How to prevent an arena sour horse if I'm only comfortable in the arena - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 82 Old 03-25-2016, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
I have a horse that I bought at 18 months old, by the time he was 5 he was a trail pro, darn near fearless and would go anywhere he was asked to. Anyway, he went into an arena for the first time since I bought him at that point. Every corner had a bear in it and fire breathing dragons where trying to rip the roof off to get into the arena for a snack. Talk about spooky! His fear of the arena completely took me by surprise. He now gets ridden quite a bit in an arena but it took him a while to learn that bears really are not hiding in the corners sharpening their claws for some horse steak.

What you might be riding is a horse more used to riding out in the open than an arena. Another point to consider is how long has the horse been at that stable? It takes horses up to a year (some longer) to fully adjust to a new environment after being moved. More so for horses that have only been moved a once or twice in their life.

All interesting points, this is a mare who had been in her old home for a number of years, and for the last two had been a total pasture puff, so coming to a new place was a shock for her. Her natural tendency is very head up and alert, different to Gibbs for sure. We did haul her out to a show last weekend and she was like this

Dress rehearsal (1).jpg

Most of the time, LOL. head up, very alert, but she never 'did' anything, she was a handful in the arena, but again never really put a foot wrong, just had to ride her through it.

She would probably be fine out, but then we are not talking about a horse issue, we are talking about a rider issue, my confidence is still rebuilding, and as long as I have an enclosed area to work in I am kind of OK, with minor exceptions, but just the thought of 'outside' just puts me into a state of panic, that means that in practice it can't happen......at least not now. There is ZERO point in pushing a person to the point that they shut down and become ineffective, every point in pushing them to take the next baby step toward a bigger goal.

I was going to apologize for derailing the thread, but I think this is a great subject......I was mocked, a lot, by a certain poster on another board for "only being and arena rider" and that is plain wrong, it is my choice to ride in an arena, my choice to take lessons, compete, get in front of a judge and get feed back. My horse, my time, my money MY CHOICE. I never, ever, ever look down on those who choose not to compete, I totally hate it when people describe themselves as "just a trail rider" because to me being able to ride out and about is not a "just"

It is kind of sad though when a certain type of trail rider, thinking back to my unpleasant stalker, derides any sort of arena work, thinks that their own way of riding is everything, is not open to learning or developing their skills or understanding in anyway, especially when they believed some very scary things!

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post #32 of 82 Old 03-25-2016, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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Golden Horse, I don't think staying in the arena is a "just". I really have no desire to ride out & do trails either. I have been there, done that. I did tons of trail rides as a kid. I find them relaxing for about 10 minutes and then they're boring to me. Right now, working in the arena is what I love to do. I find it so challenging. I have much, much room to grow as a hunt seat rider. Some day I may try jumping. The only reason I'd ever consider riding a trail or out of the arena would be for my horse's benefit, but based on this thread, I'm not sure that's necessary.
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post #33 of 82 Old 03-25-2016, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Folly View Post
I can't believe I missed this thread until now...
I'm sitting here with butterflies in my stomach - I've hired the trainer at our barn to ride with me into the neighbor's pasture ... I'm heading that way in about 2 hours.

Don't want to repeat what some of you know... but I'm 50+, just started riding a few years ago casually, and after selling one wrong horse, I bought what is seeming to be my perfect horse (got her about 2 months ago). She's 12 and has been on hundreds of miles of trails from casual to rigorous... but this will be my first time on her outside of the arenas (indoor and outdoor). I'm very nervous for some weird reason (I've ridden my friend's horse in her back pastures numerous times so I know I can do it). I don't think I'm so fearful of being hurt. I'm really more afraid of failing... finding out that she's barn sour or something and I can't handle it (that was the big issue with my previous horse, but this one is far better trained and has had much more experience - and there's no reason to expect a problem). She honestly seems bored in the indoor arena, but compliant. In the outdoor arena with other horses around, she seems much happier - no problem keeping her on task, but she seemed more engaged. I know I'm using human emotions, but I think everyone here knows what I mean. I just keep sitting here envisioning everything that could go wrong....

Anyway, I'm taking baby steps - and I decided a few days ago to schedule this as sort of a kindergarten 'graduation'. I think I'm ready. Hoping for an uneventful ride! Anyway, sorry to jump in - but riding off is very intimidating! I get it.
Let us know how it goes! :)
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post #34 of 82 Old 03-25-2016, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Golden Horse View Post
I was going to apologize for derailing the thread, but I think this is a great subject......I was mocked, a lot, by a certain poster on another board for "only being and arena rider" and that is plain wrong, it is my choice to ride in an arena, my choice to take lessons, compete, get in front of a judge and get feed back. My horse, my time, my money MY CHOICE. I never, ever, ever look down on those who choose not to compete, I totally hate it when people describe themselves as "just a trail rider" because to me being able to ride out and about is not a "just"
Sorry to further derail, but this is so crazy to hear. Why anyone would ever care how another rider rides is beyond me! But to openly harass someone just makes no sense!

I think I am guilty of saying "just hacking out" because it's probably a reflexive self-deprecating attempt to own up to having no show experience. In my path through the horse world, I always felt "lesser" for not showing. I certainly don't care about that now, but at various points in my riding, I cared more.
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post #35 of 82 Old 03-25-2016, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Jan1975 View Post
I did tons of trail rides as a kid. I find them relaxing for about 10 minutes and then they're boring to me. Right now, working in the arena is what I love to do. I find it so challenging. .
I am SO glad someone else feels that way! I am not really nervous out on trails, but I find them a bit boring. I LOVE hiking, but when I am hiking I am constantly stopping and ID'ing plants and fungi and bugs. Kind of hard to do from horseback. I like trail riding with friends and chatting and I love getting to some vistas, but I find myself getting bored and getting lost in my own mind too much. I also find arena work to be engaging and challenging. Even simple exercises like serpentine can be challenging when you start trying to improve every part of it.
Different strokes for different folks!
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post #36 of 82 Old 03-25-2016, 03:56 PM
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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
I'd agree that it's a more well rounded horse that is ridden both in and out of the arena. (I'm a fair weather trail rider, so I tend to ride inside most of the year and only hit the trails during our "dry season" ) But it's not necessarily a bad thing that a horse feel more secure being ridden in an arena if that's the only place you plan to ride him.

The question of stalling is another topic completely. Most horses are only ridden for an hour or two a few times a week, whereas they have to deal with their living arrangements the rest of the time. I would think most horses would be much happier living on pasture and being ridden only in an arena than living in a stall and only being ridden outside.
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post #37 of 82 Old 03-25-2016, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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I am SO glad someone else feels that way! I am not really nervous out on trails, but I find them a bit boring. I LOVE hiking, but when I am hiking I am constantly stopping and ID'ing plants and fungi and bugs. Kind of hard to do from horseback. I like trail riding with friends and chatting and I love getting to some vistas, but I find myself getting bored and getting lost in my own mind too much. I also find arena work to be engaging and challenging. Even simple exercises like serpentine can be challenging when you start trying to improve every part of it.
Different strokes for different folks!
Yes! I LOVE trail running. After riding horses, it is probably my favorite thing to do. I actually run on horse trails. After experiencing the trails @ a run, it's really hard to think of riding at horse pace. I really just do not have time to enjoy nature that slowly.
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post #38 of 82 Old 03-25-2016, 04:10 PM
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We have to trailer to ride on anything but an arena or roads and because trailering by itself takes a big chunk out of our available time - DH has a very full time job - we do tend to do more arena work now than we've ever done before
The only thing you can do it be as creative as possible and build obstacle courses and lay out poles and cones to challenge the horse's mind more than just going round in circles
I'm sure that as you progress and get more confidence in your horse you will feel braver about heading out of the arena but until then I really wouldn't worry about it and I certainly wouldn't suggest you try to push yourself if you are nervous because your horse is just going to pick up on that
I've had so many near misses on the roads over the past 20 years with too many drivers seeming oblivious of how to behave when passing horses I have become really worried about riding in traffic even on my horses that I trust, I don't enjoy it at all now so avoid it when I can
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post #39 of 82 Old 03-25-2016, 04:19 PM
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I certainly agree that many horses become arena sour, because they are always worked hard there.
Thus, I do vary my routines, and have been known to school horses riding out. In fact, teaching good straight line flying lead changes, and great transitions, are better taught, just riding down the road. There is no hurry, with a wall coming up, and you can just position a young horse, give him time for that flying change
Perhaps, arena sour and just 'arena broke', should be two separate or sub topics
Yes, some horses never get really arena sour, never pushed to any great performance level, but they also don't get truly 'broke', far as that horse being calm, ridden outside of that comfort zone of the arena
That horse really gets as much security from those familiar walls, as from his rider, and often more. Some people might be satisfied with that, but I'm one that wants a horse that does both
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post #40 of 82 Old 03-25-2016, 04:49 PM
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I had 2 very nervous boarders who were arena riders only, both on ex-show Saddlebreds.
One day I get the great idea to ride outside on the lanes around the hay fields. I assured them we would only walk & they could follow my steady horse. They both agreed to try, though I could tell they weren't thrilled.
We were reaching the end of the indoor arena when a stack of barn siding tin got caught in some wind, lifted slowly then came flying at us like giant ninga blades! My horse in front leaped forward, the next one behind bolted into the field & the last one ran sideways faster than I would have thought a horse could move like that.
No one was hurt & all stayed on but I could see the terror on their faces (the people). We regrouped & I could tell they had had enough, so me, being ever understanding said, "Well, if you can stay on through that the rest of this ride will be a piece of cake." And it was.
I think they only continued because I did & they were too afraid to go back alone. We still laugh about that while admitting it could have gone terribly wrong.
I think most people ride out the moment better than the anticipated moment.
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