The Journey for the Quality Canter

Let’s talk about that canter. Now don’t get excited, I’m not about to expel some super deep, super impressive wisdom when it comes to achieving the perfect quality canter. I’m just here to commiserate.

quality canter

It seems like quality canter is the one phrase I hear over and over when I hear riders of almost every discipline discussing one of their goals. Everyone is seeking that perfect canter. What exactly do we mean when we say “quality canter”?

quality canter

For me, the quality canter might as well be an elusive mystical beast. The second I feel like I have hold of it, it flutters away and leaves me wondering if I ever had it at all. Was it even real?

quality canter

I get into the show and think, “MUST get quality canter. WE GOT THIS.”

quality canter

And then I get going and think, “Is this it? Too fast? Too slow?” Shit let’s hope this is it! First jump is coming up!”

And then, if it feels right, I know that I have found that elusive quality canter. And if I don’t see the distance and can’t easily adjust (not enough impulsion to ask for the gappy distance, too quick/against my hand to ask for the nice add)  then I know I don’t have it and I was fooled again.

quality canter

In some lessons we realllllly have it. Distances come easily, adjustments flow seamlessly, and everything feels easy. Other days I wonder where it went and why I can’t seem to find it no matter what I do.

quality canter
So thankful to this hunk who doesn’t mind the journey!


I have decided that the pursuit of the quality canter is essentially a never ending journey. You can chase it your whole life, and still never get a firm grasp on it!

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  1. I very much feel this. My horse’s canter is by far his weakest gait. This is not helped by the fact that I own the laziest thoroughbred on the planet.

  2. Frankie’s canter has always been his most balanced, nicest gait. However, I am a monkey and have been working for 3 years now on figuring out how to properly rate and power it up. He’s pretty sure he has the quality canter, I just have to figure out how to actually ride it haha.

  3. I think a quality canter is one of those things that differentiates a pro from an amateur. The sheer VOLUME of time that pros get to spend CANTERING horses makes it so much easier for them to solidify that “this” is a quality canter… while us amateurs are like “Do I kick or pull?” >.<

    Maybe one day I'll figure it out.

  4. There’s so much that goes into getting the “perfect canter” — correct impulsion, on the bit, medium pace, etc. that makes it SO hard to not only find, but maintain. Honestly, I think that’s one of the biggest challenges of the hunter ring because once you HAVE that canter, the distances and striding just shows up.

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