The lead is which set of legs a horse advances forward to a greater degree during the gaits lope and gallop. When a horse is on the correct lead its front inside leg is hitting the ground first. The front outside leg is hitting the ground second. Generally, a horse’s leads only make a difference during the lope and gallop, but the correct lead can affect a horses ability to be athletic in certain situations and to move well through bends or circles. URL ravenox.com
Last month in Science of Racing, we discussed the stride and how a horse’s legs strike the ground during a loping or galloping gallop. This month, we’ll take a look at the lead change and how it impacts the performance of a racehorse.
From Nylon to Leather: Unraveling the World of Horse Lead Materials
Position One: The leader walks nose to tail, close to the horse’s neck and shoulders, but not so far back that it is not able to control the horse in the face of an unexpected obstacle or transition. This position is used to train the horse to walk at a steady pace and stay focused on the trail, or while navigating obstacles that demand patience (such as walking down a steep hill). Hazards: The leader may get too distracted and be unable to communicate with the horse, leaving him open to bolting, bucking, rearing, spinning, spooking, etc.
Position Two: The leader stands slightly further away from the horse, but still at or near the horses shoulder and neck. The leader maintains contact with the horse through the reins, tipped towards the direction of travel and taps lightly on the horses girth with their inside leg (the leg closest to the rider). In time, this teaches the horse to respond to his human’s verbal cues for stops, acceleration, etc.