View Full Version : Would you rather train in a field or a ring?

Jan. 4, 2010, 02:01 PM
I am debating building an arena soon.. I know eventually I will need one, but I am wondering if I am better off training in a field. I feel like because my eventer grew up only being ridden in a field she is braver and has a better sense of how to handle riding on uneven terrian, but then I have crazy mare who I think would be better off being ridden in an arena for the time being because she is.. crazy and I dont feel like we ever accomplish much in the field and I have to take her across the road to the indoor often!
Just wondering what everyones thoughts are.

Jan. 4, 2010, 02:35 PM
It sounds like you would benefit from having both a ring and a field. To be successful your horses should be confident in both the field and the ring, and the only way to really be able to work on that confidence is to be able to work in both.

Jan. 4, 2010, 03:00 PM
I Prefer using a field - sometimes the confines of an arena can become a crutch - I've had horses have a very hard time maintaining straightness without a wall to "lean" against.

If you need to practice in a smaller space, you can always make a smaller "arena" in your field.

But that's just my opinion :)

Jan. 4, 2010, 03:32 PM
Why not have both! If you are able to have both an arena and a field to train in, then I would add an arena.

Jan. 4, 2010, 03:46 PM
Another vote for both if possible. At my barn we have only an indoor and a grass field. There is a significant portion of the spring and fall where the temperatures are nice enough that I REALLY want to be outside, but the footing in the field prohibits this. I really, really wish we had an outdoor at those times...

Jan. 4, 2010, 04:00 PM
Both if possible!

When I started back as a re-rider I had a trainer who taught in a field because it made for braver students who could ride over uneven ground.

There's a lot less opportunity for that here, and I feel I'm a poorer and more cowardly rider for it.

Jan. 4, 2010, 04:08 PM
Ideally, both. I ride in two big fields, and that's great for encouraging forward and making use of the slight dips and slope to the land. But when I find myself forced to compete within a 20x40 meter rectangle and haven't practiced in one, it is, shall we say, detrimental to our dressage scores. :lol:

Jan. 4, 2010, 04:17 PM
Both is best. I have a large, flat arena with stonedust that is great for dressage work and for riding when the weather is not the greatest. It drains much quicker than the field next to it and my mare is not slipping in mud.

While a horse should be able to do dressage in a field, it is easier to introduce new concepts or work on a particular movement without the worry of the horse rebalancing to go up or down the hills.

Grass can also be slippery in the early morning or after a rain, where arena with proper footing would not. While the horse should learn to run around on grass, when they are jumping a new height, doing grid work that can be challenging or learning something new in their flatwork, extra slipping can hurt their confidence.

Carol Ames
Jan. 4, 2010, 04:43 PM
be better off being Exactly right! I did it for 14:yes: years; however, if you will be starting young horses, or having customers tyrig horses;); they will be much more confident in a ring

Jan. 4, 2010, 04:47 PM
Ring....but if you have a field you can always ride in there. But if you get a ring you will happy w/ it!!!

Jan. 4, 2010, 05:19 PM
Unless you live someplace like Aiken or FL, where the footing in the fields are almost always good, rain or shine, I like to have the benefit of both worlds. There are just times where a field isn't going to have good enough footing to get anything meaningful done (like right now for us). Be it ice covered, slick as snot and muddy, or hard as concrete. By having a ring you have basically consistent footing all year round, which means the day the field is too muddy but you have an event in a week, you can still get a ride in.

Jan. 4, 2010, 10:27 PM
both! I almost always ride in a large field, but an arena is REALLY helpful for practicing dressage! Especially for us geometrically challenged.

Jan. 5, 2010, 08:42 AM
I rode in a field for years - except when it was mud season, or had just rained, was hard and slick in the summer droughts, or was frozen. When I put in the ring (same location, so surrounded by field) I could ride in the rain, within 2 days of the snow melting in the spring (not wait weeks for the mud to subside) during the summer. Dramatically increased my days where I could train especially in the spring. I still use the field but the ring is primarily where I ride. Also, the footing in the ring is more easily repaired (you drag it) than if you mess up the field.

You can train with only a field, but it's easier in a ring.

Jan. 5, 2010, 09:43 AM
In my current situation I would take a field over the ring we have any day! I love having a ring, but current barn owner made her ring by dumping sand over dirt that hold water for quite awhile (as she lives on the river)... needless to say when it rains.. it just becomes a total mud pit. And is putting a dressage ring in the exact same way... in the last grass riding space.
I assume you're going to be building your ring correctly... in which case it's always nice to have an actual ring to practice in. I grew up with a ring, but it was unfenced.. which I now prefer to be honest. It had nice even footing, but wasn't a perfect shape and had no fence so it also had that "field" feel.

Jan. 5, 2010, 09:46 AM
Both, if you can. If I had to choose, I'd pick ring, mostly because I have a grass field that I presently use as a ring and it has crappy drainage, and if it gets torn up it stays that way for a long time. The footing in there isn't nearly as consistent - can't ride when it's wet, etc.

Jan. 5, 2010, 09:54 AM
Whenever possible, I school out in the fields. I find that it really pushes me to ride accurately and think about my riding in terms of "every step" and not the "long side/short side/long side/short side" zone I can get into while riding in a ring. It also gives my mare the kind of mental stimulation that keeps her fresh; the field we usually choose to school in is the highest point on the property so we see the horses in other fields, cars going by on the road, etc.

However, the ring has its benefits as well and I wouldn't really want to do without one.

I say you should build both :)

Lori T
Jan. 5, 2010, 10:43 AM

Jan. 5, 2010, 11:23 AM
I grew up just riding in a field. I also was in a situation where I just had a ring for a bit too.

A ring is "nice to have" but a field is a must. My current (and ideal) situation has both. I do my dressage work in a ring but the rest of the riding is in the field.

Jan. 5, 2010, 11:24 AM
If you have to choose one, i'd choose field. You can get landscape timbers and create a reg sized arena in the flattest part of your field. That way you can still work within the confines of an "arena" but still get the gymnastic benefit of the slightly uneven terrain.

Jan. 5, 2010, 11:32 AM
It's at times like this that I really wish I had an all weather footing ring. The ground is frozen solid with waves of mud tundra and icy snow and I have been unable to ride for weeks because the footing is either frozen or muddy and slick. :sigh:

My vote: small ring within the field.

Jan. 5, 2010, 11:45 AM
We actually almost always have some sort of dressage ring set up in the grass somewhere. Easy to do....we use landscape timbers and cement blocks.

The hottest set up we ever had was an indoor and a BIG field with a good roll to it. We "fenced" off the field where we set up our jumps to keep the turnout herd from eating them (always fun when they'd manage to bust in, but they were a really bad, unruly bunch and could and did often break into the indoor, too). It was still a HUGE area and we often could have an entire course set up along with a good sized grid. We even had a great xc type fence set up in the fence line so we could jump out and do our gallops in the big field. This set up was GREAT because we rode almost all the time out in the field on the grass, but not only did we have consistent footing to come up to if the weather had been bad, we also had SHELTER and could ride no matter what.

Not practical for most people, but it was a fabulous set up.

Jan. 5, 2010, 12:55 PM
Fields are great for balance (horse and rider), controlling pace with your posting and body, and for the horse getting to know where his feet are.

However, I am at a place without an outdoor ring. I went to a jumping clinic after a rain and my horse was very distracted with the puddles splashing him. Not long ago we were at a place with an outdoor ring, and he was fine with the puddles. I guess you take that sensation away for a little while and they forget how harmless it is.

Jan. 5, 2010, 03:32 PM
I'm finding that with my young one, we are having a hard time riding straight on long sides of the dressage arena in tests because I do most of my training in the field. BOTH! It is helpful to at least have a fence line to ride along to practice straightness and to have a fixed point to leg yeild to. It is helpful to at least have some cones or cinder blocks outlining a small dressage arena so you can practice your geometry.