What Is a Horse’s Lead?

horses lead

A horse’s lead is the shank that extends from its halter and is used to control it. Depending on the material, it may be strong enough to restrain the animal while riding but light enough for handlers to use easily. A high-quality lead is one that can resist abrasion and wear while allowing the handler to keep a firm hold. It is also resistant to corrosion and is designed to be safe for the horse to chew. A good lead will not freeze in cold weather and does not melt, like a synthetic rope, in hot temperatures. It is important for a handler to be familiar with the horse’s lead so he can communicate clearly and quickly with it and also avoid confusing it by using different cues. Read more

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During a lope or gallop the legs on the side of the horse’s body that are being led, or “called,” will reach farther forward than those on the other side. This is how the horse can be distinguished between a left lead and a right lead.

When learning to change leads, it is often easiest to do this while on a longe line so the rider can focus on feeling the horse’s movements and recognizing which lead is correct. The smaller circle of the longe line exaggerates this movement, making it much easier to feel. It is also easy to see that the horse is on the correct lead if it strikes off into the canter because the inside front leg and haunches will swing up slightly higher than the outside.

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