The HDV12 German Cavalry Manual is full of language that is specific to the equestrian environment and classical German horsemanship.
This unique equestrian vocabulary developed over hundreds of years of cavalry tradition and has no equivalent in the English language. Some terms can be translated quite easily – e. g. “Arbeitsgalopp” or Working Canter – others are difficult and need additional explanation, e.g. “Durchlässigkeit” (throughness).
When we read the HDV12 German Cavalry Manual on the Training of Horse and Rider, it helps to have a visual to understand what is meant.
Working canter is a sustainable forward canter at a relaxed yet energetic pace. The posture is NOT dressage posture, but a more open, natural frame that the horse can maintain effortlessly (during work) for a sustained period of time without fatigue.
“Shortened” working canter then is the same canter with shortened strides. The horse does not lose rhythm or cadence but does cover less ground than at the working canter. This without losing the relaxed, straight, upright and forward frame.
The Working Canter as a Gymnastic Exercise
If ridden correctly—relaxed, straight, in front of the vertical—lengthening and shortening the canter strides is an excellent gymnastic exercise to build the topline and strengthen the horse’s back by working the upper neck musculature and relaxing and contracting the long back muscles.
Here a video that shows “Shortened Working Canter“, old remount in the second year of (re)schooling. And, yes, the horse is wearing an original M25 German Army Saddle with folded wool blanket (folding instructions can be found in the HDV12 German Cavalry Manual).