Loping Pen Etiquette

Loping Pen Guidelines

The loping pen is where cutting horses are warmed up and prepared for the show arena. This area can be a very dangerous place. Cutters are also getting themselves prepared to show and can be nervous or simply preoccupied with the task at hand. Common sense and courtesy can help avoid accident or annoying near misses. Here are a few guidelines to help keep the loping pen a safe and pleasant place to get horses ready to show.

Horses in the warm up area travel in the same direction in concentric circles. To enter the loping area, merge into traffic as if you were entering a traffic circle. Look and wait for a clearing. Once in, maintain the same speed as the horse in front of you. If you want to pass, look behind you so you don’t crash into the horse in the other lane. Stay to the inside circle if you want to go slow. This is the slow lane. Stay to the outside circle if you want to go fast. This is the fast lane. Try not to bunch up and talk or stand still anywhere in the traffic. Never stop in traffic. If you must stop, please slow down and exit to an area devoid of traffic. This also applies to dry working your horse. If you are going to do some pulling and spinning, please do it where you have room.

If you see someone that is looking for a way into traffic or an exit out of traffic, please be kind enough to let them in or out. Always remember to think about the other person and how you would feel in a similar situation.

When the time comes to boot up or put on chaps, find a safe place out of traffic. Be careful that your horse is not too close to another horse that might kick or bite. Watch your own horse for signs of rude behavior.

Most youth cutters are in the loping pen to get a horse ready. They can ride and control their horse. They have a good understanding of how to behave themselves. The loping pen is not a place for baby sitting or entertainment, nor for riding lessons. Anyone in the loping area, no matter what the age, should have the ability to control their horse at all times. This is for their own safety as well as for others.

Pedestrians in the loping area should yield to those people who are there to get a horse ready to show. If you must get off your horse, find a safe place to tie them. Do not tie kicking horses or studs in the loping pen. Someone may tie a horse next to them. Do not get upset with someone for spanking your horse if it kicks or bites at them.

Use the loping pen for exercise and to season young horses only when there is enough room. Be considerate of people in there to get their horse ready to show.

Ideally, show management should keep the ground in the loping pen as deep and nice to lope in as the working pen. Horses spend more time pounding the ground in the loping pen than in the show pen. There will be a tractor coming in periodically to work the pen. Move your horse out of the way and move any tied horses away from the area to be worked.

People will want to change direction from time to time. Whether they want to bend their horse the other way or simply are tired of going right and want to go left, slow down, stop and turn your horse around. If you want to go another direction, simply ask someone if they would like to turn around. Do not be offended if some contestant ignores your request, it simply means their horse isn’t broke and they can’t do this maneuver.

Loping Pen Humor

Try to maintain good humor in the pen. People have sometimes been in there for hours, days, a week it seems. Not only can they be preoccupied with what they may be doing, but they may be very tired, even delirious. Try to be defensive only in your driving and keep your attitude on the light side.

A final note . . . Always look out for trainers, horseback or not. Even if they were once a loper, they get instant amnesia when entering the loping pen. Don’t run over them, good help is hard to find. The following may be posted at cuttings in the loping pen:

Loping Pen Etiquette and Guidelines

• All individuals astride a horse in the arena at NCHA-produced events must be NCHA members.
• Stay to the inside if you want to go slow, stay to the outside if you want to go fast.
• Never stop in traffic. Stop and do dry work in an area with no traffic. Apply boots and groom in areas with no traffic.
• If you must tie your horse, tie them to something secure. Do not tie studs, kicking or biting horses in the loping pen. Someone may tie another horse close to them. Do not get upset if someone spanks your horse for kicking or biting.
• Riders must be in control of their horse at all times.
• Look before leaving or entering traffic. Yield to lopers.
• Do not exercise horses or season young horses when there is limited space in this loping area.
• Do not weave in and out of traffic without looking. Maintain constant speed and stay to inside when going slow to help avoid the need for other people to have to weave in and out of traffic.
• Change directions and maintain flow in one direction when asked. Always ask when you wish to change directions.
• Yield to tractor and be careful of pedestrians and other lopers wishing to exit or enter. Leave pen when asked by announcer.
• Try to maintain a good sense of humor. People may be tired and nervous. Be patient with newcomers and try to help them learn by referring them to these guidelines.
• Do not pony horses in the arena at NCHA-produced shows.
• To use your cell phone, move out of the flow of traffic.


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Manitoba Cutting Horse Association
Manitoba Cutting Horse Association