How do I know if I'm on the right leg?
   

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How do I know if I'm on the right leg?

This is a discussion on How do I know if I'm on the right leg? within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • How can you tell if a horse is on the right leg
  • How to see if you are on the right lead on a horse without looking down

 
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    09-22-2011, 12:30 PM
  #1
Foal
How do I know if I'm on the right leg?

I've been riding weekly for just over two years now, at a riding school where I've also been helping out for the last few months to get some more hands-on experience with the horses.

I'm going to be riding on my own a bit more (not lessons, but with supervision obviously) and without an instructor on the ground, 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.

Any tips please?
     
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    09-22-2011, 01:47 PM
  #2
Foal
Quote:
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 ])

Quote:
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 1627 km/h (1017 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.[9] The word is thought to be short for "Canterbury gallop."[10]

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.[9]

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".[9]

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?
     
    09-22-2011, 02:45 PM
  #3
Foal
Thankyou for the excellent input!

Before I go any further, am I right in thinking that, say, if the right rein was the inside rein (another quick thing - when someone refers to being on the left/right rein, is means that the right/left rein is the inside rein, correct?), you would want the horse to strike off and sort of 'propel' himself using the inside (so in this case right) hindleg? So striking off the inside hindleg would be regarded as correct?
     
    09-22-2011, 03:37 PM
  #4
Super Moderator
When you are "on the rail" meaning you are riding along the fenceline, the inside rein is the rein that is towards the inside of the arena. The outside rein is the one that is towards the fenceline.

The easiest way to tell which lead you are on (not the most correct way) but if you glance down at the horses inside shoulder when you are cantering, that is the leg that should be forward first. It's the "Lead" leg....

Does that help?
     
    09-22-2011, 04:06 PM
  #5
Foal
You've misunderstood me, farmpony. I know which rein is outside and inside, but I wanted to know, when someone says, for example, 'walk round the arena on the left rein' does that mean that the left rein is the inside or outside rein. I think that it's the inside but would like to make sure.

As for the second bit; how am I supposed to know which is the first beat?

Sorry for being a little bit stupid.
     
    09-22-2011, 04:57 PM
  #6
Ink
Weanling
The lead leg is the one the moves out the farthest when the horse is cantering. If you glance down at our horse's shoulder while you're cantering you should notice one moving a little farther forward than the other. Your lead leg should always be on the inside of your circle. A good way to practice is to ride with someone on the ground watching you. Once you pick up your canter tell them what lead you think you're on and the person on the ground can tell you if you're right or wrong.

Ideally you want to get to the point where you can feel what lead your horse is on without looking down. In theory the movement of the horse will throw one of your hips forwar, some horses more so than others. But again practice with a friend. Once you get good at telling what lead your on by looking down start trying to feel it without looking down.
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    09-22-2011, 05:29 PM
  #7
Foal
Going on the right or left rein is just which direction you are heading round the area right rein - right direction, left rein- left direction xx
     
    09-22-2011, 10:05 PM
  #8
Trained
Yes, to say you're traveling on the left rein means the direction you are going makes your left rein the inside rein.
     
    09-23-2011, 12:51 AM
  #9
Foal
Quote:
Thankyou for the excellent input!

Before I go any further, am I right in thinking that, say, if the right rein was the inside rein (another quick thing - when someone refers to being on the left/right rein, is means that the right/left rein is the inside rein, correct?), you would want the horse to strike off and sort of 'propel' himself using the inside (so in this case) right hindleg? So striking off the inside hindleg would be regarded as correct?
Welcome! And yes, what you are saying right there is correct. Like what Ink has to say though, when you are riding just glance down at first and see which of your horses front legs is reaching the farthest. That will tell you what lead you are on.

Quote:
Ideally you want to get to the point where you can feel what lead your horse is on without looking down. In theory the movement of the horse will throw one of your hips forward, some horses more so than others. But again practice with a friend. Once you get good at telling what lead your on by looking down start trying to feel it without looking down.
Yes! I was going to edit this into my post also! There is a new editing rule though -can't edit after 10 minutes.

Also, this may sound goofy but maybe try "cantering" like a horse yourself. In a few summer camp games we put on for the kids we had them "canter" like a horse. I found when playing with them it just kind of helps you get a feeling for which way your hip would be moving if you were cantering. Say you were "cantering" and leading with your right leg. The feeling in your hip would be much of the same feeling it would be if you were cantering with a right lead riding a horse. Then switch to your left leg. I don't know, it's just a suggestion. X]
     

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