HomeUncategorizedArena work.. or not.


Arena work.. or not. — 2 Comments

  1. Rose and I just got serious about dressage lessons a few months ago and let me say that while I used to hate arena work now I really enjoy it.

    Rose was a lot like your mare, bracey and racey in the arena. We loved the trail and while she was responsive on the trail she became unbalanced in open areas. The first few weeks in the arena were rough, I thought I was going to come off every lesson and my instructor just kept telling me to take control. One day, maybe a bit embaressed by my naughty mare around all these lovely well behaved ponies, I lit into her. She went to buck and race and I pulled her head around so fast and smacked her shoulder hard with the crop. She stopped and behaved the rest of the lesson. Next lessons she tries again only to find the same response… and she's stopped trying most days. She still will test me somedays and I think a good thinking horse always will but I much prefer the working attitude.

    Maybe my rambling will help. I struggled for a long time to feel like I was getting where I wanted to go in my lessons and it took realizing my horse needed some basics and manners to change the way I rode her. I understand the fear of being bucked off at the canter, it's the only time I've been bucked off with major injury too. The important thing is that you get back on and that ultimately you gain control of that bit. She'll love you all the more for being the boss mare.

  2. Generally, the horse I get in the arena is a lazy one – a polite hunter trot, maybe a Western jog. I think the explosiveness at the beginning was a combination of three things: we don't usually ride in the arena by ourselves, she does not believe in working before breakfast and really wasn't even halfway done (unfortunate circumstances, nothing I could have done differently there), and she probably needed a good run first. In hindsight, I should have taken her over to the round pen and made her canter for ten minutes and THEN brought her back.. live and learn. That feeling that she wants to explode and bolt in the arena hasn't come up for over a year now, I think! So it caught me really off guard and I didn't deal with it the way I should have.

    Usual arena work has her well-behaved if lazy and spooky. I don't trust her in the arena the way I do on the trail. In the arena, she can spook and bolt off any direction if the deer appear out of the woods, the water pump kicks on and it's extra loud, whatever, I don't think she WILL but I know she MIGHT. On the trail, I know she'll go in a predictable direction: where-ever the trail goes, the pony goes. We skip the scary spots in the arena when riding by ourselves because I know they're mostly my problem, not hers, and I don't need to make it hers too.

    For the first nine months or so, I rode her almost exclusively in the arena. Fetti's a pretty well-trained horse, just opinionated and forwards. We've had good arena lessons even in the past year or two. I personally don't tend to have the focus to do lots of circles, so it feels both more fun and more productive to work on some of the stuff on trails.. leg yield, half halts, etc etc.

    I'm hoping that gives a little bit more context/makes a bit more sense?