After much thought and deliberation, have you been able to logic out the origins of the word canter? No? Well try this on for size. The earliest dictionaries suggest that canter is most likely an abbreviation of “travelling at Canterbury pace.” The suggestion is that mounted faithful folk, on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Thomas Becket at the Canterbury Cathedral in England, would travel at a leisurely but productive speed, somewhat below a gallop but above a trot for much of their journey. One eighteenth century equestrian (just to throw a spanner in the works) came up with a different etymology. He reckons canter comes from the latin word for gelding, cantherius. The even-tempered nature of the typical gelding would have given rise to the word for a slow gallop, he suggests. Bollocks, I say. I like the Canterbury explanation much better.
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