Calling All Adult Amateurs with Horses at Home. Where do you ride?

I’ve just moved my OTTB home for the first time in my life. I’ve got a nice 2.5 acre pasture with a few flat spots in it. I’m wondering who else is out there riding their horse at home in the grass?

I’m in KY and currently the ground is frozen pretty hard so there’s no riding to be done. Then, we will have mud and I’ll have to be careful not to tear up the field. I’m an eventer hoping to get my horse started going BN this year, so I’m needing to figure out a more consistent way to ride besides trailering to other places all of the time.

Does anyone have suggestions? Tips? I hope to build an arena in the future, but we just moved in and it’s not in the budget right now.


Just another adult amateur

Keeping horses at home is wonderful, but when you don’t have adequate room to ride in decent footing, it can really sloooooowwwwww down your progress. If you don’t want to haul out, consider boarding during the months that make it impractical/impossible to train. You can’t get a horse fit and trained if you can’t get on.

I just brought mine home too! Isn’t it wonderful?!

Right now I ride and jump in our pasture which is about 2 acres and flat. Fortunately, we don’t get frozen ground here but it does get swampy and wet in the summer months so I’ll have to find a new place to ride when that time comes. I also have access to the properties surrounding mine so if my pasture starts showing too much wear or gets too wet in the summer, I can ride elsewhere. I also do a lot more hacking out now so my rides aren’t confined to a ring the way they were while I was boarding. My trainer is about a 50 minute trailer ride away and I work full time so hauling out is challenging. I’d love to put a ring in but it’s going to cost us big money and it’s just not in the budget right now. I do really, really miss the nice footing we had while boarding:cry:

I ride in my pasture. There is a fairly flat area in one corner. I have a few sets of jumps and poles.

Pro: slight terrain changes improve balance and fitness, especially for eventing!
Con: our torrential Southern rains and clay-type soil can render it unrideable periodically. We don’t get as much frozen ground as it sounds like you guys do, but we get plenty of rain :(. Also, no lighted area.

I live on my family’s big cattle farm, and we have a well-graded dirt road that goes way back to some other parts of the property, so that is good to hack, do trots, or work on leg yielding and lateral work. Downside to going way far off from the house is the possibility of getting dumped and/or hurt. I do always carry my cell phone, but if something happened it might take some time for someone to get to me.

Amateur here with five at home. I have a large outdoor, but it’s winter and snowy. I’m very lucky to have a small indoor, but it’s too small to really do much besides fitness so I find the best route is to haul out a couple of times a week (I’m way too neurotic about care and set in my ways to be a boarder - nobody would want me at this point). It’s also not such a bad thing to have the winter off. All of that said, there is really no substitute for a good place to ride with good footing. The sooner you can build that arena, the happier you’ll be.

I ride in part of my hay field. I do haul out if the footing is too horrible for a few days ! Especially since it always seems to pour rain all week before a show… My horses have this winter off.

Lots and lots of walking.

I use my neighbor’s pasture. Will start to haul to the Foundation for trail riding later in the spring.

I have a ring but the footing is quite deep. I’ve pulled out as much footing as I can, but am not in a position to invest money into this place or the ring (leaving soon), so limit how much work I do in there. I will be using part of my field once it’s not muddy.

For winter, I boarded at an indoor starting in December. Even if you just boarded Feb/March (or the last two months of winter) to get started, it’s a jump start for sure. Then spend some time off property hacking; you can get a lot of your dressage work done on the trail. There’s an inactive gravel pit not too far from my house, so sometimes I’ll hack there, do a few minutes of work, and then continue on our way.

If your horse isn’t too green, you can piece together some semblance of training and fitness, haul out once or twice a week to get some real work done in a proper ring, and do the fitness and foundations on the trail until your field dries up.

In the fields (there are high and dry spots out there - somewhere), on the gravel drives, on the shoulder of the road and if worst comes to worst, on the pavement.

My advice is to make friends with your neighbors. I usually haul out to ride but due to some truck issues, I am stuck at home for the moment. My neighbor has some short trails he is allowing me to ride on. Even though they are not very long, they are up and down some nice hills which will help keep my horse in shape. As far as schooling, I found a flat spot in my pasture and am working him there as long as it is not very hard or muddy. It can be a challenge, but it can be done.

I have 5 acres so made a grass arena separate from the paddocks but I mostly ride around the neighborhood and around the crop fields. I spent a lot of time training my horse to be OK with traffic and it’s paying off now.

grass?! :lol:

do you mean my lovely skating rink/snow pond?

OP congrats on moving your guy home. IMHO nothing like opening your front door and seeing your horse’s face swing out and look at you from the paddock.

as far as conditioning them - fellow eventer here, we ride in the ring when we are able to - it is a hilly paddock that was converted into a riding area. not an arena. the hills make dressage challenging but training on grass is a bonus - several events in the NE have dressage on grass and i find i have an advantage some riders do not. on days it is muddy i have never regretted hitting the trails instead of riding in the ring - sometimes that means we’re hacking out for like two weeks in a row – but this keeps my horse[s] fresh minded and IMHO is better for them than training 3-5x a week in dressage/flat.

in the winter when we start getting four feet of snow i have to be creative, i usually just walk up and down the driveway. i haven’t been able to school seriously since november… you can walk the entire winter with your horse and still come out in march and put 3-4 weeks of flat work on them and be reasonably fit to run BN. especially with a TB.

once the snow starts thawing i usually spend a few times a week hauling out to leg up for the season.

in a perfect world, i agree with melissa.van.doren – while walking/trail riding all winter has never hurt my horses (if anything, it has improved our partnership and has improved their bravery/acceptance of new things) it has also slowed down our progress in the ring.

Congrats on joining Horses At Home :encouragement:

You say you have a 2.5ac pasture, but do you have additional unfenced acreage you can use?

I have given over a nice-sized part of my lawn (North of the house) as my “outdoor” grass arena.
I do have a good indoor - 60X120 - but have found I really prefer riding outdoors. My “outdoor” is larger than the indoor :smiley:
My outdoor space is flat and has a convenient line of 3 large trees fronting the road - spaced so I can ride between trees & road, but also use them as a visible barrier. I even have a log/brush pile there that has served as a jump.
In the same area I’ve left a meadow of about 1/2ac that I mow paths through & that provides more rideable space.
Of course, when the ground is wet/soft I can’t ride there, but as soon as Spring & Summer dry it out it is very usable.

I also have a wide lane around my pastures that neighbors cut & bale. I can ride there when hay has been cut & another flat area about the size of my indoor along the South side of my property that is near the road there, but has bushes growing along the road edge to form a barrier.

Take a long look at your property and see if there is rideable space you can repurpose.

Thanks for the advice/support. It’s nice to hear from others in the same boat.

I’m located in Lex, KY and we’ve had snow and frozen ground for the past few weeks and next week will be snow and more crap. I haven’t had the weather to get on my horses in over a week–it’s either frozen or slop. I’ve got about a half acre in the back with an old tennis court base that I am hoping to/plan to make into an arena at some point, but with just having bought fencing, stalls, etc, I can’t afford it right now.

As for hauling out, I did that the past weekend to a farm who charged me $20 for a ONE TIME fee which I think is too much. I’m still searching around to find a place nearby with a reasonable fee. When the weather is nice, I can always to go Masterson Station where they have XC and arenas. Unfortunately my neighbors do not have any additional riding space.

When I was buying both properties I’ve had, I would not buy a place without an arena. Having said that, the first couple years we lived in our last place we got a lot of rain and half the arena was under water at times, so I would either ride or hand walk up and down the gravel road.

Now the issue is frozen ground or snow. I have a small indoor where I can do some basic wtc, which is nice, but if it is too cold I won’t ride because my fingers don’t work, so the horses get a few weeks off here and there.

The last place I boarded, they would close the outdoor arenas in heavy rains , but the footing inside sucked, so I would walk and trot up and down the gravel driveway, which was probably a mile long.

What do you expect to pay for a haul-in fee? One place here I found was $10 (need to get my pony out and exposed to other things). That one would take me 30 minutes or so to get to. I just found another right around the corner that will take me 5 minutes to get to…that’s $15. It is worth it for the time I save.

Ah, I am used to paying a monthly fee between $30-$50 where you can come and go whenever you want.

I’ve got space for an arena, but no arena yet–we’ve only lived here for 4 weeks, haha! And unfortunately since I brought the horses home two weeks ago, the weather has sucked.

I am very lucky to have a lovely sand and rubber outdoor arena. Last winter it was usually thawed by the afternoon except for a few very cold or snowy weeks. With the huge amount of snow and the very cold days we’ve had in the last few weeks, even that doesn’t help much. My guy had 3 weeks off until this week, when I’ve been thrilled to ride 3 times in the half of my arena that doesn’t still have snow on it. He didn’t seem any worse for the time off even though he’s almost 20–actually we had unusually good rides, so maybe the vacation was good for him.

My neighbor kindly lets me use her indoor for a $15 per use fee. It’s just a few minutes’ walk down my driveway and up hers (they connect so I don’t even have to touch the road). However, there are time restrictions due to lessons, the lesson schedule isn’t very consistent/predictable, and the fee is just high enough that I save it for when I really feel the need. I would love a $30-50 monthly fee.

IME $10 per use is pretty standard, or $15 for nicer facilities/footing (which my neighbor’s is not, but I’m not going to complain because I’m grateful she lets me use it at all, and the convenience factor is very high).

I’ve been fantasizing about a tiny covered round pen, but I really can’t justify the expense.

Those of you who use your pasture to ride in, how do you locate and deal with holes?

Those of you who use your pasture to ride in, how do you locate and deal with holes?[/QUOTE]

Whenever the pasture is mowed, and it should be at least once a year, I go and patrol my riding path to look for holes. After that, any fresh ones will be obvious because of dirt. What I really worry about is underground tunnels. The chuck hole may be in the fence line, but who’s to say the roof of his dwelling can stand -up to a gallop. Gives me the heebie jeebies. I stay at least 10 feet away from all known holes even if I think they go off in the other direction.

No sense trying to block them up unless you first murder the occupant. Just steer clear.