What is a Horse’s Lead?

horses lead

A lead is a rope (like a leash for a dog) attached to the horse’s halter, used by the handler on the ground. It allows the handler to guide the horse while still keeping a safe distance from them, preventing the risk of injury to either the horse or the handler should they get spooked. A lead is also useful for communicating commands, especially during a race, and the proper use of one can make all the difference in a horse’s performance.

A horse’s lead  is determined by which front leg hits the ground first during the gaits of lope (also known as canter) and gallop. Typically, when a horse is on the correct lead it will stretch its inside front leg and the inside hind leg in a diagonal pair during this stride sequence.

Lead the Way: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Right Horse’s Lead for Every Occasion”

For the most part, a horse will naturally prefer a left lead when performing maneuvers such as barrel racing or bucking bull riding. This is because in these sports it’s most common for the horse to turn a right barrel and then two left ones, thus making it logical that the horse will favor its left lead.

When a horse is on the wrong lead it will feel lopsided to its rider and can cause discomfort for the animal. A horse can easily change its lead by practicing various maneuvers and training exercises with the help of a trainer. A good trainer will be able to teach the horse how to perform each maneuver and quickly switch its lead, giving it the tools it needs to be successful on the track or in other competitions.