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Canter before Trot?

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  • Canter before Trot?

    Does anyone start with canter work before trot work after their horse is warmed up at the walk?

    What are your reasons?

  • #2
    I rode a gelding that we warmed up this way. He had some stifle issues that made him stiff but he was not in pain. The vet suggested canter work first, as it helped to loosen his stifles and make the trot easier. If we trotted first he would be uneven behind for the first few minutes and every so often one stifle would "lock up" but he would work out of it. If we cantered first, then trotted the trot would be much more even. It worked very well for this particular horse and seemed to help him be more comfortable when he worked.
    It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.


    • #3
      I'll do this with my gelding if he's having a lazy day. It's just too much work getting him to trot.

      I also warm up at the canter for the hack. Doing this makes his trot much more forward when I enter the ring.


      • #4
        I will ocassionaly warm up with canter before trot if one of my horses is being a bit hot that day. Not a naughty hot, but just seem to have more 'go'....gets it out of their system. I also don't just canter off...they do transitions in and out of canter to get their head back in the game, but also blow off some steam.

        With some its better to just let it happen (if its not an every ride thing) rather than fight with them and ruin the whole ride.
        Horse Drawings!


        • #5
          Originally posted by Go Fish View Post
          I'll do this with my gelding if he's having a lazy day. It's just too much work getting him to trot.

          I also warm up at the canter for the hack. Doing this makes his trot much more forward when I enter the ring.
          Same here.


          • #6
            Yup. I had an older horse that was a star in terms of teaching riders the ropes in the jumper ring but he was a little stiff, especially the second or third week of a show. He needed to be allowed to canter a lap or two on the buckle before trotting to stretch and work all the kinks out, then he was perfect.


            • #7
              Sure, and for the same horse-centric reasons others have described.

              The hot one gets a psychologically "cool" and relaxing experience because no one is asking him to change his ways right out of the box.

              The lazy slug is tricked into not being so hard to move. Even if the canter is puking bad, this forward warm-up will produce a little more adrenaline and looseness in him than would the kind of driving trot you'd need to get the same job done. The truly lazy beast can benefit psychologically from a warmup at the canter and even a little hand gallop at the two point if you do it consistently. He learns to expect "forward" right from the beginning of the ride, and may come to offer it.

              I like to appreciate the horse's problem-- he must manage his mind, his body and the task of meeting his rider's demands. The warm up should be crafted so that we make it physically easy for him to do what we want. That, in turn, makes his mind more pliable.

              So give the horse what he wants in the beginning of a ride.
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat


              • #8
                One of my best jumpers was the ultimate show ring ride. Training at home, he would anticipate what was coming next. He knew that when flatting, canter work followed trot work, so I always constantly varying what gait I asked for and when I asked for it.
                Alison/Mikali Farms


                • #9
                  Yup... He had a hip injury right after I bought him and he just seems to do better at the trot if I canter him first. I usually only do a lap or 2 and then come back down to the trot for another lap or 2. Then I switch directions and rinse/repeat. All of this is on the buckle and I encourage him to go long and low. And then we can move on to our "real work" and I pick up the reins. If I don't do this, he sucks back and is "hitchy" at the trot. I think it helps loosen him up and stretch things out.

                  When he was really fit and muscled up last year... I could trot first alot of the time. But if he's had ANY time off, we have to canter first.

                  I'm currently bringing him back from colic surgery and just got cleared to start trotting/cantering. I asked my Vet if it would be okay to canter first just a lap before trotting as I know if I ask him to trot first, it's going to be ugly. He said that was fine.


                  • #10
                    Yes. My boy is an old man and often comes out stiff at the trot, so we'll canter a lap or two to loosen up things and then go back to trot work. If I do trot work first, he'll be stiff behind for much longer before he loosens up and feels good. It seems to work better to do a little canter first instead.

                    I also used to warm my large pony up this way in the winter, not because of stiffness but because he was a loon. Trotting first would just be a big fight to keep him slow and to prevent him from randomly leaping into the air. If he was allowed to get some steam out and canter a bit in the beginning, we then could go on and work like a civilized pony.


                    • #11
                      I vary it up for one of my mares. I've found that if she's not moving well at the trot, cantering first helps loosen her up over her back and gives me a much better trot after the fact.
                      "I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance, none of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this but cool."


                      • #12
                        I've had a few, and one currently with different reasoning that any of the above: he's a mild headshaker, and the headshaking is at its worst the first trot. If he canters first, it's much milder.

                        Others in my barn have had this routine for the same reasons as above posters.
                        Last edited by Vandy; Oct. 22, 2009, 12:04 PM.
                        Ristra Ranch Equestrian Jewelry


                        • #13
                          I usually will walk, trot a figure 8 to check for soundness (make sure he hasn't done anything silly to hurt himself overnight), then canter. Jet is normally hot/full of himself, and cantering gets some of the energy out so he settles more quickly. If I trot first, he is wired, and not paying attention. Frequent transitions make him more wired. Cantering is easy and relaxing to him.

                          Arthritic horses often warm up more easily by cantering first.


                          • #14
                            If you read my dilemma with carrying a crop, you would know my horse is really lazy. I actually just starting cantering and then trotting not that long ago and its made all the difference. We get a motivated walk for a couple laps then pick up the canter and then trot. He is so much easier that way. He loosens up and softens up. He gets over his work ethic issues right away and is so much more pleasant, its alot better than constantly nagging him about trotting forward.
                            Dear life, please send grapes. Sincerely, I prefer wine over lemonade.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by kellidahorsegirl View Post
                              I will ocassionaly warm up with canter before trot if one of my horses is being a bit hot that day. Not a naughty hot, but just seem to have more 'go'....gets it out of their system. I also don't just canter off...they do transitions in and out of canter to get their head back in the game, but also blow off some steam.

                              With some its better to just let it happen (if its not an every ride thing) rather than fight with them and ruin the whole ride.
                              Ditto. I usually warm up at the trot, but there are days when my horse is so obsessed with wanting to GO that it's better to get that out of the way. Like you, I don't just let her yee haw out running (that would be suicidal). She has to listen and I give her things to think about. On those days, cantering first makes for a much more enjoyable ride for both of us.


                              • #16
                                This is a great topic!
                                I never would have thought to canter before trotting. i have a lazy mare, that occasionally gets hot (shes off the track) AND she is a little bit stiff behind sometimes. I'm totally trying this with her today.


                                • #17
                                  There is not just "ONE" way to warm up.

                                  Sometimes it's best to do it slowly. Most appreciate walking first.

                                  Others need do do "laps" at a canter to release their tension.

                                  Many are somewhere between. Bottom line is to know your horse, or do your best to get a good read on one you don't know, and proceed accordingly.
                                  Inner Bay Equestrian


                                  • #18
                                    I leased a mare about a year ago that I would usually canter a bit before trot. She could sometimes started out very stiff and it definitely helped loosen her up. We'd canter on a loose rein around the ring a few times, then go down to the trot, and then canter some more.

                                    If my horse is being super lazy I have cantered him before trotting just to get him in a more forward thought process. It also throws him off because he knows the routine goes walk, trot, canter usually. Asking him to canter right away is a good way to work on our transitions, which sometimes can be shakey.
                                    Owned by an Oldenburg


                                    • #19
                                      Yup! I have done this for years. Especially for the older horses. It seems that the canter is a smoother/more comfortable gate than the trot for those that need a little warm up to alleviate the creakies.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Great replys!

                                        I canter my horse sometimes before I trot either because a) she's really fresh and needs to move, or b) I want to work on a quiet trot after the canter.

                                        Some people think I am weird for doing this.