Many times when turning a cow on the fence, it manages to come off the fence. There are a few reasons why this happens.
One would be the cow jumping over the horses rear end (see the picture).
There’s no way, that this wouldn’t require a loop. There’s no penalty for this either, as working advantage was never lost.
It is a penalty (1pt), if loss of working advantage was the cause of having to loop in the first place.
What that means is there was a big space/gap between the horse and the cow. Either the turn wasn’t tight, or the horse was slow exiting, or the horse got too deep into the turn and caused it to jump out.
Whatever happened, the horse lost working advantage and so had to loop the cow.
Working advantage can also be lost during the execution of the loop. That means that somewhere in the loop, the horse got far enough away from the cow, to lose working advantage.
I’ve heard it said, that if you couldn’t rope the cow at any time during the loop, you’ve lost working advantage.
So, let’s go back to the picture.
The cow jumps over my horse’s butt.
I would have to wheel around to the right (towards the cow, otherwise I’d be turning tail and get zeroed).
Then, I’d have to shape the cow around to the right, by staying off to it’s left just a bit, or I’d risk jumping it into the fence, or turning it left and switching sides of the arena.
As soon as the cow was approaching the end wall and was committed to going right, I’d switch over and be just off the cows right hip. This would enable me to drive it along the fence until I was ready to turn it again.
If I was on the fence and turned the cow and it came off the fence at a 30* angle, I probably would not loop it, but would try to shape it back to the fence for my next turn. If it was more than 30*-40* would have to decide whether to loop or not to loop.
There’s a higher degree of difficulty and a bigger risk taken if you don’t loop it. It definitely requires more skill for the horse and rider to shape it back to the fence without looping or to execute a good open field turn.
In that split second, the rider has to choose. If you have a horse who can really do an excellent open field turn, go for it! If the angle is wider than 45*, you’d probably want to loop it around.
It’s good showmanship to get the cow shaped however works best, so your horse can get the best turn possible.
Practice all the different scenarios at home, so when you’re showing, choosing the best option becomes second nature.