How to prevent an arena sour horse if I'm only comfortable in the arena - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 82 Old 03-23-2016, 09:15 PM
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I would work him in the arena, and use the mosey around the barn for his relax reward. For about the first 10 times, be sure he is worked really well in the arena, so that his mind is a little tired. Sing him a song as you go out to keep your breathing even.
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post #12 of 82 Old 03-23-2016, 09:19 PM
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Why not ride the horse out yourself? It will improve your bond, and you both will enjoy it!


Because it is beyond my capabilities right now, I have ridden outside the relative safety of an arena precisely once since my accident. There is currently ZERO chance of me riding Fergie out in the big wide world.

I AM working towards riding Gibbs out this spring, but that will be huge for me.

Those who say "I only trail ride" do not realize how paralyzing, awful fear can keep you from doing something so simple.

So no not happening, that is how it is
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post #13 of 82 Old 03-23-2016, 09:36 PM
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I agree with the suggestion to start with walks around the property.

A couple of years ago, I reached a point where I was getting arena sour and I think that was being telegraphed to my horse who started to be sour towards work. But I really wasn't confident enough to ride out alone.

The place where I board isn't huge, about 19 acres total. It felt like a huge accomplishment to be able to ride around the turnout paddocks and in one of the turnout fields when there were no horses there. Eventually that got boring too, so one day I got the idea in my head that just walking across the street to the neighbor's property wasn't all that far away, so why not? And from there, I crept a little farther away every day, until we were trail riding.

That was the genesis for my journal, the first few pages tell the story of our baby steps towards confidence.

It also helped to ride around with other people, even if it was just riding around the barn's property.
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post #14 of 82 Old 03-23-2016, 09:38 PM
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Not sure if this helps at all, but could you get him used to the outdoor arena by doing other things than riding outside? Maybe start by lunging him or doing groundwork?

Harley is nervous outside too since we've been riding inside all winter. Now he's developed a cough that - I believe - is caused by the indoor arena being so dusty. So he needs to get used to being ridden outside in a hurry. However, the outdoor arena isn't ready yet and the footing on trails is still icy in spots. However, I want him to get used to being outside his comfort zone so with the BO's permission, I started grooming him outdoors. I just take two lead ropes to create cross-ties between two trees and groom him, tack him up, etc. I put him in different spots too. The first time he was stressed and pawed a lot, but after a few times, he just relaxes just like he would in the barn. I think we inadvertently create bad habits by always doing things the same way. While horses love routine, in some cases, they can get too comfortable doing things.

As for leading him outside, you could certainly do that if you're sure he's safe and will not spook. Trying to hold onto the lead of a spooking horse could be scary. But you can start doing little things and just walking around, tying him, etc. It's a useful skill anyway. I've taken Harley outside his paddock, tied him to a tree and gone back to shut the gate that shuts the other horses out of the indoor arena. He's learned to just be still and wait.
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post #15 of 82 Old 03-23-2016, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by egrogan View Post
I agree with the suggestion to start with walks around the property.

A couple of years ago, I reached a point where I was getting arena sour and I think that was being telegraphed to my horse who started to be sour towards work. But I really wasn't confident enough to ride out alone.

The place where I board isn't huge, about 19 acres total. It felt like a huge accomplishment to be able to ride around the turnout paddocks and in one of the turnout fields when there were no horses there. Eventually that got boring too, so one day I got the idea in my head that just walking across the street to the neighbor's property wasn't all that far away, so why not? And from there, I crept a little farther away every day, until we were trail riding.

That was the genesis for my journal, the first few pages tell the story of our baby steps towards confidence.

It also helped to ride around with other people, even if it was just riding around the barn's property.
This is exactly what I wanted to suggest. If you don't feel confident riding out by yourself, there may be someone who will join you.

Otherwise some obstacles to work on in the arena keep things fresh. I know horses that have only been arena ridden for years and they are not arena-sour at all; but their owner makes sure that the training is very varied...
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post #16 of 82 Old 03-23-2016, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all for the advice! We are always doing different things in the arena. Different trot pole placement, cones, etc. He seems perfectly happy right now. I'm just thinking about down the road.
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post #17 of 82 Old 03-24-2016, 12:26 AM
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TBH, I think it's generally the rider who gets bored of riding in the arena more than the horse. I know lots of people who almost never ride outside and their horses don't get arena sour. Just because you're always in the arena doesn't mean it has to be repetitive, either. There are tons of things to work on that can provide you and your horse with a change of pace.

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post #18 of 82 Old 03-24-2016, 01:19 AM
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Many top dressage riders/trainers actually do trail ride all of their horses (yes, even the Grand Prix horses). Uta Graf and Charlotte Dujardin to name a few. Often they trail ride these horses at least three times a week. The claim is that it helps keep the horse's mind fresh and relaxed, and in addition the various ground surfaces and terrain levels help to condition a horse in ways that would be impossible with flatwork in the arena.

I think a smart horse can get tired of the same thing over and over. But I do think a lot of it has more to do with the enthusiasm and the quality of the rider, because I really believe horses are that in tune with us that we can change their whole demeanor. I know this to be true, as I have taken several horses out by myself, and often their nervousness transmits to me and I feel myself tighten up, or vice versa. Deep breathing has helped me tremendously when this happens, and as I relax I can feel the horse relax beneath me. My mother likes to sing when she gets nervous and it works for her.

IMO there really are no cons to riding out. It is probably one of the best things you can do for your horse, and yourself. Especially if you can work up to riding alone, as this is a great confidence builder. Just be sure that someone knows you are going out and an estimated time that you will be back. Always be safe!
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post #19 of 82 Old 03-24-2016, 02:16 AM
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Because it is beyond my capabilities right now, I have ridden outside the relative safety of an arena precisely once since my accident. There is currently ZERO chance of me riding Fergie out in the big wide world.

I AM working towards riding Gibbs out this spring, but that will be huge for me.

Those who say "I only trail ride" do not realize how paralyzing, awful fear can keep you from doing something so simple.

So no not happening, that is how it is
Sorry, never realized you had a wreak
Of, course, do what is in your comfort zone, and hope you find a reliable person to ride your horse out for you.
Has she been ridden out before ?
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post #20 of 82 Old 03-24-2016, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by verona1016 View Post
TBH, I think it's generally the rider who gets bored of riding in the arena more than the horse. I know lots of people who almost never ride outside and their horses don't get arena sour. Just because you're always in the arena doesn't mean it has to be repetitive, either. There are tons of things to work on that can provide you and your horse with a change of pace.
Hmm, maybe.
At the same time, I have seen some of those horses, not even being able to be ridden form the barn, at a show facility, to the arena!
Yes, there are many things you can work at in an arena, as I have done many events, from rail classes, trail, reining, western riding , HUS, cattle penning, working cowhorse, games, but you still don't get a really broke horse, as those horses get their security form those walls, and not just from the rider.
Many also claim that their horse is just fine, stalled most of the time. Horses are, after all, creatures of habit
Bottom line, most horses are way better arena and show horses, if they are also ridden out
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