Definition of canter in English:



  • 1[in singular] A pace of a horse or other quadruped between a trot and a gallop, with not less than one foot on the ground at any time.

    ‘I rode away at a canter’
    • ‘Having a horse coming at them, especially at the canter, can be extremely disconcerting to the ex-racer.’
    • ‘I untied Ladybird and mounted, I guided her across the stream and down the hill until we came to the bottom then we broke into a canter and galloped all the way home.’
    • ‘But the horse broke into a canter and despite Rachel's attempts to cling on, she slid off, fracturing her skull.’
    • ‘We landed softly on the other side, continuing a smooth gallop, until I checked him back to a canter, trot and then walk.’
    • ‘The pace quickened to a canter as the trail began to open and they rode into a valley.’
    • ‘We want to hear and feel four even, steady beats at the walk, two at the trot or jog, and three at the canter or lope.’
    • ‘They walked their horses out of the barn, and then began trotting to the main road where they urged their horses into a canter.’
    • ‘He wasn't supposed to ride her in a trot, canter or gallop.’
    • ‘Should this leading leg be the right front leg, it would be called a right-hand canter and a left-hand canter would be led by the left leg.’
    • ‘As you evaluate your own progress, however, you may find that you can be relaxed at the walk on any horse but you cannot yet be relaxed at the trot on some horses or at the canter on others.’
    • ‘His canter turned into a gallop as he sped through the trees.’
    • ‘It takes a lot of practice, but eventually you'll be able to advance to a faster trot and even a canter and still keep your horse on the bit without getting into a pulling match.’
    • ‘Or you apply those aids and the horse wrings its tail and moves off at a brisk trot instead of the intended canter.’
    • ‘We lapped the track a few times at a walk, trot and canter and Risk went through it pretty smoothly.’
    • ‘Horses continued to be exercised at the trot and canter at the same speeds while traveling approximately 4400 m/d.’
    • ‘The horse is taken through a series of tests, such as the pirouette, piaffe and passage, in a walk, trot and canter.’
    • ‘When you are relaxed and balanced, you can begin to work on following the horse's motion at the walk, trot and canter.’
    • ‘I had only to trot after her horse, and wait until it slowed to a canter, then a trot, and then a walk.’
    • ‘We went on, and whenever it seemed safe I urged the horses into a canter.’
    • ‘The party fell silent as they urged their horses into a canter, then a steady gallop.’
    sanctimonious person, pietist, whited sepulchre, plaster saint, humbug, pretender, deceiver, dissembler, impostor
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    1. 1.1A ride on a horse at a canter.
      ‘we came back from one of our canters’
      • ‘They're just doing normal canters and will be building up to their first piece of work in a few days, I would imagine.’
      • ‘The group loved to go for long canters on their favorite trail, Galope Trail.’
      • ‘He did his final piece of serious work on Tuesday morning, which was grand, and we have just kept him ticking over with a couple of canters.’
      • ‘Nigel is a past master at sending out novices to win big handicaps and I've been following the latter named six-year-old's progress since riding him in a couple of uphill canters on the trainer's Gloucestershire gallops in March last year.’
      • ‘The long distance to night camp provides many opportunities for fast, thrilling canters, the highlight being a tear-streaming 5km rush to lunch beside a waterhole, where we sight more oryx, springbok and ostriches.’
      • ‘We didn't work him all week, the last three mornings here are the first canters he's had since last Sunday.’
      • ‘You'd think that being whisked through the forest by a team of frisky huskies would be fast - to the spectator, at least, it looks more of a canter than a white-knuckle ride.’


  • 1 (of a horse) move at a canter in a particular direction.

    ‘they cantered down into the village’
    • ‘No one is suggesting that Ste-Croix's horses are mistreated, nevertheless there's something sad about seeing such noble beasts prancing and cantering around a cramped ring.’
    • ‘Most of the runners are off the bridle while Shergar is cantering.’
    • ‘My own horse is too old to hunt any longer but whenever the local hunt is nearby, he pricks his ears, snorts and canters around the field, wanting to join in too!’
    • ‘All horses canter well when no rider is on board.’
    • ‘The mare came cantering up, muzzle wet from the water she had been drinking moments before.’
    • ‘Once, after they were tacked up, and out in the ring, trotting and cantering around, Lysander came up to watch them.’
    • ‘‘He doesn't like horses cantering up behind him, he's always been a little silly like that,’ laughed Tryon.’
    • ‘The manes and tails streamed out as the horses cantered.’
    • ‘Just as she reached the stairs to enter the house, an ugly gelding cantered to a stop and the rotund rider ungracefully dismounted.’
    • ‘At stride five, the horse will simply jump and canter away.’
    • ‘But they really don't see much connection between how they, say, lead their horse from the barn to the arena and how they ask that horse to canter.’
    • ‘Moments later, Jean heard her brother's horse cantering into the woods towards town.’
    • ‘They walk and jog clockwise on the far outside of the rail, and they canter and gallop counter-clockwise along the inside rail.’
    • ‘They kicked their horses and they cantered off.’
    • ‘It means that for much of the race the horses are barely cantering and it is not the pace of the steeds but their courage and stamina that matters.’
    • ‘That put the pressure firmly on Best Mate's shoulders with the tension in the crowd palpable as the horses cantered down to the start.’
    • ‘The owner then had to use a rattle can, which is an empty soda can filled with pebbles, to encourage their horse to canter at least once around the arena.’
    • ‘In all 12 horses did some fast work and 26 cantered.’
    • ‘He had a little break from fast work, but he was cantering every day.’
    • ‘By the end of the lesson, she is sitting deep in the saddle as her horse canters in a controlled, relaxed manner.’
    travel, go, move, progress, proceed, make one's way
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    1. 1.1[with object]Make (a horse) move at a canter.
      ‘Katharine cantered Benji in a smaller and smaller circle’
      • ‘He laughed, and once he regained control of his horse, cantered him all the way to the north pasture, with Chubb following closely behind.’
      • ‘Now if a rider canters his horse inside an arena without any obstacles, like a fence or a jump, he could consider himself a dressage rider and should follow certain rules so not to endanger himself or his mount.’
      • ‘Instead, he chose to canter his horse around Epsom in April to familiarise him with the track.’
      • ‘The blond little girl clenched her teeth, cantered her mare to the jump, but the mare put an extra stride in, not giving herself space to jump the fence.’
      • ‘Emma Gifford's high spirits as she cantered her brown mare along the clifftops, claiming her freedom to wander about alone, made her unlike any girl he had met before.’


  • in (or at) a canter

    • Without much effort; easily.

      ‘they retained their leadership of the Second Division at a canter’
      • ‘After winning the World Cup at a canter, save for that epic semi-final against South Africa, the Wallabies failed to convince in their two-match series against Argentina.’
      • ‘She was cool as a cucumber against Seles in the quarter-finals and though she wobbled slightly when match point up against Hingis in the semis, Pierce eventually won at a canter.’
      • ‘We found ourselves fighting an uphill battle after that and to be honest they won it at a canter at the end.’
      • ‘Liverpool won this match in a canter and it was a case of men against boys in the midfield.’
      • ‘Under normal circumstances, we could write it off as no contest; the Six Nations champions would win in a canter, and by a massive margin.’
      • ‘Although Jonny Wilkinson's decisive kick against Australia came just over 12 months ago, it is easy to forget how close Clive Woodward's men came to losing a match that they really should have won at a canter.’
      • ‘With superleague new boys Belfast Giants having already won the title at a canter, it is exactly such factors that make the success of the Ahearne Trophy all the more important.’
      • ‘His lead was briefly threatened by the 66 of the runner-up, who had started the final day well back in the field, but ‘Champagne’ Tony was eventually able to stroll home in a canter.’
      • ‘At the end of a long and one-sided year - Federer won everything that mattered and did it at a canter - the top four men had clearly set themselves above the rest of the pack.’
      • ‘Hull Zingari, who were the last champions of the now defunct Ridings League, won their first game in the York Senior League in a canter when Castleford crashed to a nine wicket defeat at Chanterlands Avenue.’


Early 18th century (as a verb): short for Canterbury pace or Canterbury gallop, from the supposed easy pace of medieval pilgrims to Canterbury.