The order in which the feet come to the ground, supposing the right hind is supporting the animal alone, will be as follows: - 1, right hind; 2, right fore and left hind; 3, left fore, with or without a brief period of suspension before the right hind is brought down.
Photographs of heavy horses (80th of a second exposure) leave us under the impression that there is no period of suspension whatever; but a well-bred lady's hack, schooled to the pace, proves that there is such a period in the more elastic members of the equine family.
The canter is an easy pace to the rider, but, save as a relief to some other, cannot be recommended for the horse. He seeks to relieve the fatigued muscles by changing sides, and is usually trained to do this by a light stroke down the shoulder with the whip.
The fore-leg which is not acting as a diagonal support is called the leading leg, and a horse is said to be cantering to the left or right according to which leg is leading.
As a straightforward pace, cantering is perhaps the safest of all, but while cantering a horse should not be asked to turn, except towards the side of the leading leg; neglect of this precaution renders him liable to cross his legs and come down.
Fig. 531. - The Canter.
Copyright, 1887, by Eadweard Muybridge. From Animate in Motion, published by Chapman & Hall.
The hind-leg upon which the whole of the animal's weight is momentarily imposed, is on the opposite side of the leading fore-leg.
There is a fast canter, more frequently called a "hand-gallop", in which the diagonal support does not act unaided. The period of suspension in the canter is obtained in the same way as in the gallop, the straightening of the leading fore-leg raising the forehand.
Listening to the uninterrupted sound of a horse cantering to the left, it will be noted that the interval of suspension between the coming down of the left fore and right hind feet is of greater duration than either of the other intervals. The weight in the hand-gallop being more equally distributed than in the common canter, it is distinctly less fatiguing to the horse.
PLATE LVIII. THE TROT.
[From Animals in Motion, published by Chapman & Hall. Copyright 1887 by EadweardMuybridge.].
print of fore-foot.
print of hind foot.
print of fore and hind feet superposed.
Fig. 532. - Trails (Footprints) of the Various Paces.