Lope. Should we or shouldn't we?
An interesting thing happened on my family horse guest ranch trip a few weeks ago. I loped My Boy for the first time since his silly misfitted saddle pad crow hops earlier this spring. And you know what? I lived.
Let me clarify, I am not living in fear of loping. It's a combination of things that make me more uncomfortable rather than fearful. I do not like My Boy's lope. It is a bit choppy. He is not a flat-kneed loper. In his defense, he is not an awful loper either, it's just not pretty. I always feel like he's going faster than he is. And I do not like loping in small arenas. It seems to make his speed feel faster and the circle less controlled.
In the guest ranch arena, things were different. The arena was huge. The footing wasn't great (wood chips on top of sand/dirt) but it was more level and forgiving then the arena I ride in. I'm not sure what prompted me to ask My Boy to lope during our rodeo events (umm....a little competition, maybe?) but I did and he was fine and I was fine. Even loping on a straightaway, in a haphazard, let's-go gaming kind of lope.
The one other time we had to lope in a circle was during the egg and spoon ride. The two finalists were so good (that would be me and my cousin Jac) that the only way to get a winner was to pick up the pace. I kissed and gave My Boy a little right leg and off he went into a rather slow, collected lope. I kept the egg steady for almost a whole circle around.
So what did all this loping do for me? It gave me confidence. I am not sure what was different about that trip. Maybe it was all of my family's eyes on me, supporting me, offering to pick the wood chips off my chinks should My Boy decided to get silly and dump me (he never has.) Maybe it was being in a different environment. It felt like we were in the "show" ring and My Boy seemed to think it, to. We weren't just riding at home in the backyard. It felt different. I felt like I could have loped him all over that arena.
Where does this leave me? Eager to try loping again at home. Of course, footing is an issue. The late summer rains have drenched the arena and made it slippery again. I'm telling you, summer is over, my friends. I am not sure the arena will see another dry day until next spring. But I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can get some more "canter work" in soon. It is a good muscle builder for my boy. And for me? Well, goodness, I think I've broke out of my lope mope. Sorry, I couldn't resist that one.