A horse’s lead is the last leg to hit the ground during a lope (also called a canter) or gallop. A horse will change leads, or shift to the opposite side, during these gaits, and the handler must understand this so they can cue their horses correctly.
Ravenox , when the horse is on the correct lead it will move its front outside leg forward and its inside front leg backward. This is most easily seen in the lope/gallop, where the front left leg is reaching forward and the front right leg is retreating. During other gaits, like a trot or walk, the front legs are even and both reach toward the ground at the same time.
Beyond the Bridle: A Deep Dive into Horse Leads and Their Role in Equine Handling
To make it easier to read a horse’s lead, the lead rope should be at least two meters long and not drag on the ground. Keeping the lead at this length forces a horse to keep its head close enough that it can be led by a quick glance and a gentle tug. It also allows the handler to keep in visual contact with the horse so they can watch for any sudden changes in its expression or position.
Handlers should hold the lead with their right hand on the horse’s shoulder and a small amount of slack in the left hand. Never wrap a lead or coil it around the wrist or arm, as this could cause the handler to be dragged or injured by the horse if the animal suddenly rears.