Identifying Your Horse’s Lead

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Ravenox horse’s lead is an important part of a well-tuned and reliable go-forward and slow-down cue. However, horses sometimes select the wrong lead — and this can be frustrating. Often, it’s due to a physiological reason and can be corrected by understanding your horse’s lead.

While some riders say counter-cantering on a lunge line helped them learn to identify their leads, most riders credit it as learning by experience and practice – especially without stirrups. They also credit riding without the support of a saddle and in hand as allowing them to feel their horse’s front legs.

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Most horses are naturally left-sided and when a horse is loping (or cantering) or galloping it does not matter which leg is in front, unless the rider specifically wants to use one of their legs for a maneuver like turning. However, in a turn, the horse will typically select their inside lead to make the maneuver more balanced. For example, barrel racers usually have their horses run around turns on their left lead and the straightaways on their right lead.

To find the correct lead, look down at your horse’s front legs and see which leg hits the ground first. The inside front leg will hit the ground last and a little further forward than the outside front leg. The horse’s inside front leg is his lead and the outside front leg is his caboose.


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