by Albert Barsanti
(Whippany, N.J. 07981)
Why is it important for a horse to change his lead coming home?
Sometimes you hear that a horse is on the wrong lead - what does that mean?
Answer: The lead leg refers to which set of legs advance before the other. When horses race on a track with curves they will use the leg nearest the curve as the lead leg. This helps it maintain its balance.
In North America race tracks usually run counter clockwise. A horse will lead off its left leg to maintain its balance.
However using the same lead leg throughout a race is tiring for the horse so switching the lead leg helps it to maintain its pace.
Race tracks usually approach the finish line on a straight so a horse coming off the bend can change leads to its rested leg. Thus giving it the best chance of a fast finish.
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