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Monday, 11 November 2019

3 Reasons why Riding In The Arena Is Bad For Your Horse

While training your horse, it is very easy to get caught up in the cycle of wanting more.  This causes us to constantly be riding in the same place.  Or maybe you just hide from people watching you like me.... social anxiety problems 😂.  

Whatever the reason, riding in the arena every single time is extremely bad from your horse.  

1.  Restricting De-sensitising

When you ride in the same place each day your horse comes too comfortable in his surroundings.  He gets accustomed to the 'scary' areas and no longer finds things interesting.   This means if you do ride in a different place, your horse will most likely become spooky and won't listen to you as everything becomes fascinating.  

I know this first hand.  I am a wimp when it comes to people watching me ride (just your typical socially anxious person over here worrying about people judging me 😂).  So, I would hide in the indoor school each time I rode Shandy.  The problem was, there was nothing in there to take his attention away.  This was good at the time.  Until I started riding in the outdoor school.  He wouldn't listen to me at all AND would spook at everything.  

Obviously, this isn't ideal for showing.  To fix this, try to ride in a different place each day.  I alternate my rides between the indoor school, the outdoor school and hacking on different trails.  I also school in random turn out fields (depending on the weather) to really mix it up.  This means I do not ride in the same area more than once a week.  I not only find that it keeps things exciting for the horse but my horses have become less spooky and listen to me more.  

A Light bay horse Cantering around a Show Jumping Arena With a female ride Wearing a bright red show jacket

2.  Strengthen Legs & Hooves

When a horse is ridden on the same good quality surface every day, the legs and hooves become 'weak'.  Not weak in general but they will become easier to injure when you change the surface.  This is because there is no resilience built up.  A lady that I know usually rides in the same school every day recently went on a 10-mile hack.  This ended up in a hock injury due to the horse walking up a steep hill.  

By slowly building up the rides on different surfaces such as roads, wet/dry grass and steep hills, you can strengthen your horse's legs and hooves.  This helps avoid injuries both while riding and day to day horsey behaviour.  

I always start by using my cool down to ride in different places to build up slowly.  

A dun horse working long and low in an outdoor riding school

3.  Improve Training Progress

When we ride in a school with straight walls each day, our horse can depend on the wall to hold him.  While riding outside, we can really see how strong our horse is and hold he can really hold himself.  
This happens because we are constantly asking our horse's to move away from our inside leg to keep him on the track.  This can cause him to 'lean' against the wall.  

I find that riding up and down steep hills improve balance immensely.  

A bay horse cantering around a show jumping course at a competition

So, what do you need to do?  I'd start by riding out of the school a couple times a week.  This will improve your horse's overall training and health.  

Where is your favourite place to ride?  And how many times a week do you ride outside of your school?  I'd love to know your riding schedule and any tips you have 😊


I am not a horse trainer or any other equestrian professional.  I only give advice on horsey topics that I have experience as a horse owner in.  Please don't follow my advice without contacting a relevant equestrian professional.  


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