I'm completely ignorant about western riding, as I'm a Brit whose only education has come from places like this. But I've been wondering about the lope gait.
In general, most things we look for in shows or conformation or other horsey attributes have their roots in health, comfort and practicality. For example, in conformation, while a pretty head is largely an aesthetic choice, good legs are those that are likely to stay sound and a sloping shoulder gives a more comfortable trot.
While I know it requires good athletic ability to perform well, I can't get it out of my head that the lope looks like a hobble to me! Horses moving with heads so low, slowly with such an odd (to me) motion - it looks so different to the canter I'm told to aim for in my riding lessons!
But the two are born out of totally different circumstances and needs. I know that western riding is born out of cowboys and so on; what was practical and comfortable for the riding they did in their lives. What I'm wondering is what factors led to the lope's currently approved traits. What properties does the lope (or the original ancestor of the lope before it was adjusted by judges and show-organisers) have to make it desirable? Having only ever ridden horses in what America calls english riding (but we just call riding ;)), I've no idea what a lope feels like or what its uses are.
Thank you ^^