What’s The Difference? Trot, Canter, Gallop…

Because the guests at the Rancho come from all over the world and practice different riding styles, there is sometimes confusion as to what is expected when the wranglers decide to change the pace of a ride.  Everyone seems to agree on walk but after that, disagreement abounds!  So here is our handy-dandy guide to explain how we do things at the Rancho:

Trot: The most important thing to know about a trot is that WE DO NOT TROT at the Rancho!  We believe it is harder on our horses and our guests. So if you feel your horse settle into a bumpy, two-beat gait (where the diagonal pairs of legs move forward at the same time), give your horse a solid kick with both heels and tell him to get moving!

Canter: When our wranglers turn their heads and say, “Canter?”, be prepared to moooove before you reply “Yes!”  What’s important to remember is that the word canter doesn’t necessarily refer to speed.  Canter simply means the horse takes on a controlled, three-beat movement. For example, when a horse leads with his right leg he will start the canter with his left hind leg (first beat), then his right hind and left fore will move on the second beat in a rocking motion; his right foreleg will then follow on beat three. Our wranglers will always start with slow canters and increase the speed if a group is riding well.  Canters can be as fast as 20 miles an hour.

Gallop: Generally speaking, the gallop is much faster than a canter but each horse is different and will fall into this gait when he is comfortable. When galloping, you will be able to clearly hear four distinct beats. Like a canter, the horse will strike off with its non-leading hind foot; but in the second and third stages of a gallop, the inside hind foot hits the ground a split second before the outside front foot. The gallop ends with the striking off of the leading leg, followed by a moment of suspension when all four feet are off the ground in a bent position. Our wranglers will gallop on occasion with excellent riders, but generally speaking, most never exceed a fast canter.

Join us at the Rancho and experience the differences for yourself.    We’re waiting!

2017-08-25T11:45:17+00:00 January 10th, 2017|


  1. Claes Grimslätt March 6, 2017 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    I agree! Thats why I love the ranch. I can hear the wrangler ask us…. “today we make two groups…one fast and one very fast”which of them do you like to join?

    But its funny to hear the riders who is standing up in the stirrups when they are cantering and ask me…..why the horse dont stop when they want him to do.

    I am thinking on you!

    • ursula March 8, 2017 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      Ha ha! We’re glad to hear you are thinking of us. We’d love to have you back for a very fast ride! But let’s not scare off our beginners. We’ve got plenty of rides just for them, too! Hasta la proxima!

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