Too Much Trotting
Is it possible for a horse to do so much walking and trotting that it affects how they canter?
Definitely, if walking and trotting so much means you're cantering them less.
Not cantering enough effects their canter. ;)
Cantering is its own business, unrelated to trotting. Trotting won't make it better or worse (well... Unless we're going to get all politically correct.) You must canter in order to canter well.
I see what you mean. I can see that trotting certainly helps and sets you up for success, but it can't make a canter. After trotting perfectly for a while, that doesn't mean your canter will be great.
So... I guess it's actually a bit of both. Trotting helps.
I was asking because one of the many horses I've ridden was a really strange canter. Her trot and walk are fine, but when she canters it's almost like she cross cantering in her hind legs, but in truth she isn't. She's had her back and hindquarters adjusted multiple times over the years and the vet's looked at her but she still does it. She's not in pain either. Her gallop is fine too. I talked to my RI about it and she said that she thinks that she may have had a hip injury when she was a foal that affected her. But then my friend said that she had been used as a walk/trot only horse for years, with very little, if any, cantering. Which brought me to the question I asked in my first post.
Cantering puts unique stresses on the horse because for two beats of the four (including the one beat with is suspension) the horse bears all the weight on ONE leg. AND the canter is actually a lateral movement; when the horse puts the two legs (rear left and front right, for example) on the ground, it makes a kind of "line" over which it moves slightly sideways onto the leading leg. Hard to explain, but it uses the spine quite differnently , too.
If the horse has never been (or very rarely been) cantered, then it's no wonder the canter feels wonky. They'll be unbalanced and uncoordinated simply due to lack of experience. A good trot will help to establish the start of a good canter, but like others said, the only way to get a good canter is to do a lot of it. Also, I have never heard of too much trotting being a bad thing unless you're doing it wrong :wink:.
Establishing a balanced, rhythmical walk and trot is essential for the development of a good quality canter. If you do not have a good connection established in walk and trot, you will struggle with it in canter unless the horse has a naturally very good quality canter and not so good walk/trot.
Have a think about it. If you go into canter from a hollow, strung out trot, the transition will be hollow and strung out, and the canter will be hollow and strung out.
If you enter the canter from a well balanced, soft and engaged trot, the transition will be uphill, light and balanced, and the canter will also be uphill, light and balanced.
Developing a good quality trot is so important for a good quality canter! So no, I don't think you can ever do too much trot work. Walk yes, you can destroy a walk doing too much, but not trot.
Of course, as someone said above, if you are just trotting around, not changing or improving anything about the horse's way of going, allowing it to work strung out, stiff and on the forehand, you're not doing anyone any favours and of course the canter will be of bad quality.
Let me rephrase my question, maybe this will help clarify what I'm trying to ask because there seems to be some confusion.
Is it possible for a horse to trot so much that it can negatively affect how the horse itself canters even with a balanced canter?
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