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Correct Lead ???

The Canter: Explained 

What does it mean to “canter”?

The canter is the horse’s gait one speed faster than a trot. It’s a three-beat gait that usually starts with the outside back leg – the leg closest to the arena rail – followed by the inside hind leg and outside front leg in a diagonal pair, finishing with the front inside leg sweeping forward. 



What is a “lead”?

The lead is determined by the front leg that is sweeping forward last in the canter stride sequence. The horse will stretch that inside front leg and the inside hind leg further forward than the outside legs with each stride. 

How do you tell if a horse is on the correct lead?

You can notice the horse’s lead just from watching which front leg swings forward last and further before the horse repeats the stride. 

The easiest way to find a lead is by looking down at the horse’s shoulders. The shoulder going further forward, the one that is last hitting the ground between each stride, is the lead. 

The “correct” lead is when the horse’s inside front leg is leading first. For example: When the horse is cantering a circle to the right, the horse’s right front leg should be leading first. That means you are on the right lead, which is the correct lead for when your circle is turning to the right.

By AQHA Professional Horseman David Miller with Abigail Boatwright 


It is important to be able to see and recognize a correct or incorrect lead so that your horse will be in balance.


Below is a great video showing what a correct lead looks like, as well as showing "cross firing".



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