smoothly without surging or bouncing. This rocking chair canter allows the horse to have a showy head movement as the head is used as a counter balance to the broken gait. The head will reach its highest point when the outside rear foot hits the ground, and its lowest point when the inside front foot hits the ground. The horse gathers itself of the off beat and takes another step. The speed of the canter should be near that of the flat foot walk. The gaity four-beat canter is slower and the feet hit one at a time.



copyright © 1996 Rick Watson, Watson Stables