Strange question - do horses need to canter

ShadowHunter

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Afternoon all,
I'm in a situation where I'm lucky enough to have my horses at home and i wouldn't want to change that. However, our hacking is good, straight onto the penine bridleway but theres so little opportunity to have a canter, unless we ride quite far which isn't always possible. The grassy stretches we do have are short and will get muddy/slippy easily in wet winter weather. We don't have an arena and i won't ride her in the fields at home as she gets silly and strong with excitement.
So i was wondering if having active walks and long trots will be enough, we have hills to go up and down too. I aim to be able to canter her on the lunge, ground permitting, and loose school her occasionally. She quite unfit and overweight at the minute due to having a long time off with past owner. Anyone have any other suggestions? thanks.
 

MyBoyChe

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The only time mine canters is when he sees me opening up a bit more of his field, then he cant move quick enough :) I dont canter out on hacks because Im scared of rabbit holes which pop up all over the place on our regular routes. I dont school because I hate it, and so does he! I suppose if you need to achieve a certain level of fitness, then yes, they would need to do some canter work, but for pleasure, I think you need to treat safety as more of a priority than a good old blast!
 

shadeofshyness

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My lazy Welsh would definitely argue that cantering is a cruel and unnecessary activity inflicted on him in the school.

We have nowhere to canter on hacks unless we go for hours and hours, which pleases him greatly.
 

Barnacle

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I really don't see why they should HAVE to canter :p That's like asking whether a person HAS to go for a regular sprint... I'm sure most of us don't think so!

As long as you are doing as much as you'd like and the horse has turnout time to canter if she so wishes, I don't see any problem with only walk/trot on hacks.

Saying that, if you can imagine ever being in a situation where the horse decides to canter (e.g. a bad spook) or if you might get on another horse, it's worth keeping your own skill up to it... In your position, personally, I'd try to learn how to deal with the field excitement and go for a ride in there from time to time. Also if you ever want to sell the horse, the buyer may want to try her out and will want to canter... In which case having neglected her canter work (and speed control) in the fields would be a bad idea.

So no, horse doesn't need to canter... But maybe you do?
 

rowan666

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they dont need to canter but if yours is anything like my lot they certainly enjoy having a good stretch, ours are constantly charging round the field trashing the ground but the oldest we have there at the mo is 7 so they are still babies, my old fella (out on loan) is a lazy ex riding school cob so pretty much refuses to canter well move in general unless its dinner time or a jump is infront of him lol
 

DD

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they need to have a big enough paddock to allow them to canter if they want to. But they dont need to canter when being ridden.
 

BSL

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mine canters off in the morning when turned out. And cheeky chappy that he is, would try to break into canter when out on hack, as easier than the working trot I'm asking for over the fields:)
 

Goldenstar

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Cantering develops the horses abdominal muscles much better than walking and trotting .
Horse need good abdominals in order to develop good back and top line muscle .
So in schooling and development terms they need to canter .
But could a hack who was out and and about going up and down hills be healthy and happy yes of course it could.
 

poiuytrewq

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I never cantered my older horse in his last home in winter as there just wasn't anywhere suitable.
He did lack a nice figure because of it! But was perfectly happy
 

ShadowHunter

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I feel a little less mean now. I do need to canter more on her as I'm still not used to her incredibly bouncy movement. She's still quite young at 7 and is often up for a good blast around. I try to let her have a stretch when we can but sometimes its not possible. She has got a big enough field to have a galavant around if she really wanted. We're just happy hackers at the moment so being in top physical condition for competing isn't a worry for us.
 

Dry Rot

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Following instinctive behaviour is usually pleasurable and I am sure a fit and healthy horse will enjoy a good canter. Athletes can become addicted to exercise. A Roman Catholic friend of mine declared that he enjoyed going to the loo so much, he really felt he should confess it!:)

But I doubt whether following instinctive behaviour is always neccessary. It is not neccessary to enjoy life. Lots don't and manage well enough being miserable.
 

Gazen

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My horse loves cantering. She has a stunning canter, by far her best gait. She is also a bit of a torment in the field when she wants to play, she will canter around the other horses putting in a few bucks to get them to come and have a run with her. It is lovely to watch when the 4 of them canter around the field just generally having a fine time.
 

catroo

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As previously said, I think being able to canter sensibly under saddle is beneficial for both of you but not essential. As long as she has equine company and a decent sized field I'm sure she'll do all the cantering she wants to
 
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