Competing for ring time - in hand, groundwork vs riders

Hi… just curious if any of you who do in hand work, liberty, or other groundwork sometimes feel pressured or “pushed out” of the ring because you’re not riding?? If so, what do you do??

I noticed one of my friends doing groundwork/ Liberty yesterday and a rider was pressuring her to get out of the ring- but there’s another ring which she could have used!

It’s happened to me a few times, I often feel that
I’m not as important because I don’t ride… but the groundwork that I do with my horse IS important… it doesn’t take priority though vs an equestrian wanting to use the ring.

Wondering what you would do?

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What are your barn rules?

Everywhere I’ve been it goes Riders --> lungers --> in hand --> turnout. If that’s the case, then your friend is offended over nothing. If there’s another ring to use, your friend could have left and gone there. The rider has the “right of way”.

And yes, it’s still liberty if you have a rope on them but you aren’t holding it. I almost got bucked off due to that stupid idea.


I can see how that is frustrating.

Where I am, being winter with snow and ice there is very limited space to ride since most boarding facilities only have one indoor that everyone has to share.

We have rules similar to what was posted above. Riders get the right of way, lunging second, etc.
The thing is, we all share well and try to communicate.

One difference between liberty work and riding is, with riders there can be multiple people working out there at once, sharing the space. But with liberty work that is not an option. So your friend had the whole ring in use and no one else could use it.

It is kind of like people taking lessons have the right of way over people hacking.

Does the barn where your friend is not have rules about ring use? Maybe talk to the barn owner/manager about setting up rules so there is no question about ring use.


It’s very rude to do liberty work if someone else wants to use the arena at a boarding barn. Your friend was in the wrong.


After having a horrible experience with someone who insisted on trying to do liberty work at the busiest times of the day, I have to say - liberty work has nearly no place at a busy boarding barn, unless you’re able to come at off hours when no one is there.

Trying to do liberty work with other people in the arena is entirely a NO. Not even if you think you’re close enough to grab the rope if the horse tries to boogie. No, no, and no.

I don’t mind people doing in-hand stuff (with a rope!!!), as long as they’re off the rail and not dead-center in the middle of the arena. I can work around that easily, as a rider.

Lungers are pretty annoying, because they take up half the arena and there’s only so much I can do on a 20m circle. Edit: Plus, too many of them allow the horse to hooligan around - that’s great experience for my young horse to learn she can’t partake, but at some point it becomes dangerous and annoying as well.


If there was another ring, why didn’t your friend move? Liberty work has less concerns around footing, access to mirrors, jumps, etc. Unless it was a total power move it sounds more likely that the rider needed the amenities offered by one ring not available in another.


Liberty work has the very lowest priority in a shared arena.
If both arenas have the exact same amenities, other rider could have picked the empty one (assuming that was the case).
If the arena with your friend’s loose horse had something the other rider needed, then your friend should have switched.

I once had to hack in an arena with a loose horse. I was the only rider at the time, it was the only arena.
Loose horse owner was BO, assured me I’d be safe & though she was “right”, I had to be on High Alert as I rode.
Not very relaxing when loose horse came cantering up to me… :astonished:


I do liberty work. I am lucky in that my barn has several outdoor turn out arenas and a roundpen where we can work with loose horses. We are not allowed loose horses in the indoor or outdoor riding arenas but we can do in hand work if it’s not crowded.

No one should be doing liberty work when others are riding. That’s just insane.

Anyhow your barn should have rules and priorities posted. The rule could be liberty gives way to a rider wanting to ride, or the liberty person needs to wrap up in 10 minutes, or no liberty in the main arena

Honestly riding is more potentially dangerous than liberty or ground work, and riders should have the best and safest footing to work on. They should get priority to the groomed arenas. I can do in hand in the parking lot if I need to.


I bought my own d@mn farm. Now I don’t have to share the ring with anyone.


To me it depends. You posted this in the riders with health issues section. Is the owner of the horse unable to ride? Is groundwork and liberty the only training/working with horse that is possible? If so then I would feel that ground work attached to a line in this instance should rank just as high on the arena access as a rider. Liberty work would be a no but lunging or other in hand work would be fine. And regardless of rider health status if there is another perfectly usable space and one party doesn’t want to share the new party should go to the other area. Unless there is equipment only in the one arena such as jumps, mirrors, etc. It’s not rocket science to navigate shared spaces and being a little accommodating shouldn’t be a hardship if you have a modicum of manners.

Depending on the size of the ring, riding around someone who is lunging can not really be done safely.

Sure, if the ring is huge and each person can have an end… then it works.


Hi, everyone-

Thank you for the replies.

I posted in this forum because I didn’t see a forum for groundwork, in hand work or Liberty, if there is one, please let me know, many thanks.

My mare does have severe arthritis/ DJD, which is why we only do groundwork and in hand work, not ridden.

Perhaps there was some confusion- I would never keep my mare off lead with riders in the ring, and most people at the barn would agree with that. I was just frustrated because there’s one large outdoor ring which is primarily used for equestrian/ riding work, and there is a smaller indoor ring, which isn’t as popular, but when multiple horse owners are at the barn, people like myself or my friend are often waiting for equestrians to finish riding so we can also use the ring, and just to be clear, I always use the ring with my mare either on a lead rope or if it’s off lead- just her and me.

Thank you for all the suggestions, many thanks.

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AmyGrace, to answer this question - There is a section called Off Course where any general questions that do not fit into any of the other more specific sections go.


OP, I think it is fine to use the arena in hand with other people riding, provided your horse is under control.


Thank you!

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No problem. That will help you, in the future, to get your questions the most answers.

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I agree. I’d rather have someone doing “in hand” stuff than lunging, because at least both halves of the arena can be used by the rider (and the long side!) if someone is doing basic ground work stuff.


**[quote=“endlessclimb, post:17, topic:782029, full:true”]
I agree. I’d rather have someone doing “in hand” stuff than lunging, because at least both halves of the arena can be used by the rider (and the long side!) if someone is doing basic ground work stuff.


There’s in hand work and then there’s sending a young horse around on a 12 foot lead rope while shaking a plastic bag on a stick, until horse has a bucking fit and bolts and all the lesson kids hit the dirt

Also my lateral ground work makes it hard to see who is in my path so it’s a bit disruptive too.


Fair enough. I don’t mind the bag shaking, flag waving, rock-in-a-bottle shaking stuff, as it makes for a more broke horse.

Different if you’ve got beginners in a lesson.

Lateral ground work doesn’t bother me, even if the handler can’t see well. It’s no different than riding around another rider working on those things. I’m not going to be buzzing by so close that there will be an issue, and I can ask my horse to scoot over a bit if I see the lateral groundwork at the last minute.


Of course it can. It all depends on the skill of the rider and the skill of the person lunging. The rider stays on the rail and the person lunging is in the center. It happened all the time in my boarding barns arenas.

If your horse is a nut on the lunge or the horse being ridden is likely to blow a fuse then don’t do it but many boarders were able to work together with no issues.

Arena size is a factor. Ours were huge.