Arena work

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Arena work

This is a discussion on Arena work within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Arena work for horses
  • Areans work for horses

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    03-06-2010, 06:04 PM
Arena work

I board my horse at a friend's house which isn't the greatest place, but its all my parents will pay for. We have three pastures and a round pen and I usually ride in the round pen or third pasture which has no other horse in there and basicly 1/8 of a mile trail ride and all one big loop. There was a point where we had a about 200 x 150 mowed over area that was safe to lope and ect, but winter came and now is all mud. So I have a round pen.

My horse hasn't been at a legitament arena since last summer so when we went over a barn that had an indoor arena, I wasn't very suprised when she freaked. I've gone over there 5 times now in the last two weeks and she is a tense mess and totally not herself. I can bearly keep her down in a trot and makes me a tense mess as well. When we get in the round pen, she's okay, but is totally bored.
When we get down a long strech in the arena she wants to go faster and faster, the lope is pretty unbearable and I cannot slow her at all.

I've tried trotting and just trotting and stopping and backing when she goes off like a freight train, but she just becomes more tense. Any suggestions would be highly welcomed.
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    03-06-2010, 08:00 PM
Take her to the indoor arena more often, and instead of trotting, walk. That's where you will be most comfortable while she is getting comfortable. When she is finally at ease walking, then start trotting.
    03-06-2010, 09:10 PM
Keep going, every day if you can. I went through the EXACT same thing with my horse. I cut the arena in half using ground poles, kept bumping her nose to keep her focus on me, and dug my heels in hard. You can also try to avoid keeping your horse in a straight form, if you can keep some sort of bend in her then she physically can't bullet off where-ever she likes. Try getting her to yield her hindquarters and face you to break off the madness, then send her off again. It took about 2-3 weeks, but it taught me to ground myself, and now that mare isn't dragging me anywhere. Don't let her use everything she has to intimidate you! She'll mellow out, now it can be pouring rain or windy and my mare is just fine with the surroundings.
    03-06-2010, 11:24 PM
Just an idea (never had this problem but this is how I would handle it) when no one is riding just turn her out in the arena she is uncomfortable in for a couple of hours to let her get used to it. Above suggestions are great too. :)
Keep us posted on how she does!
    03-07-2010, 12:34 AM
If you can't walk your horse without her trying to speed up, you shouldn't be moving at a faster gait at all. I wouldn't be trotting until she is completely comfortable walking, and cantering until she is completely comfortable trotting. I don't know why people always think they MUST practice w/t/c all the time, I've spent SO much time just walking my mare (she used to be very hot) and now we're just trotting, should be ready to canter soon I've noticed it ALOT, though. People are in such a rush to do everything but really they need to sloooow down!

Originally Posted by Dani9192    
just an idea (never had this problem but this is how I would handle it) when no one is riding just turn her out in the arena she is uncomfortable in for a couple of hours to let her get used to it. Above suggestions are great too. :)
Keep us posted on how she does!
This is a GREAT idea, I highly recommend doing this. I wouldn't expect that it would solve your problem, but it might make dealing with it alot easier!
    03-07-2010, 12:55 AM
I don't think letting her loose is a good idea, at least it certainly wouldn't have been for my horse. IMO, with my horse, she is very associative. The stall is for rest, the pasture for play, and the arena for work. I watch people let their horses "free lunge" in the arena to blow off steam, and then they wonder why their horse bucks when they decide its work time on the lunge. (it also makes horrible uneven spots in our indoor, grr.) I don't want her to do anything I didn't ask for in the training ring, and she's learned that if she does, it's not really worth it, because she has to answer to me now. A horse can blow off steam in the pasture. A horse can blow off steam if you put him in a turnout where he/she normally doesn't reside. A horse cannot just tire himself out in an area where you want him to be focused on you and your agenda. I certainly wouldn't hold it against Frida if she looked at me sideways if I decided today would be a great day to train in her turnout field. I think, instead, you should begin your session with about 15-20 minutes of solid groundwork. I'm just throwing it out there, but here is what I do on an average day.

Groundwork: Walk her in hand, get her to halt, trot in hand. Get her to back up, yield her hindquarters, forehand, move her laterally. (You'll find that with all these small little requests she will be forced to pay you mind.) Desensitize her to the whip and whip cracking, get her to stand in the middle of the arena and walk a big circle around her without her moving, do carrot stretches and a series of serpentines. Just get her feet moving and keep her from being bored or distracted.

After you accomplish that and she's got her ear on you, you should be able to move to lungeing that is a bit more relaxed. Its easy to say just walk your horse, but not if she's got 100 other things to focus on and you are not one of them. He/She will just bee-line like a track horse and take off running after a build-up, and you've got to break up that straightness or else you'll be hanging on for a ride!

Do you have a subscription to I could PM you my account info. They have an amazing video for subscribers that talks about this "zone out, speed up or slow down" problem on the lunge.
    03-07-2010, 01:51 AM
If I didn't work my horses in their paddock I couldn't ride - We have to go through it to get to most of the trails and it has the only flat spot to do any flatwork! Trust me, they don't mind, and they don't muck up just because it's their pasture.
    03-07-2010, 02:02 AM
Well, if horses acted up more wherever they are turned out then I guess I've been doing it all wrong... my mares are kept in the outdoor arena due to one not allowed on grass, I can work them in THAT arena all I want, with their hay where it would usually be on one end of the arena and even grain in their buckets. If what you said is TRUE, I would be totally screwed because my horses are stalled 24/7 and 98% of the time my only option is to turn them out in the indoor arena where I also work them. Never had a problem! But I guess it all depends on the individual horse...

If someone else can't get their horse to focus (regardless of if it's their pasture/turnout/whathaveyou) I'd say they need some serious work on getting their horse to respect them.
    03-07-2010, 12:22 PM
That is what worked for me. I'm all for treating horses like individuals, and I try not to generalize, and I definitely don't say my way is absolute. It just sounds like she's going through a rough patch. When I am experiencing the same thing with my very green horse, I try to make things as black and white as I possibly can for her. I understand what you are saying, you definitely have to make the best out of what you have to work with. If you had adequate turnout, stall, indoor and outdoor arenas, would you do things a little differently?

As far as gaining focus, I think it is what the OP is trying to do. Everyone has to go through that, and it's not like its a problem you solve and never encounter again. My approach is to try and remove distractions completely, then add them again slowly as she becomes more ready to handle them.

My horse is on turnout 8 hours of the day in field. She gets turned out at the same time, turned in at the same time, fed on time, and worked 5 days a week at the same time. The routine works for us, but it may not for everyone! :)

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