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Long and Narrow Arena at Saddlebred Farm?

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  • Long and Narrow Arena at Saddlebred Farm?

    Why would an indoor arena be so long and narrow? It is a Saddlebred Farm, and I cannot wrap my head around how anyone can ride in this.

    I am not trying to start any arguments - I truly am curious about an explanation for the construction of an indoor of this shape.

    Actually, they called it a 'working aisle,' so it is basically a long and narrow sand area next to the aisle of stalls.

  • #2
    Very common in saddle seat barns. They don't expect their horses to bend, in fact when a saddle seat horse is sitting *that* far back on its back end, it's pretty much impossible for them to bend, so the "short end" of the arena basically doesn't "count" for anything in saddle seat riding (except in equitation). The short end is where you regroup and fix all the mistakes in order to work up a good head of steam and make that all-important "Good pass" past the judge down the long side. So they work 'em on long straight lines at home as well, to teach 'em that's where the bidness gits done!

    That's also why, if there is any skulduggery afoot in a class at a show, it is likely to take place at the short ends. Can't remember if it was last year or the year before but a bunch of us were watching when a BNT's young 5-gaited horse broke stride at the rack in the corner, and the BNT promptly stuck her hand in the air requesting a "time out" for, um, "equipment issues". She was gambling the judges wouldn't be looking at the short end, and she was correct. We all kind of giggled and commended her for quick thinking and excellent ring generalship!

    Saddle seat is also one of the few remaining disciplines that still has the judges' stand in the center of the ring at the shows, so even in a large arena there's not a lot of room anyway. Serpentines as a saddle seat eq. workout have pretty much gone the way of the dodobird nowadays, at least in my area, b/c there just isn't enough room for one at most shows once you've got a big ol' judge's booth with announcer, ringmaster, steward, organist & awards tables in there too.

    HTH!
    "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

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    • #3
      What I've seen from my trainer's is that half the work of keeping up a showhorse is involved in getting the gait right and bringing out the horse's natural motion. Most ASB are capable of doing the five gaits but some are more adept, naturally gaited or double gaited is what they call it. At any rate that's best done on the straightaway so often they'll just go up and down the barn aisle. My trainer's aisle footing is heavy shavings over clay and I've gone up and down that at a canter when the 44x120 arena was in use. Better not be claustrophobic.
      They do have need for corners and turns in the equitation patterns, and for driving once they put to the jog cart, but by and large they just don't need the space to do a forward moving turn. When you reverse directions in the show ring you do a turn on the forehand.
      When I went to Tattersall's sales the sales barn, and this may be true for a few, had a straightaway with a turning bulb on the end. The buyer's seats were mostly lining the straightaway and the standees were down at the bulb. The bulb was there for the horses being shown for sale in harness, so they could turn around.
      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
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      • #4
        WA reminds me, around here most of the county fair arenas are tracks around a lawn in the middle of which is a big ol' stand for the judges. And the organist!
        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
        Incredible Invisible

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
          WA reminds me, around here most of the county fair arenas are tracks around a lawn in the middle of which is a big ol' stand for the judges. And the organist!
          Oh man, this takes me back. Who remembers Miss Inez playing the organ at the Region 9 IAHA June Show in the 70's? Come on!
          Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life

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          • #6
            I've seen more saddlebred barns with a small round pen sized indoor at the end of the barn aisle for working horses on a longe line in a bitting rig and a wide, tall, dirt barn aisle for actually riding horses. They just go back and forth in straight lines.

            I actually don't think I've EVER seen an indoor *arena* at a saddlebred barn.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
              Serpentines as a saddle seat eq. workout have pretty much gone the way of the dodobird nowadays, at least in my area, b/c there just isn't enough room for one at most shows once you've got a big ol' judge's booth with announcer, ringmaster, steward, organist & awards tables in there too.
              Not true at all. In the UPHA Challenge Cup classes the standard workout is "Trot a serpentine to the opposite end of the ring. Return down either rail at a show trot." Most decent sized shows will have a 13 & under, 14-17 and Pleasure Challenge Cup class, so three classes in which the participants are doing the stanard serpentine workout.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                I actually don't think I've EVER seen an indoor *arena* at a saddlebred barn.
                I've worked at four different Saddlebred barns in my career, all have indoor arenas (actually two of the places I have worked have 2 indoors). The vast majority of other Saddlebred barns I have been to have indoor arenas.

                It will vary depending on the area of the country you are in. In areas that have fairer weather you will more commonly see things like a working aisle and a covered round pen, but no indoor arena, because they usually have a lovely outdoor arena or a 1/2 mile jogging track that they can use the majority of the year.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Marcella View Post
                  Why would an indoor arena be so long and narrow? It is a Saddlebred Farm, and I cannot wrap my head around how anyone can ride in this.

                  I am not trying to start any arguments - I truly am curious about an explanation for the construction of an indoor of this shape.

                  Actually, they called it a 'working aisle,' so it is basically a long and narrow sand area next to the aisle of stalls.
                  A main reason is cost saving in construction, especially when you are in an area of the country where you can work outside a great deal of the year. Cheaper to build a wide aisle than a completely seperate indoor arena.

                  The narrowest actual arena I have ridden in is 45', which really isn't that narrow. Trotting and cantering 40'-45' circles is not an extremely difficult thing. In a Saddlebred barn you are not setting up jump courses or trying to run a barrel pattern, you don't need the width. And it comes back to what is expensive when building, and that is width.

                  One other thing to think about is the length of the rings we show in. The Minnesota State Fair Coliseum has a 270' long arena, the Illinois State Fair coliseum is 240', Freedom Hall at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds where we have our World's Championship is 290' long. You need to be able to maintain gait and form for that length of a straightaway. Training exercises and patterns can be ridden in a variety of spaces, but you can't work on riding a long straightaway if you don't have a long straightaway.

                  And then there is the last little sidenot that most conditioning work with Saddlebreds is done in a jog carts, many are driven 3-5 days a week.

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                  • #10
                    The "glorified barn aisle" indoors are REALLY common around here...
                    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

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                    • #11
                      We actually looked at a farm that was a Saddlebred facility before we bought ours. It was out of our price range and on a very busy highway.... it had a 50 by 200 plus indoor. It was actually bought a few years later by people we know and is a h/j barn now. It was actually a lot wider than the other saddlebred places I have been in, where a loooooooooong, wide dirt aisle is the norm to ride in. Saddlebreds don't need width, they just need a long length for practicing their gaiting and extending (not sure if this is the proper terminology) and to build up speed... they don't traditionally do circles, diagonals or anything that would need the inside of the ring....
                      Last edited by headsupheelsdown; Apr. 27, 2013, 06:46 PM. Reason: grammar

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                      • #12
                        As others have said, it's really common for saddlebreds. The other perq about working in an aisle vice in an arena, is there isn't the room for them to jump out from underneath you. At least they are more likely to go forward than sideways.

                        Walking horse barns were also built this way. There's an old one in NoVa (Nightsong??) that was turned into a h/j barn. When I saw all the crap in their big wide workway b/w stalls I wanted to cry.
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