Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: ~*~ NEBRASKA ~*~
I've never given any thought to cantering on trails, western or english, I've just always done it. I'd say just relax and move with the horse, never against it just as you do in an arena. This is supposed to be relaxed fun. Also, you should already be profecient in your riding, and able to stay balanced at the canter in the arena as well as in good control of your horse.
As for SHOULD you canter on trail.... well you will get a lot of mixed responses but here is mine.
First and foremost is SAFETY, not just to you but other trail users. If it is an open space where you can see CLEARLY all around, such as a meadow and you know nobody else is there, and you are in complete control of your horse, I'd say it's fine. I have friends that gallop full out in such places. If it's more of a "blind" trail meaning there are trees, etc that obstruct your view of what is ahead, I'd say no if it's a multi use trail where there could be people, pets etc ahead. If it's horse only and you have a very nice slow and controlled canter, then do so but with caution. Remember anything can suddenly POP out at you at any time and spook your horse so if you have an especially nervous steed... don't canter here.
ALWAYS know the area you are riding in. Are there holes or other obstacles? If you don't know, tread with care. When I was 17 I had what could have been a disastrous accident on my horse because I cantered up an unknown hill....and it had gopher holes. My horse went down hard and rolled with me still on her. How we both got out of that unscathed is only my guardian angel's knowledge. I only got the wind knocked out of me and my horse was fine though I gave her a week off just to be sure. I've only cantered in very well known, safe areas ever since.