Retraining a pacer, can it be done


The Friesian
Sep 12, 2004
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Sorry another thread about Mystical.

Mystical is a Standardbred and therefore paces, she used to race but from what I gather she retired due to injury. She is only 7 and has a lovely nature, a very gentle horse and although my daughter is happy at the moment to ride at a walk and Mysty is happy to do that too the time will come for cantering Mysty.

At the moment when we urge her into canter she paces and will eventually canter a couple of strides. When she starts to pace I bring her back to a trot and we try again. Can anyone give me advice on how to stop her pacing or is it something we will just have to deal with. Her trot is lovely and of course the pacing is a weee bit uncomfortable :D Or would a professional trainer be a better option.


New Member
Feb 27, 2002
It sounds like you're doing it right: continue to ask until she gets it, reward her and let her canter for a while (don't stop right away). If she paces, do stop right away and ask again.

Asking again and again tells the horse that she hasn't quite gotten it yet. When you stop asking, it tells her that this time she did it right. So just be sure that when she does get it, you let her go for a while and make a big deal of wht a good girl she is :)
Dec 4, 2004
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I am not very experienced with pacing and horses, but if theres a will then theres a way! If you have the training ability and want to do it, and the horse has the want to learn as well, then anything can be done. So yes, I think definetly it for certain can be done! :)


Official Pony Cuddler
Jan 17, 2004
The Frigid North(MN,USA)
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My boss had Standardbreds

Now if you want a standardbred to canter-up hill helps and having another horse who is cantering next to him will help. He will figure it out easier with someone to follow and mimic.

Good luck.

There are some awesome standardbred trail horses out there!


New Member
Mar 8, 2005
Pengapenga - not quite the same situation as yours, but I took on loan a 14 year old (approx) standardbred, no papers, no exact history, but he had obviously never been allowed to canter.

To start with it was an absolute nightmare: he would canter in front and trot behind, or vice versa, and would change legs either in front or behind every two or three strides. On the right rein he was so unsure that his only option seemed to be to rush round as fast as possible, bent to the outside, to try and keep his balance.

Luckily I had a very patient instructor! For canter we worked on a circle. As long as he was trying to canter, we continued, letting him sort out his leads. If he broke back into a trot (he never paced), then I would steady him down, and ask for canter again.

Gradually the number of strides he could do correctly increased; he still finds left rein far easier than right, but now, some four years later, he will strike off correctly almost always, and scarcely ever changes legs unless I have done something silly to unbalance him.

We do quite a lot of work on trot/canter transitions, which really help; to set up right canter we usually do a little shoulder-in in trot just before, and that seems to make it easier for him.

I still sometimes envy people whose horses strike off into a perfect rhythmical three-beat canter on either leg and can sustain it indefinitely, but on the other hand the satisfaction of remembering our first few attempts and comparing it with what he has learned now is immense, and I am just so proud of him!

Sorry, seem to have gone on a bit, but the gist of it is, it may take time and patience, but there's no reason Mysty shouldn't be cantering perfectly before too long.

Hope this helps.


Jan 5, 2002
USA (((maine)))
When my moms mare came to us she was 15 but i dont think she had done very much cantering. She also used to race, not sure if she was a pacer or a trotter though. She trots REALLY fast but she also paces sometimes. anyway she would trot faster and fast and faster and then canter a little and go back to her fast trot. it took a lot of doing what you are, getting it, praising and trying again. i found it easiest to try and get it from a walk, though that really didn't happen to often, at first i cowgirled it and just tried to get her to canter, later on i worked on a nicer looking transitions. good luck with your stb :)


The Friesian
Sep 12, 2004
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Thanks for your encouraging replies. She is eager to please and is clever too so I shall perservere (sp :eek: ) with the bringing her back to trot when she paces and loads of praise when we get a proper canter :D

I live in Perth and am between 'the hills' and the ocean so flat flat ground :D will give her a few more schooling sessions before taking her up into the hills for a trail ride. .


The Friesian
Sep 12, 2004
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I thought I would let you all know that today we did some schooling with Mystical and she was such a good girl and did some proper canter strides and only paced twice! Her canter looked a little unbalanced but when I was watching the rider, she was not in a great position so after correcting her position the pair were much more balanced and indeed the last canter was much better and Mystical stayed in the canter for about 40m, still a lot of work to do but an encouraging session :) she really perked at all the praise she was receiving :D and her rider did very well too :D
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