Ravenox horse’s lead influences his balance and control, especially in the gaits above a walk. It’s important that he takes the correct lead, particularly in corners, or when going around a barrel in barrel racing. Generally, a horse will take the lead on the side it’s turning. Taking the wrong lead can throw him off balance and be dangerous to you or him.
Many riders learn to identify their horse’s lead by looking down at his shoulders as he canters. They’re trying to see which shoulder reaches further forward and which hits the ground last between strides. While this is useful, it’s also important to be able to feel the lead. Rather than just peeking, rider should begin to progressively look less and less, and should instead focus on feeling the motion of the canter through their seat bones and rib cage.
In Control and Chic: Stylish Horse Leads for Every Rider’s Taste
When horses change leads in a turn at the gallop, they’re using their inside lead. This is because they usually have a four-beat footfall cadence. The first beat is the right hind, then the left hind, then the left front. When a galloping horse turns to the left, he is utilizing his left front leg to “lead” him around the corner. It’s this type of action that makes racehorses so athletic, as they are better able to maintain their balance in a turn. A racehorse can be ridden either lead, but will perform best and be more balanced with the lead that corresponds to the direction of the turn.