Watch: The ultimate guide to paces – canter

Confuse extended walk with a free walk – or maybe you’d like to improve your medium canter? Whatever your aims, dressage rider and trainer Emma Woolley will help unveil your horse’s best paces.


  • Canter is a three-beat gait followed by a moment of suspension when all four feet are off the ground.

  • The canter can either be true – leading with the left leg when on the left rein; or counter – leading with the left leg and staying flexed towards the left leg when cantering to the right.

Working canter is a pace between the collected and medium canter in which your horse, if he’s not yet trained and ready for collected movements, shows himself properly balanced.

Medium canter is a pace between the working and extended canter. It’s a longer version of working canter and covers more ground because your horse’s stride and frame lengthens.

Collected canter is marked by the lightness of the forehand and engagement of the hindquarters. Remaining on the bit, your horse moves forward with his neck raised and arched.

In extended canter, your horse needs to cover as much ground as possible. Maintaining his rhythm, he lengthens his stride to the utmost without losing any of his relaxation and lightness as a result of great impulsion from his hindquarters.

For more advice on paces, see the full article in issue 455.

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Gymnastic horse jumping exercises with Alex Bragg

Top event rider Alex Bragg explains gymnastic jumping exercises that you can do with your horse. 

Exercise 1: 

SET IT UP: In the middle of your school, set up three fences, with 3m in between. The first and last fences are upright, while the middle fence is a cross-pole.

  1. Ride a bouncy canter in an even rhythm around your school. This canter should feel like it has lots of energy without being rushed.
  2. Look ahead towards your jump and turn towards it, making sure you’re as straight as possible.
  3. Keep your body upright and your hands soft, while looking ahead.
  4. Jump the fences, maintaining an upright position with your body and letting your horse come up to you, so that you’re ready for each part of the bounce.
  5. Once complete, canter back to the track and repeat on the other rein. 

Exercise 2:

Part one

  1. On the left rein, establish your bouncy canter and look ahead for the jumps.
  2. Look down the jumps at a line that will take you over all three (Alex says use the wing of your last fence to act as a wing for your middle jump).
  3. Canter straight towards the first fence and jump this – you’ll be slightly off centre to line you up for the second.
  4. Jump the second and third fences with one stride of canter between each.
  5. Ride straight back towards the track. 

Part two

  1. Canter around the outside of your school on the left rein in an even rhythm.
  2. Look ahead for your first jump and turn down the diagonal towards it.
  3. Jump the first and second jump of the exercise on the diagonal.
  4. Canter straight towards the track and change to the right rein.
  5. Repeat on the opposite rein (your third fence will become the first).

 Part three

  1.  Pick up canter on the right rein.
  2. Look ahead for the jumps and ride straight towards the centre of the first jump.
  3. Jump the first and canter three strides towards the third jump.
  4. Once over the third fence, canter straight back towards the track, changing to the left rein.  



Ex-racer tips from Karen Dixon

Olympic eventer and trainer Karen Dixon shares her top tips for training your ex-racers.