How to Ride a Horse at Walk, Trot, and Canter

Riding a horse is the best experience you can ever have - it's wonderful to feel the wind in your hair, and get the adrenaline rush! If you're a beginner rider wondering how to get started or nervous about your first lesson, this article will give you a short overview of riding the three gaits.


  1. Image titled Ride a Horse at Walk, Trot, and Canter Step 1
    Start by learning how to walk. The walk is a slow gait with a gentle rocking motion. In the walk, the horse steps with his left hind leg, left front leg, right hind leg, and then right front leg. This makes the walk a four-beat gait - you can count 1-2-3-4 as you walk. At the walk, you must keep the muscles in your upper body supple and relaxed, so that they absorb the horse's motion. Don't let your seat or lower leg slip! Because the horse swings his head at the walk, allow your hands to gently move back and forth with the movement.
    • The walk has the least natural impulsion (energy) of all three gaits. You must be careful to keep your horse moving forward in a lively, energetic attitude. To keep your horse going forward, give him short, brisk squeezes with your legs. If he's being particularly lazy, you can give him a quick, purposeful kick.
  2. Image titled Ride a Horse at Walk, Trot, and Canter Step 2
    Start trotting! In the trot, the horse steps with diagonal pairs of legs - for example, the left hind leg and right foreleg move together. The trot is a two-beat gait. You should begin by just trotting five steps. Keep your hips, knees, and ankles supple and springy, and again absorb the movement through your seat. Imagine that you are melting down into the saddle, so that your seat becomes deep and heavy. When you can sit the trot comfortably, you can begin posting. To post, you rise up with one beat of the trot, and sit down the next. Keep an even pressure on your stirrups, and allow the horse to move you.
    • To post the trot correctly, you must rise up as the horse's outside leg (the leg closest to the arena fence) moves forward. If you "rise and fall with the leg on the wall," you are on the correct diagonal.
  3. Image titled Ride a Horse at Walk, Trot, and Canter Step 3
    Learn how to canter. The canter is three-beat gait with a rocking motion. The horse moves his right rear leg, then his left rear and right front legs (the right rear leg will move again a moment later), and then the left front leg. To transition from trot to canter, sit down, breathe and deepen your seat, and then move your outside leg back and squeeze. You should also bend your horse a little with your inside rein. It is important that your horse is moving with impulsion before you ask for the canter! Once you've begun cantering, allow your seat to deepen and follow the horse. Imagine that you are cleaning the saddle with your seat - allow it to move in slow, steady circles.
    • Once you are proficient at the canter, you will have to learn about leads. See this article for more information.


  • Horses are unpredictable creatures so always wear correctly fitted hats and body protectors

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Categories: Horses