recognizing leads

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recognizing leads

This is a discussion on recognizing leads within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Recognising horse cantering correct leg
  • Recoognizing a horses lead

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    03-07-2009, 06:29 PM
Question recognizing leads

I am a fairly good rider, im not horribly experienced because of lack of riding time. But one thing that I have never gotten the hang of is recognizing leads that the horse will naturally take, and how to manage lead changed and pretty much the whole process.
I would really love to get some explanation on this, it would be a great help
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    03-07-2009, 07:46 PM
Well, I can usually tell if the horse is on the wrong lead because you can usually feel it. :) It just doesn't feel right, it feels off. You can also tell if a horse is on the wrong lead by looking at its legs. For example, if the inside shoulder is going out before the outside shoulder, than it's the wrong lead. But getting on the correct lead can take some time with some horses. Like, the horse I ride, he has a 'good' side, & that's to the right. His left side's a bit harder for him to get on the right lead. It just takes some practice. If you need to know help on what lead & how to get on it, I can also explain that. But when you're on the wrong one, you can just feel it.
    03-07-2009, 08:20 PM
Alrighty, I know its a big no-no to look down when riding, but I learned my leads by asking for the canter and looking at the wither. Use your peripheral vision to observe the shoulders. If the Inside shoulder (shoulder not against the rail) seems to be moving forward further than the other shoulder, then you are on the correct lead. If the outside shoulder seems to be bulging further forward than the inside, then you are on the incorrect lead.

When observing a horse cantering, the leg that outstretches the furthest is the lead that the horse is performing. So if the front right leg is the 3rd leg to hit the ground, and stretches out further than the other front leg, the horse is on the Right Lead.

I hope that makes sense o_o as far as riding goes, as Poptart said, you'll really feel when the horse is on the incorrect lead, especially as you go into a corner. The horse will not want to bend in the corner and will usually break to the trot, or do a flying lead change to get back on the correct lead. Most of the time they just break to the trot though, lol... its lazier that way.

I hope that helps and it made sense, LOL im better with talking, not typing :p recognizing leads is easy once you figure out what you're lookin at!
    03-07-2009, 10:14 PM
Haha, I tend to 'peek' sometimes too. We all do it! Haha, but also very true about the corner thing. They do tend to break into the trot.
    03-07-2009, 10:21 PM
I was taught to take a quick peek lol. But now I can feel if the horse has the correct lead or not. Once the horse starts to canter it's really beneficial to take a "passenger lesson" and just feel what it feels like to ride the canter on the specific lead....what is your body doing? What does it feel like? All that kinda stuff :)
    03-07-2009, 11:41 PM
The best way to remember what leads are and if you are on the right one is when you are cantering in an arena, look down at your horses shoulder and which ever leg hits the ground last is the lead that you are on. When you are on the correct lead, your horses inside front leg should hit the ground last. To practice doing flying lead changes, it is easiest to practice them when you are going around a turn. Practicing figure 8's is a great lead changing exercise.
    03-08-2009, 09:58 AM
I have been having this exact problem. I got to the point that if I look down at the horses shoulder I can tell which lead they are in. I've sent my gelding in for barrel training and so the trainer is teaching me as well. When the horse is loping whichever lead they are in your hip should be leading as well. For example: if the horse is going in a straight line and your right hip is slightly farther forward than your left that means they are in the right lead.

To get a horse to go into the right lead they should first be able to move their hips on command. Once they can do that then when you tell them to go off into a lope you should use your leg and hands. For example: if you want to go into the right lead you should slightly pick up the right rein and use your left leg to move their hips over and then ask them to lope. Now I must add that this is all easier said than done. When I ride my gelding half the time he will go into the wrong lead but I know that is becuase he is just learning and I'm not giving him the best cues so he gets a bit confused.

I hope this was helpful :)
    03-08-2009, 01:31 PM
Don;t feel bad for asking this question, by the way. I'll have you know I was the slow learner in my class, LOL. It took me about 6 months to learn my leads AFTER I started cantering. I! Finally, I watched and studied a horse at liberty cantering and that's when my instructor told me about the most outstretched front leg being the lead they were on. Then I was like.... OOOH! LMAO!

On top of that, I think the reason it took me so long is I was a nervous canter-er, and I was afraid to look down while I was moving that fast (I learned leads on my lovable 3 1/2 year old gelding... YAY (sarcasm!!)) Finally one day I got on an old trusty lesson horse and just plain stared down at the withers (i was the only one in the arena) and that's when I finally saw the shoulder movement in my peripherals. Now I just know what lead the horse is on.

I can even tell if im cantering on a trail because my horses have a very slight bend in the direction of the lead. I've also noticed that when a horse is cantering on the incorrect lead while riding the rail, they tend to get really strung out, and cock their head toward the rail to attempt to keep the bend so they can maintain the lead.

If I come across a horse that is particularly stubborn with picking up a certain lead, I will do a tight 10 meter circle and ask during the last part of the circle, right before we hit the rail. It is VERY important to make sure your horse is supple and bent to the inside or else it wont work. The circle will help put them in the correct bend. Its funny, some horses will try their hardest to bend to the outside of the circle to pick up the wrong lead.. lol!

Hope my ramblings still make sense, lol!
    03-08-2009, 10:23 PM
Thanks you guys! I havnt been able to ride in a few months, my horse had surgery and I changed farms because of a horrible manager!!! So I havnt been able to ride for a while and im getting rusty ive just started him over some small caviletti and he's doing great I just don't want to confuse the crap out of him once I start riding him, he's still trained like a racehorse. Lol
    03-09-2009, 09:48 PM
I don't know if it has been said, but you can feel it in your seat. The lead you are in is also your leading hip/leg. It will be slightly further forward, and eventually you can feel it. And the leg that is further behind tends to be where you naturally put more of your weight. For example, if you are in the right lead, your right leg and hip will be in front of your left leg and hip. It's hard to get the hang of at first, but eventually you'll develop the feel for it. When in doubt take a quick glance down.

Hopefully that helped and I'm not just repeating

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