March 19, 2012




I got out today for a ride. The temps are still quite high and the horses are very affected by this. Neither has shed out enough winter coat to be taking temps up in the mid 70’s in stride. So I decided it would be a good morning to begin doing something in the ring.

Our riding ring has always been a “hot spot” with every horse we’ve ever owned. Thinking back, I’ve come to believe this is true because not one horse has ever been comfortable doing anything down in our ring. How hard can it be just to do a few simple exercises in a moderately sized arena? I dunno, I’m not a horse, but based on our history apparently it’s a big deal.

To be honest, our arena was built into the side of a sloping bank. *shrug* We don’t own any flat land and if we wanted a riding ring we were going to have to make due with the land we have. Needless to say, we spent a small fortune on bulldozing and fill. We tried to build the biggest arena the site could hold. It’s not huge, but it’s not piddly either.


The next project was to plant some seedling white pines along the perimeter of the arena. We did this mostly for erosion control, but also because the arena was going to be in full sun most of the time if we didn’t make a few plans for some shade. So we put bunch of seedlings the size of your pinkie in the ground and hoped for the best.



You can see the results above. The trees are at the point where I had to hack them back a bit. I was getting smacked in the face when going down the rail. Speaking of rails, they’re made of old salvaged pipe. Not the easiest thing to work with, but it was free for the taking and so we took them and built a fence around the ring with them. Again, it’s not winning any beauty contests, but it’s holding up well and it does the job.

Here’s a view where you can see how the lower pasture drops down the hill below the arena. It kind of gives you an idea of how we more or less just built this thing into the side of a hill.



And there’s a pretty steep ridge on the opposite side of the arena.



Why the horses don’t like this spot I don’t know. It’s actually pretty nice. It’s usually very quiet and secluded and we get some nice shade from about 3 PM on. Mornings part of the ring is also shaded. But for some odd reason they all act like it’s the arena from hell. Dharla has never been very comfortable working in it and none of our other horses liked it very much either. For years it sat unused and a ton of wheat grew up through the sand. I finally got tired of it being overgrown and asked my husband to move some composted topsoil down there and spread it around. I figured we may as well plant grass on it and I could at least use it for some agility and herding practice. Then I lost Tia and bought a young, green horse. Oops! Now it could stand to have a load of sand spread around the outside edges, but I’m afraid to ask. My husband already thinks I’m certifiably nuts.

I don’t plan on doing a ton of ring work, but I do think it’s a good idea to work on some stuff from time to time. Today, we just walked around and did lots of leg yielding, stops and backs. I could tell Dharla was gearing up to be full of herself if I asked for any speed, so I didn’t. Perhaps next time we’ll work on walk-trot transitions. I’ll have to see how she feels. I might want to do some ground work with her first and today it was just too hot too soon.

After we putzed around in the arena for awhile we took a meander down the dirt road, up through the woods and down the AL trail a ways. She has a slightly swollen knee from what looks like a minor scrape or bump, so I didn’t want to push her. Besides, the heat was just too much.

Time: 1.5 hr.

Distance: 2 mi. plus ring.

5 thoughts on “March 19, 2012

  1. I’ve found horses to be extremely sensitive to energy patterns and the reactions of your horses seems to indicate something dark that most humans cannot detect. Do you know of any horse whisperer’s in your area, or energy workers?
    What happens if you leave the horses to wander freely in the arena? Is there a corner they retreat to, or a particular place they avoid? Observing them may lead you to the problem, and from there, to a solution. Good luck 🙂

    • I agree, horses can tune into things humans miss. Three horses out of four have turned into bucking broncs in this ring. Even Tia, who rarely bucked with serious intent to dislodge me, bucked a few times when ridden there. At the time I chalked that up to an extreme dislike for schooling due to having done more than enough of that as a youngster, but who knows? Maybe she sensed something I didn’t? If turned loose they immediately drop head and eat grass. Calmly. No apparent worries. And that’s their pasture on two out of four sides of the arena, so it’s not like they don’t see the ring plenty. I’m totally stumped!

  2. Interesting comment above. Horses certainly have a more sensitive nature than many of us do.
    So now I am curious if the horses will hang out there comfortably on their own or not.

    Are they good in other arenas?

    My first thought was all the trees could be spooky. But trees are more the norm for your area. Usually my horses have acted goofy anywhere but at home, at least until they get used to traveling.
    Kind of a head scratcher.

    • I’ve never ridden our horses in any other arena. Just our own. I know Dharla was schooled in an indoor and outdoor arena as well as a round pen. I rode her for a month with the trainer at her home barn and we used the round pen several times with no problems whatsoever. Tia was also formally schooled. Bullet, not so much, but he hates our arena too and gets all bucky and bratty. I mean, it’s not like they can’t be worked down there … you just have to get through some nonsense first.

      I also thought the problem was maybe the trees too. Horses fear what they can’t see, even if there’s really not much of anything real to fear. The trees kind of block their ability to see out and about. (Though sometimes too much viability freaks them out too!) and I think they get to worrying about something they think might be “out there” beyond their field of vision. Arabians in particular are good at making things up in their mind to freak out about. I thought about trimming the pine trees from the bottom a little in hopes that a little more openness might improve the situation. I’m still on the fence about that. Once trimmed, I can’t put the branches back, so I’m gonna hold off a bit more and see how it goes over the next few weeks.

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