I just can't tell whether I'm cantering on the right leg. Most of the time I am, but asked the question I wouldn't know, and it's hard for me to tell on the ground too.
Having the right leg or "right lead" depends on which direction you are going in the arena. If you are going clockwise
in the arena your correct lead is going to be the right leg
. If you are riding counter-clockwise
your correct lead is going to be the left leg
. Basically, the side closest the the inside of the arena should be the leg your horse is leading with.
To understand this though, you must first understand how a horse moves at a canter. For instance, when a horse is trotting, their feet move in the same pattern as if they were walking -it's just faster. Just watch this horses front legs or back legs, they just go in the pattern (left,right,left,right,left,right ect..) Pause the videos at intervals if need be to really understand how all four feet are moving together. (It's just like us crawling on the floor on our hands and knees.) The Right front
and left hind
reach forward at the same time. Then the Left front
and right hind
reach forward at the same time. The legs diagonal of each other move together.
Now, for some reason, I am having difficulties, putting into words, how a horse canters.
SOOO I found this piece out of a Wikipedia Article (I did not write this. [obviously
The canter is a controlled, three-beat gait that usually is a bit faster than the average trot, but slower than the gallop. The average speed of a canter is between 16–27 km/h (10–17 mph), depending on the length of the stride of the horse. Listening to a horse canter, one can usually hear the three beats as though a drum had been struck three times in succession. Then there is a rest, and immediately afterwards the three-beat occurs again. The faster the horse is moving, the longer the suspension time between the three beats.
The word is thought to be short for "Canterbury
In the canter, one of the horse's rear legs – the right rear leg, for example – propels the horse forward. During this beat, the horse is supported only on that single leg while the remaining three legs are moving forward. On the next beat the horse catches itself on the left rear and right front legs while the other hind leg is still momentarily on the ground. On the third beat, the horse catches itself on the left front leg while the diagonal pair is momentarily still in contact with the ground.
The more extended foreleg is matched by a slightly more extended hind leg on the same side. This is referred to as a "lead". Except in special cases, such as the counter-canter, it is desirable for a horse to lead with its inside legs when on a circle. Therefore, a horse that begins cantering with the right rear leg as described above will have the left front and hind legs each land farther forward. This would be referred to as being on the "left lead".
When a rider is added to the horse's natural balance, the question of the lead becomes more important. When riding in an enclosed area such as an arena, the correct lead provides the horse with better balance. The rider typically signals the horse which lead to take when moving from a slower gait into the canter. In addition, when jumping over fences, the rider typically signals the horse to land on the correct lead to approach the next fence or turn. The rider can also request the horse to deliberately take up the wrong lead (counter-canter), a move required in some dressage
competitions and routine in polo
, which requires a degree of collection and balance in the horse. The switch from one lead to another without breaking gait is called the "flying lead change" or "flying change
". This switch is also a feature of dressage and reining
schooling and competition.
If a horse is leading with one front foot but the opposite hind foot, it produces an awkward rolling movement, called a cross-canter, disunited canter or "cross-firing."
The lope is a Western term for the canter.
Here is a video of a horse cantering on it's "Right Lead"
Here is a video of a horse that does a flying lead change (which you read about above.)
This horse starts out cantering on his "Left Lead" in seconds 1-4.
In seconds 5-6 he does a "Flying Lead Change" switching over to a "Right Lead".
In seconds 7-10 you see him canter on a "Right Lead". I really hope this helps, I may have explained it in a confusing way and I'm sure there will be other people that explain it better.
I suggest you read this entire Wikipedia article about horses gaits. It's very straightforward and explains nicely I think. This is where I got the "Canter" explanation. Horse gait - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Best of luck to you! And when you are at the barn DO NOT BE SHY TO ASK someone who's there to explain also! Don't be scared of being seen as silly or something, you simply just haven't learned yet. If someone hasn't shown you how, how are you suppose to know?