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  1. #1
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    Aug. 30, 2007
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    Default Awesome trail horse HATES being 'arena horse'?

    So, are there any folks here who own a trail horse who is absolutely FANTASTIC out on trail, but is a completely different story in an arena?

    Long story short, my mare is one of the best trail horses I've ever ridden. When I first started working with her (before I bought her), she was a WRECK out on trail. Nervous, jumpy, just wanted to turn tail and get back home. But after a summer of trail rides with confident trailmates and lots of quiet, successful rides, she became the trail horse of my dreams.

    She can go out alone, with one trailmate, or even a large group. She w/t/c perfectly out on trail, and I've even done a little hand-gallop once or twice as well (we're gonna work more on that this summer). I can take her out into a huge open field, and CALMLY canter the entire thing with slack in the reins. Taking off NEVER seems to entire her mind, ever.

    We've been chased by dogs, ridden through the sound of gunshots in the air (and got OUTTA there asap! ), chased by a group of 20 unsupervised children, gone through creeks, gone into lakes, etc, etc.

    Another example of her awesome temperament out on trail is today was the first time I've ridden in 2 weeks, due to me being sick. I hopped on bareback, with a hackamore, we did a few laps in the indoor to warm up (much to mare's chagrin!), then went out into the snow (which was still falling, so pretty!) and wandered through the snow for about 10 minutes. Short ride, but I can't handle much more yet, still recuperating! But point is, ride went without incident.

    On the other hand, maresie is a different horse in the arena. She throws hissy fits, 'complains' a lot, doesn't want to work. She gets bored easily, and will try and duck out the door to the trails if I let her. She also has a bucking habit in the arena, that I've NEVER seen out on trail.

    So my question is, does anyone else have a horse like this? To be honest, I'm starting to think I'm just better off leaving the arena behind and commiting to trail only. I don't like riding in the arena, clearly my mare doesn't, so why should I even bother? I ride for fun, and if it's not fun, then why do it?

    Any ideas? What do you guys think?
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 5, 2002
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    way out west
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    Default

    I've had horses like that. You just have to decide what level of resistance you can stand from your horse that clearly prefers to be out.

    I prefer to ride outside on the trails, and I can understand why my horses seem to prefer it as well. This time of year, however, I'm stuck riding in an indoor since there's so much snow, and we're just trying to make the best of it. But believe me, once the ground's dry, we're only going to ride out on the trails.

    I have one friend that never rides all winter long, because she can't stand to ride around in circles in an arena. Works for her, and her horse seems fine with the winter off. I do it more for my own sanity than anything..I need my horse fix!



  3. #3
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    Aug. 30, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by saddleup View Post
    I've had horses like that. You just have to decide what level of resistance you can stand from your horse that clearly prefers to be out.

    I prefer to ride outside on the trails, and I can understand why my horses seem to prefer it as well. This time of year, however, I'm stuck riding in an indoor since there's so much snow, and we're just trying to make the best of it. But believe me, once the ground's dry, we're only going to ride out on the trails.

    I have one friend that never rides all winter long, because she can't stand to ride around in circles in an arena. Works for her, and her horse seems fine with the winter off. I do it more for my own sanity than anything..I need my horse fix!
    I know what ya mean! Luckily I could probably ride enough in the winter here to 'hold me over', and to be honest, I'm content just grooming and playing with her most of the time.
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov. 7, 2006
    Location
    Lexington, VA
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    Default

    I've got one of those, too. My 18 year old Polish Arabian Willie does anything for me on the trail - goes through water, never spooks, just a good solid citizen. Whenever I try to ride in our small pasture, he equates it with "being schooled" and is just a mess. He refuses to go forward, turns in circles, etc. until I force the issue. Then he does what is asked, but if looks could kill, I'd be pushing up daisies. LOL!!! He will even turn and try to bite my foot! But as long as we are out of the arena, he is the perfect gentleman. So I avoid what he considers "schooling" as much as we can, since I really don't enjoy it either! Good luck - these types surely make it interesting, don't they?
    stained glass groupie
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2004
    Location
    Connecticut
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    Default

    I can understand your horses thought. It is just like some people who can't stand being in an office all day and prefer an outside job - like me

    And some horses HATE the trails, yet love the confines of an arena.

    I do think it is important at some point to make her tolerable to the arena. If by some chance you do have to sell her, due to an unforeseen circumstance, we do owe it to our horses to make them the best they can be. This was something I heard from a clinician at the Equine Affaire.

    You don't want to avoid the arena because she doesn't like it. She might end up in someone Else's hands that wants to arena ride. And you don't want her to be punished for something she was never taught. And then possibly passed along....

    I do a lot of trail riding, but when we come back, we do a little Western Pleasure in the ring. She's not perfect at it by any means, but does a nice little collected jog. Again, I think for our horses sake, we owe it to them to be well rounded. IMO



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 13, 2008
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    156

    Default

    Well my show horse as a kid definately fell into the 'hates trail rides' category. It does happen on occasion.

    I figure if you like trail rides and so does your horse, what's the problem? It's not like you can't work on skills when you're on the trail; especially if your trails include fields.

    Sounds like a win-win to me, and a great partnership!



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr. 9, 2007
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    686

    Default

    Yep, my 14yo QH gelding is the exact same way. He is the best trail horse I've ever encountered.

    I've been working with him on it, and he has improved quite a bit. I am primarily a trailrider. I'd love to take lessons and be able to compete in eventing, but I'll not use my gelding for that purpose.
    I agree on the points Huntertwo made. That's the problem I see mini-me. Sure you can work on your skills, but if you desire to compete at any point in time, or if another owner after you wishes to compete, it doesn't matter how skilled you have become if your horse goes nuts when he gets near an arena.

    I say, work with her if you don't care about going up the levels in competition. She sounds like a great horse that over time will improve. If your goal is competing and working up the levels, she may not be the one for you.

    Good luck!



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan. 13, 2008
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    156

    Default

    I do agree that some work should be done to make the arena tolerable. As much as my mare hated trails, she was 'convinced' to do it at least a couple times a month. I read the OP as it was weird that the horse didn't like the arena, but not a huge concern. If you ever want to compete in an arena, then obviously your horse needs to behave in one.

    I suppose it could be equated to socializing dogs. Unless you expose your animals to many different things, and ensure they are accepting of those different situations, you're always going to have problems. You never know when it may be important that your horse behave in an arena.


    That said, I stand by my original post. If you're both having fun on trails, then good for you! Just make sure the behavior in the arena isn't bad enough to be dangerous.



  9. #9
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    Aug. 30, 2007
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    Illinois, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by eventgroupie2 View Post
    I've got one of those, too. My 18 year old Polish Arabian Willie does anything for me on the trail - goes through water, never spooks, just a good solid citizen. Whenever I try to ride in our small pasture, he equates it with "being schooled" and is just a mess. He refuses to go forward, turns in circles, etc. until I force the issue. Then he does what is asked, but if looks could kill, I'd be pushing up daisies. LOL!!! He will even turn and try to bite my foot! But as long as we are out of the arena, he is the perfect gentleman. So I avoid what he considers "schooling" as much as we can, since I really don't enjoy it either! Good luck - these types surely make it interesting, don't they?
    Haha, your guy sounds a lot like my mare! She tried to duck out the door to the trails right after I got on today, and I steered her away from it. Oooo I got a little hissy fit! A little headshake, pinned ears, snapped the teeth together once or twice. Lasted all of two seconds, but she was making it QUITE clear where she wanted to be.

    Huntertwo; That's true. Perhaps taking the arena out of her 'repetoire' entirely is a bad idea, but limiting the time in there so she doesn't dread it so much. Perhaps a few arena rides per month, and make it fun with cones, poles, etc. She loves that stuff. I think it's the monotony of the arena she dislikes the most (I know I do!). If I give her a 'job' or a game, like weaving cones or hopping over a cavaletti, she's much happier.

    Mini_Me; Oh, of course. I don't allow my mare to have dangerous behaviors like that. She CAN w/t/c in the arena, but it's not real pretty. We have a bucking habit at the canter depart that I'm working on, but other than that it's the looks I get, and the lack of impulsion (where she's actually quite a forward horse usually), that lets me know she doesn't wanna be there.

    Perhaps that will be our compromise. Trail ride more, but don't give up arena entirely. Instead, give her stuff to do in the arena to make the time in there more bearable.

    (Oh, and PS, I don't show or compete. No desire to. )
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr. 3, 2007
    Location
    Wisconsin
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    Default

    Oh that is so my pony. I have a little Arab mare, I've trained her and owned her for... almost four years, the only one who's ever been one her. We love the trails. She is the most fantastic little trail horse. Especially by herself. With a couple of horses she can be over competitive and get nutsy. But by herself I could not ask for a better horse. She's so willing and responsive. I like to call her my little sports call, we know each other so well and she handles beautifully. She's also extremely intelligent and loves new trails. But... forget the arena, try to just make her do flat work and... The little mare is a nightmare. She tries to duck out of everything, gets resistant and acts like she hasn't a clue what I'm trying to get her to do. While on the trails she is the most nimble little horse I"ve ever ridden, she seems to get stiff as a board when I try to make her do circles. Unfortunately, I share her sentiment and would far rather be on the trail than riding circles. So I let her get away with it.



  11. #11
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    Jul. 2, 2005
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    1,642

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    Seabiscuit is like that too. Really likes the trails best. He will hold it together for school in the outdoor ring, or in a field. But in the indoor, he just isn't happy. He'll protest going on a correct lead, fake spook at a jump he's seen a lot. So with my bad leg, we took the winter off, and he's happy and so am I. I hate riding in cold or windy weather anyway. The indoor is cold, things rattle, ice slides off the roof. I just hope he remembers that bikes won't eat him.
    ********
    There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.



  12. #12
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    Aug. 27, 2007
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    Loudoun County, Virginia
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    Some are just like that, but here's what I'd do. Do some schooling some outside of the arena - whatever the horse needs some fine-tuning on, and then putz around in the arena for awhile. DON'T make him work. The worst thing you can do is have him associate the arena as being where he has to work hard. Do you ride him differently in the arena? I've seen that as well. Very relaxed rider on the trail, and "trying to be a show rider" in the ring. He may be picking up on that.

    He definitely should learn to tolerate it, and misbehaviors aren't acceptable, but if it's always a fight it's probably not worth it to push him too hard.



  13. #13
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    Dec. 14, 2005
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    My QH Jazz was somewhat like your mare -- the max he would tolerate the ring was 20-30 minutes. He's very smart, and gets bored easily. So if I wanted to work in the ring, I had to "prepare" the ring with cones, poles, etc. to be sure I had enough to keep his mind engaged and to keep changing things up. I also strategized our exersize plan so it was different each time. I found that I needed to be unpredictable as to whether we were going to hack around before or after the ring work -- or he would spend the whole time trying to convince me to go out the gate.

    But then he got injured and went on over a year of stall rest. Now that we're starting to ride again -- he doesn't complain about the ring at all. He's just so happy to be back to riding.
    "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
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  14. #14
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    Oct. 14, 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by sublimequine View Post

    She CAN w/t/c in the arena, but it's not real pretty. We have a bucking habit at the canter depart that I'm working on, but other than that it's the looks I get, and the lack of impulsion (where she's actually quite a forward horse usually), that lets me know she doesn't wanna be there.
    Thats how my mare was and sometimes still tries a little bit. She'll walk, jog fine, but when I ask for the lope departure she used to let out a little buck.
    I ignored it and just kept her working. She's stopped the bucking, but will often make ugly faces along with shaking her head when we depart at the lope. A sharp "Quit" - and she usually stops.



  15. #15
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    Dec. 9, 2005
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    Yep, some of the best trail horses I've known hate arenas. That works okay for me, since I don't like arenas much these days, either.



  16. #16
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    Aug. 30, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by thumbsontop View Post
    Some are just like that, but here's what I'd do. Do some schooling some outside of the arena - whatever the horse needs some fine-tuning on, and then putz around in the arena for awhile. DON'T make him work. The worst thing you can do is have him associate the arena as being where he has to work hard. Do you ride him differently in the arena? I've seen that as well. Very relaxed rider on the trail, and "trying to be a show rider" in the ring. He may be picking up on that.

    He definitely should learn to tolerate it, and misbehaviors aren't acceptable, but if it's always a fight it's probably not worth it to push him too hard.
    You know, I'm starting to think some of my issue is just that; we do difficult exercises in the arena; out on trail, not so much. I think she's starting to just associate arena = 'hard stuff'. Maybe I need to do a bit more 'hard stuff' out on trail, and less 'hard stuff' in the arena.

    A little update, we had some cavaletti fun today in the indoor because it was too wet and slick outside. She was fairly good, and was THOROUGHLY enjoying catapulting herself over the cavalettis. We threw a few small hissy fits when I tried to steer her away from the cavaletti, but overall it was an okay ride.
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!



  17. #17
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    Apr. 17, 2002
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    eh, sort of. My TWH hates giving me any sort of real 'forward' in an arena setting...the bigger it is the better he is, but beyond that, no. I am picky everywhere- in the arena or out- so to them it mostly doesn't matter.

    I think the best trail riding horses prefer to be OUT, though, and that's how it ought to be.



  18. #18
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    Oct. 14, 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by sublimequine View Post
    You know, I'm starting to think some of my issue is just that; we do difficult exercises in the arena; out on trail, not so much. I think she's starting to just associate arena = 'hard stuff'. Maybe I need to do a bit more 'hard stuff' out on trail, and less 'hard stuff' in the arena.

    A little update, we had some cavaletti fun today in the indoor because it was too wet and slick outside. She was fairly good, and was THOROUGHLY enjoying catapulting herself over the cavalettis. We threw a few small hissy fits when I tried to steer her away from the cavaletti, but overall it was an okay ride.
    Yeah, I probably wouldn't make it hard work. I work mine maybe 30 minutes in the arena. Bending, circles - switching direction quite often (keeps her focused on me) side passing.

    I still want my Western Pleasure lope - Damn it!!!



  19. #19
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    Oct. 9, 2000
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    Miles is like that. In the arena, he's a little pisser. Actually, the times he's performed the best in the arena is when I'm bareback and bitless - maybe it is because I'm more relaxed that way and I can feel him better with my seat (he moves great off seat - hates leg!). Out on the trail, he's a champ. We wtc through winding single track in the pine forests - up hill, down hill. We've been followed by coyotes, played with cows, had deer jump out in front of us, have bikes zoom by us, go by huge industrial wood chippers, chain sawers, dogs, strollers, whatever. We can go out alone or in a group.

    But in the arena? Ppppffftttt!

    I decided last year that we would do what we do best. And once I made the decision to not push him to do what he hates, we've had even more fun.

    To a certain extent I agree that our horses should be versatile enough should we need to sell them. Knowing him so well, though, I would not sell him to someone who wants to do anything other than trail ride. Likewise if I wanted a trail horse, I would not go shopping for a spooky jumper (just an example, nothing against jumpers per se) and expect to make him do something he's proved he hates doing.

    Riding is so much more enjoyable when you have a horse who loves his job and it matches with what you love to do also.
    My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pocket Pony View Post
    Riding is so much more enjoyable when you have a horse who loves his job and it matches with what you love to do also.
    Amen!



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