I stress the importance of being a confident rider at all three gaits – walk, trot and lope – because if you’re only comfortable at the walk and trot and never lope your horse, you’re setting yourself up to fail. If you can’t lope your horse confidently and you take him out on the trail and something spooks him and he takes off, you’re likely to get in a wreck.
Instead of being able to confidently do a One Rein Stop and regain control of the situation, you’re apt to grip his sides with your legs and grab his mouth with the reins in an effort to stay in the saddle. That’ll make the horse feel trapped and claustrophobic and frighten him even more.
You have to have the ability to stay balanced in the saddle and control the situation – at any gait. That means that you have to be confident and able to focus on gaining control of the horse and reassuring him and not become paralyzed by your own fear. If you’re fearful and the horse is fearful, you’re guaranteed to get into a bad wreck.