Missouri 4 year old Racking Horse ridden in English bridle & snaffle and all purpose English saddle in Round pen & pasture by Advanced beginner

Question: What am I doing wrong when I cue my horse to canter and she has trouble picking it up? If I'm in the pasture working at a running walk along the fence-line and then sit up tall, pick up on the reins and cue her with my legs and voice to canter, she will get really strung-out at the running walk and can't canter. Or she will seem to be "trotting" and cantering but alternating with her front and back legs. I don't know if that makes sense or
not but that is what it feels like! The strange thing is, she used to pick up a canter really well, and now she "can't". Like she used to pick up a canter from a walk and give me a super smooth "rocking-chair" canter. I'm plan to go to an upcoming show with her and may need to canter and I want to work this out so we can do our best! Thank you for your advice!! ~Hannah~

From Panelist Liz

Hi Hanna,

Since she was able to pick it up well in the past and do it correct, I would have this horse checked for a pain issue somewhere. She could also be out of alignment in the back as well as many other areas. I might also check your saddle she may have a different shape over time and it is not fitting. It could be pinching somewhere. Also check her teeth do they need a float.


From Panelist Bob

You answered this question yourself. <g> You ask for the canter from the walk, not the RW. The RW is a lateral gait and it is hard (impossible for some!) for a horse to go from a lateral gait to a canter. I announce at a lot of all breed horse shows and the order of gaits is; walk/flat walk, trot/foxtrot/RW, walk/flat walk, canter, walk/flat walk. This is the standard order for gaited shows as well as stock horse shows.

Bob Blackwell

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