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Old 01-28-2010, 11:54 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swale84
Sometimes when a horse who is adept at changing leads all of a sudden won't change them during a race or training, a trainer will look for something that might be bothering the horse physically...
A good example of this is a Ron Ellis-trained horse running Saturday at Santa Anita, Canonize. He won his first two starts last spring in impressive fashion, while changing leads entering the stretch in both. In his 3rd and last start, the Laz Barrera in which he was favored, he struggled down the lane on his left lead (he may have switched just nearing the wire), finishing 3rd.

Not surprisingly, he went to the sidelines and is coming off an 8-month layoff this weekend.
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Old 12-23-2011, 09:42 AM   #17
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Lead Change Study

http://www.equinews.com/article/race...rences-studied

When horses negotiate a turn, they usually choose to gallop with the leading leg corresponding to the direction of the turn; hence, a racehorse turning to the left is most balanced and comfortable on the left lead. On a straight course, either lead can be used, and horses tend to change leads several times during a race. The author suggests that the choice of lead may be linked to biomechanical factors affecting ease of breathing (each complete gallop stride is accompanied by one inhalation and exhalation) or “handedness” (individual preference for one lead over the other).
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Old 12-24-2011, 12:16 AM   #18
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They "can" use their right lead in the turns also, but it would be very awkward for them to do so. They switch to their right leads in the stretches so as not to get tired.

The test in that thesis is flawed. For one they did not seem to account for the fact that most horses are taught to start out slow in their right lead when training. Most horses are eased into a gallop on the straightaways.

Last edited by breeze; 12-24-2011 at 12:27 AM.
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Old 12-24-2011, 02:27 PM   #19
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I'd be curious to know if there is different muscular development between US based horses that run counter clockwise and horses in other countries that run clock wise.

I also wonder of there are left handed and right handed horses (like humans) that would be better suited to running in one direction or the other.

If so, there may be mild bargains to be found on ether side of the Atlantic that could be shipped to the other side.
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Old 12-25-2011, 07:01 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by classhandicapper
I'd be curious to know if there is different muscular development between US based horses that run counter clockwise and horses in other countries that run clock wise.

I also wonder of there are left handed and right handed horses (like humans) that would be better suited to running in one direction or the other.

If so, there may be mild bargains to be found on ether side of the Atlantic that could be shipped to the other side.
Yes horses are left/right handed like humans.
Outside of Hong Kong, which only has 2 tracks, I don't believe there is any country that runs exclusively clockwise. The other side of the Atlantic is about half/half, with some courses having both left and right turns. Probably a similar breakdown for Japan and Australia.
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Old 12-25-2011, 12:28 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nearco
Yes horses are left/right handed like humans.
In all the years I've been around horses, I've never heard "dominant leg" or "dominant lead" mentioned or discussed, either by horsemen or veterinarians.

In addition, I've never observed any horse of which I suspected this was the case.

I'm just curious as to how this is determined....
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Old 12-25-2011, 02:20 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSB
In all the years I've been around horses, I've never heard "dominant leg" or "dominant lead" mentioned or discussed, either by horsemen or veterinarians.

In addition, I've never observed any horse of which I suspected this was the case.

I'm just curious as to how this is determined....
You will only notice it at the canter, but most young horses when first ridden will have a preference for one side over the other and will favour either the left or right lead, and be resistant to pick up the weaker lead. Unlike humans though, it doesn't take much to make them ambidextrous.

American TBs when they come off the track and are re trained for other careers will often require extra time developing the right lead. Some horses, like roping horses for example, are ridden almost exclusively on the right lead. Many ranch horses, being ex-ropesr, will spend their lives cantering and galloping on one lead. Granted that is human induced imbalance, but horses in natural circumstances will have a preference.
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Old 12-25-2011, 03:41 PM   #23
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Leads are all about balance and comfort for the horse.

As already discussed, turns are where leads are crucial. On a turn left, the horse's legs should strike the ground: Right Hind, Left Hind, Right Front, Left Front. This puts the horse in it's best balance to negotiate the turn. The tighter the turn, the more the horse needs the correct lead.

In training horses for disciplines such as jumpers and dressage, the horse is put on very shallow turns and asked to canter along on the incorrect lead. The purpose of this training exercise is to enhance the horse's balance. The reason for the shallow turns, is to not stress the horse's body.

The only "reason" in racing for the horse to run on the right lead (Left Hind, Right Hind, Left Front, Right Front) along the backstretch and homestretch, is to offset the work of the turns, relieving fatigue. As previously mentioned, leads are truly meaningless on straight lines.

In all my years of riding and training, we've always classified horses as preferring right or left leads. At some schools, there is usually a lesson horse or two that are just horrible with one of their leads, so caution is always used with directions at the canter.

Get to know the horse to know whether racing on the wrong lead is a problem, a habit, or a strength. Lead changes require effort, and sometimes a horse just simply may not have the energy to produce the change.

For a look at a lead change in slow motion, though not racing, here is a video from youtube. The difference between racing and non-racing, is where the change starts. In race horses, the lead change starts with the front legs and then catches up on the hind legs. Here in this video, you will see the horse change the hind legs first, with the front legs to follow.

[YT="Lead Change Slow Mo"]iUgnXKK0ris[/YT]
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Last edited by Observer; 12-25-2011 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 12-26-2011, 12:32 PM   #24
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I ride horses (not racehorses) and have found that most riding horses have one side stronger than the other. They are usually demonstrably better tracking one direction or the other. It may be because of early training or the result of how they have been ridden over the years or the result of past injury but there is usually a difference.
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Old 12-26-2011, 04:03 PM   #25
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Watching the hindstrike makes it easier to spot which lead a horse is on. If the left hind hits first, then the right foreleg is leading. Experience has also taught me that racing on the wrong lead is often a by-product of pain, infirmity or sore, choppy action. Using the right fore to lead on an american turn is a bad, bad sign, as is shifting back and forth between leads on a straightaway.

On a related note, I think it looks bush and costs a horse momentum when a jock flings his weight to encourage a lead shift. That's an aspect of race riding that's probably more apparent from the pan shot than from the saddle itself.
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Old 12-29-2011, 05:09 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainman
On a related note, I think it looks bush and costs a horse momentum when a jock flings his weight to encourage a lead shift. That's an aspect of race riding that's probably more apparent from the pan shot than from the saddle itself.
That's what happened to Flat Out in the BC Classic stretch. It made him change leads, but also move over too much towards Havre de Grace (with Flat Out closing in fast). Just at that moment Dominguez on top of Havre de Grace swung his stick very widely. Flat Out almost got hit in the head and reacted with an abrupt avoidance leap that made him bump into the horse on his other side. Lost momentum and the race right there. Not suggesting that Drosselmeyer wouldn't have won, but that body weight shift had rather large consequences there.

A trainer told me horses change lead legs going into the first turn, and again in the stretch.
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