PDA

View Full Version : How often do you ride outside of the arena?



KPF
Jun. 11, 2011, 02:32 PM
I'm curious. I personally HATE leaving the arena since I had a bad fall/injury while hacking out several years ago. I used to ride out a lot but I'm older and don't want to fall on that hard ground again. I truly have no desire to leave the ring but will my new horse get ring sour if I don't? I'm wondering if I need to push myself out of my comfort zone and/or get someone else to hack him out occasionally, or if it's not that big of a deal to ride exclusively in the ring. I ride 3-5 times a week and my horses are at home.

(oh, and I tried to post a poll but couldn't figure out how, sorry!)

EquestrianRunner
Jun. 11, 2011, 02:37 PM
I am weird and HATE riding in the ring.... I would much rather ride in a field and do my dressage than do it in an arena.

I love dressage, and when I am at shows I don't mind riding in the arena but unless I am practicing a specific movement I will ride outside.

quietann
Jun. 11, 2011, 02:38 PM
I think it really depends on the horse. Have certainly met some who would gladly never set foot outside "footing", and some who go stark raving mad during the winter when their exercise is confined to an indoor hall. Mine tends toward the latter, without the "mad" piece. She is happier and more interested out of the arena (inside or outside) so I make that at least a part of our ride whenever I can, currently about 3 out of 5 rides.

What I hate to see are horses ridden *only* in an indoor, never exposed to the great outside... and sometimes with riders who wonder why they can't handle shows etc.

Petstorejunkie
Jun. 11, 2011, 02:49 PM
I work in the arena for about 45-60 minutes every ride and spend another 15-45 minutes outside the arena as well.

carolprudm
Jun. 11, 2011, 03:21 PM
I'm curious. I personally HATE leaving the arena since I had a bad fall/injury while hacking out several years ago. I used to ride out a lot but I'm older and don't want to fall on that hard ground again. I truly have no desire to leave the ring but will my new horse get ring sour if I don't? I'm wondering if I need to push myself out of my comfort zone and/or get someone else to hack him out occasionally, or if it's not that big of a deal to ride exclusively in the ring. I ride 3-5 times a week and my horses are at home.

(oh, and I tried to post a poll but couldn't figure out how, sorry!)

Glad to know I'm not the only one. I don't really like riding alone either

Wayside
Jun. 11, 2011, 03:31 PM
Right now my mare is still in tendon rehab mode - long straight lines on firm footing, so for the moment the answer is "always". The turf is firmer than the sand footing, mare is quiet out and about, and it's easier to make long straights and gradual turns out there.

Normally I probably ride about 50/50 in and out of the arena. I LOVE trail riding. I'm glad I don't have to choose between the two, but if I had to pick one, I'd give up dressage before I'd give up trail riding.

That being said, this is supposed to be FUN, and if you don't like trail riding, don't sweat it. Just find ways to get him exposure to new places and find ways to spice things up in the arena, and I doubt he'll suffer for it.

paulaedwina
Jun. 11, 2011, 03:46 PM
Not often enough. Just yesterday I was exercising an older mare and that consisted of alot of walking over terrain so we left the ring and rode the farm. It struck me that this should happen more often. I plan on using hacking out to relieve my horse's stress from training. I also want to cross train so I'll definitely be hacking out.

It's a logistics nightmare though. I don't have my own trailer, and where I ride, the fields we used to have access to are now farm land and residences. It's too bad really.

ETA - there's lots between the ring and hacking out. You can ride around the farm where you train.

Paula

joiedevie99
Jun. 11, 2011, 04:18 PM
I ride outside the ring twice a week usually- but whether or not its necessary really depends on the horse. Some will get sour within weeks, others are really fine.

baysngreys
Jun. 11, 2011, 04:26 PM
Pretty much every time I ride!
I can do all my flat work on the trail; leg yields, shoulder-in, lengthening, collecting, serpentines, etc. I do my conditioning and interval training around the lake.
If my horses can concentrate while deer are jumping thru the bushes, squirrels and birds are popping up, the dogs jumping into the lake as we ride around it - they sure as heck don't have a problem at a show!

creekridgefarm
Jun. 11, 2011, 04:41 PM
I think if the work is kept interesting and doesn't become a "drill" for the horse (you know, 5000 20m circles in an hour kind of thing), not many will get ring sour. Especially if they have adequate turnout. This is not saying there aren't some who adamantly despise being worked in an arena, but most don't mind an hour out of their day, whether it is 85 degrees, or 25 degrees.

That said, it's always a nice change to head out of the arena. But if you're not comfortable out of the arena, don't stress about leaving it. Chances are, your horse isn't going to mind.

luvmydutch
Jun. 11, 2011, 05:21 PM
I don't ride in our sand arena at all..i have some cones set up in the huge field behind our farm and we do our dressage schooling with the cones as focal points...then go hack around the field after or on the trails. I also make sure I let her loose in there to run around and eat grass before and after i ride. My horse is a happy girl and seems to enjoy our routine.
My horse is 3 years old so i keep our rides to 15-30 minutes 3-4 days a week (sometimes less)

lovey1121
Jun. 11, 2011, 07:25 PM
I'm w/quietann....depends on the horse. One of my guys was a DWB who had major outdoor issues (read eyes on stalks)...T/O had to be in a tiny paddock and fully monitored. Outdoor rings were even tough...showing tougher. Hacking out for us consisted of walks in a fenced pasture w/a very steady-Eddie type as a protector. Kinda funny-Steady ED was a miniature of my guy by 2 hands. My guy tried to hide behind him when he got sceered.

I also used to hack out alone (NO helmet-No cellphone...just plain dumb and lucky). He was sooo good, and being german, it helped his go button to get out of the ring. Since he was issue-less, we'd walk 15-20 min. around the property before ringwork, and at least a once a week trailride; more in hot weather and much more as he got old:sadsmile: Some of the best passage/piaffe we ever had was out in a field, watching the hunt blast by!:eek::eek:

Can you get someone to ride w/you on a steady Eddie? Even just hacking around your farm can be a pleasant diversion for both of you-maybe try the pasture thing, after a nice hard ring ride on a non-windy day. And dont forget helmet and cellphone:cool:

LShipley
Jun. 11, 2011, 07:58 PM
My mare was a trail horse in a former life, so going out on the trails really perks her up. I started going out on the trails by my barn with steady eddies as lead ponies and worked up to going out on our own. She does get spooky sometimes - but for her this means stopping and refusing to move forward. When we first started going out on our own, I would handwalk her when she was spooky, then hop on and ride her. It worked great and made us both feel more confident. And she has an enthusiasm for cantering on the trails that she just doesn't have in the ring. So I think I owe it to her to make sure she gets to go canter in the woods.

As others have said, you should do whatever you and your horse enjoy. Do you think working outside the arena will make your horse more enthusiastic? Maybe have someone take him on the trails to see, or you can have friends work with you. Or perhaps there is something else you can do to change things up? Some little jumps or barrels or even a bareback ride?

Honestly, though, I know some people who never ride outside the arena and their horses seem very happy.

KPF
Jun. 11, 2011, 09:57 PM
Thanks for the replies so far!

The horse is 10 so not young and his previous owner only rode in the ring for the last couple of years, but she only rode once or twice a week. He's not in "hard" work at all, I'm just getting back into dressage and we only work for about 30 minutes and most of it so far is w/t. I have done some trot poles and try not to do the same exact "routine" each time. And it is an outdoor arena, fwiw.

I know it'd be better to get out of the ring some but it seriously is almost panic attack inducing to think about it. I was hacking around my farm almost 4 years ago, walking and horse bolted out of nowhere and I fell off and broke my back, badly. Took me 8 months to get back in the saddle and then I only rode in an indoor for a year. The first time in an outdoor again I was terrified! :lol:

As a junior I grew up riding on the hunt trails and doing horse trials and with my last horse (before the crazy bolting one) I trail rode frequently and often was alone. So it's not like I'm missing out on the experience. Maybe a year from now when I know my new horse better I'll change my mind but for now I really want to stay in the ring. Oh, and where I live it's almost always windy so that doesn't make it a more attractive prospect!

SisterToSoreFoot
Jun. 11, 2011, 10:12 PM
My suggestion? Get someone else to hack him and test his reactions. If person B hacks him several times and he's a gentleman, it might make you feel more confident about taking him out yourself. If not, he still got a few nice hacks out of the deal.

I also suggest finding a real laid back horse/rider combo to go with you. You might find your fears melting away when you are both in the presence of a steady pair. You can simply dismount whenever you get nervous. You can then handwalk for a ways and remount when you feel ready. Give yourself the option to immediately dismount at any moment. No shame in it. Maybe you'll only ride twenty feet the first time and handwalk the rest of it. Maybe the time after that you'll get a bit further.

Take baby steps. I'm not really confident about hacking my youngster, but I try to walk out a bit father each time....a bit of work in the open field, a short walk down the lane. It might just be a 5 steps out of the ring on day and 6 the next. You went through a bad thing, but the fact that you're posting this question might mean that you are ready to take tiny steps towards hacking out again.

Bogie
Jun. 11, 2011, 11:05 PM
You could also try what I do when I first get a horse. To introduce them to trails I hand walk them. My last two horses came off the track and they hadn't seen much "nature" so they were quite looky at first.

Once I've introduced them to the idea, I go out with a steady Eddie type of friend. I also try to stay on wooded trails, leaving open fields for when they get more comfortable.

I also like the idea of having someone else take your horse out occasionally for a hack.

I've certainly known people who only ride in the ring but personally I enjoy hacking out with my horse, even if it's just a walk.

My horses have all loved hacking -- even the ones who were apprehensive at first.

It certainly sounds like you had a terrible experience and you should take it slowly. What's most important is that you enjoy your horse.

cuatx55
Jun. 11, 2011, 11:31 PM
Almost every ride if I can, even if its just a few laps around the pastures...course my horse was/is a very very experienced trail horse.....so that makes it a lot more fun.

I would hire a trainer to take your horse out for a month then you start to take it one step at a time. Its possible for most horses and riders to have a great time and be successful given enough traininhg, but like anything it takes time and the desire to do it.

It can be very scary outside, but many of my best memories are trail riding. Its so good for the horse to break up the routine and build muscles.

LarkspurCO
Jun. 12, 2011, 12:01 AM
I always go for a ride around the pasture before doing arena work, unless the pasture is too wet/snowy/icy, and then so is my arena, so I have to trailer to an indoor.

I take my horse out to open space once a week for several miles of trotting and galloping hills. He is 3/4 Thoroughbred and he loves to run. I give him about a mile of flat-out, full-power warp-speed gallop up a huge winding hill, where all I can do is hold onto mane and lean into the turns.

Life is too short not to have fun.

luchiamae
Jun. 12, 2011, 05:32 AM
I like to change things up really, my gelding gets so bored and frustrated if we stay on the arena, day in and day out.

I do something like this during the week (each dot point is a day):

- Sand Arena
- Field
- Grass Arena
- Lesson (on surface at instructors)
- Gallop Track (a trail ride with a good portion that is smooth, undulating and soft footed, sandy almost)
- Hill work (different trail)

If I'm having difficulty getting him to open up or get a reaction from my leg I will take him out of the environment...for example, today I was working on the Sand Arena and couldn't get him off my left leg. Trotted out the arena, did my leg yields up and down the driveway, back to the arena and the problem was sorted.

WILLOW&CAL
Jun. 12, 2011, 08:24 AM
I like to change things up really, my gelding gets so bored and frustrated if we stay on the arena, day in and day out.

I do something like this during the week (each dot point is a day):

- Sand Arena
- Field
- Grass Arena
- Lesson (on surface at instructors)
- Gallop Track (a trail ride with a good portion that is smooth, undulating and soft footed, sandy almost)
- Hill work (different trail)

If I'm having difficulty getting him to open up or get a reaction from my leg I will take him out of the environment...for example, today I was working on the Sand Arena and couldn't get him off my left leg. Trotted out the arena, did my leg yields up and down the driveway, back to the arena and the problem was sorted.

This. My large Friesian has the tendency to ignore my leg and go sub-power on some days. That is when I take him on the working track around the farm and walk down an incline or hill and slow, controlled trot up a few times. When he's totally asleep, we canter uphill on a long rein to stretch those big, cold muscles. I love hill-work. I couldn't do without it. I also do a lot of my canter work and beginning to teach changes on a soccer field nearby. The local kids usually cheer us on from the sidelines:D

MysticOakRanch
Jun. 12, 2011, 09:48 AM
Not all horses like being outside the arena either - it does depend on the horse. But they all need some variety in their routines, so at least once/week, you should do something different then dressage. That could be jumping (even if it is just little X bars), trail ride, ground poles, a good gallop, navigating an obstacle course, SOMETHING that perks the horse's interest and gives them a change in the daily routine.

I hack my guy out on our "Back 50" at least once/week - gives us a chance to trot up hills, walk through water, get a change of scenery. I totally hear you - if I didn't trust him, I wouldn't go out alone! But I would find something to spice up the weekly routine.

GreyStreet
Jun. 12, 2011, 11:29 AM
I like Bogie's suggestion - perhaps you can start to build in some hand walking outside when you've finished schooling for the day? Work your horse as you normally would, then dismount, loosen his girth a bit, and hand walk him to a set point outside the arena (could be up the driveway, to a certain pasture gate, etc.). Incorporate this into each ride until it's no big deal. When you feel more comfortable with the idea of riding this route while mounted, work as you normally would, then take a few steps outside the ring to the point you feel comfortable. It could be two steps, or it could be the whole route you've been hand walking. Eventually you will become comfortable riding out again, but there doesn't have to be a timeframe, so long as you take that first step.

In the meantime, I also concur with the suggestions of mixing up your routine in the arena. Mix in cones, poles, small jumps if you are comfortable - some days school hard, other days just walk and focus on the stretch. If you are comfortable having someone hack him out one day per week, that can also be beneficial.

Not surprisingly, really focusing on riding well in the arena will eventually carry over into your confidence on the trails. If you become very comfortable in all gaits and work on strengthening your core and seat, you will feel much more confident in your ability to handle the unknown. Because we all know even the best horses can throw a surprise our way ;) Strengthening your riding skills in the arena will add the extra tools you need to feel confident again.

Zu Zu
Jun. 12, 2011, 11:49 AM
ALWAYS OUTSIDE UNLESS THERE IS A WEATHER PROBLEM !

MY INDOOR IS LONELY ! :lol:

GraceLikeRain
Jun. 12, 2011, 04:25 PM
9 out of 10 rides I warm up and cool down outside of the ring. We have small inclines and a few stretches of nice fairly flat land around the pastures and in front of our property so I walk/trot around on a loose rein. I also hack out to some of the neighborhoods near by and go for a mini-adventure. I think it has done a lot of trust-building for my mare and I.

HappyHorse10
Jun. 13, 2011, 03:30 PM
I find that my horse and myself get bored being in the arena everyday. So I mix it up a little by doing some hill work in the field and also hacking around about 1-2 times per week.

Hidden
Jun. 13, 2011, 04:11 PM
I'm with you OP... I think I am much more concerned about trail riding than my horse is. And in the summer I ride early in the morning to be cooler with less bugs so there is never anyone around. My horse definately likes trails better than the ring and gets sour really fast. What I have been doing is what the others are suggesting. First, I rode in any open pasture, this made me feel a bit more comfortable somehow because there was a fence out there somewhere. Second I hand walked my boy a bit of the way on the trail around the pastures. Next I have been riding up and down the roads into the farm and around the barn and ring. Finally I have been trying to ride the trail around the pastures... a little more (or less - depending on how we feel that day) every time. My problem right now is Ticks!! The last two round the pasture rides I have come home with a rider myself. EEWWWW! I think what happens is that the pastures are pretty free of trees, but there are lots of trees around the edges.. and of course the trail trails go thru the woods. The tick population is huge this summer and I just can't take it. I may steel myself tomorrow for around the pasture edges though. He likes it so much.

DancingDraft
Jun. 13, 2011, 10:13 PM
You could also try what I do when I first get a horse. To introduce them to trails I hand walk them. My last two horses came off the track and they hadn't seen much "nature" so they were quite looky at first.

This. It may seem like "wasted" time that you could be using to ride, but it was the only thing that helped my confidence problem. I have heard of people long-lining out on the trail too, although I never did it myself because I was never taught how.

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
Jun. 13, 2011, 11:14 PM
Almost every time I ride, at least for warm-up and cool down. That's up from "alomst never" -- due to the fact that now I'm at a great facility with lots of trail-type areas and that my young mare is very brave and a joy to ride out. Even if something new scares her, she'll just need to look at it for a minute and then goes right past it. With my old TB, I would have never dared....

meupatdoes
Jun. 14, 2011, 10:26 AM
Personally I think riding a horse out is one of the best things you can do for the horse's soundness (physically even more than mentally).

That Long Slow Distance of a walk over hill and dale is where tendons and ligaments are strengthened; add 15 or 20 minutes of riding on the road a few times a week and you will give your horse better protection from a leg injury than bubble wrapping him in his stall ever could.

My favorite program for a horse is to do maybe a half hour in the ring and then an hour trail ride, finishing with a 15 minute walk along the road to get home, at least twice a week but as often as time permits. Legs of steel if you do that.

Bogie
Jun. 14, 2011, 10:31 AM
I agree. I also think that working on slightly uneven terrain is very helpful. I rarely ride in a ring. This morning I did my dressage school in a field and took advantage of the slightly rolling hill for my circle work. Slight collection down hill as you ask your horse to step under himself to balance . . . these little adjustments help your horse build muscle.

I also have found that it's a whole lot easier to teach lengthenings when you're NOT in a ring.


Personally I think riding a horse out is one of the best things you can do for the horse's soundness (physically even more than mentally).

That Long Slow Distance of a walk over hill and dale is where tendons and ligaments are strengthened; add 15 or 20 minutes of riding on the road a few times a week and you will give your horse better protection from a leg injury than bubble wrapping him in his stall ever could.

My favorite program for a horse is to do maybe a half hour in the ring and then an hour trail ride, finishing with a 15 minute walk along the road to get home, at least twice a week but as often as time permits. Legs of steel if you do that.

CFFarm
Jun. 14, 2011, 11:11 AM
There is no better way to bond with your horse than go for "adventures" and "confidence" rides. Get someone to go with you and just walk and work on calmness. Every ride will build trust and confidence for both your horse and yourself. As far as going alone, just start with a walk down the driveway and if either of you start to feel nervous turn around and go back. No shame in that-baby steps.

Bogie
Jun. 14, 2011, 11:21 AM
There is no better way to bond with your horse than go for "adventures" and "confidence" rides. Get someone to go with you and just walk and work on calmness. Every ride will build trust and confidence for both your horse and yourself. As far as going alone, just start with a walk down the driveway and if either of you start to feel nervous turn around and go back. No shame in that-baby steps.

No shame at all! When I first start riding my horses on the trail (after hand walking them), I frequently hop off to walk them by something that's scary at first. In the beginning I might get off several times on a ride. The side benefit is that they get much better about being mounted on the trails as they learn to hack.

Daatje
Jun. 14, 2011, 11:23 AM
Um, I never ride in an arena because I don't have one. :) It's the wide open field, road or trails for me.

I love riding out and about and feel stifled in an arena!

AppendixQHLover
Jun. 14, 2011, 11:56 AM
Green bean 1 is mostly in the ring. He does prefer to trail ride and will relax. We just work on keeping his focus in the ring. He thinks there are horse eating monsters sometimes...in the ring.

Green bean 2 who is further in her training goes fox hunting int he winter time and loves it. She gets reved up. In the summer she is a dressage princess and jumpers. We do cross training over jumps and sometimes just gallop. If we aren't moving forward fast enough we take out (jumps) furniture when doing jumpers. Yesterday on our gallop she thought it would be funny to put me into the pinetrees that line the ring. She has such a sense of humor.