Guest Blog # 118: Why Counter Canter? by Bill Woods

An old friend of mine, Colonel Aage Sommer (DEN) used to say “One counter canter is worth ten true canters.”


It was implied, but allow me to state it outright: one good counter canter!


The benefit of counter canter is not that you can manage to canter around on the “wrong” lead. It’s that to make a decent one, you must be able to create and sustain enough balance and self carriage that your horse can perform it comfortably and correctly.


When a horse has a good true canter, once you’re in it, it tends to take care of itself. In similar fashion if you begin a shoulder-in on the long side of the arena, once positioned you usually don’t have to do very much. Put that shoulder-in on a 20 meter circle, however, and your interaction with your horse becomes busier and more complicated.


In like fashion working in the counter canter provides a venue in which you must develop a more intimate, meaningful relationship with your horse to help him stay balanced and relaxed. He has to be real to do it right. He can’t just “mail it in.”

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