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Competing for ring time - in hand, groundwork vs riders

Read what I said… and then you put question marks.

Not everyone has a huge ring. The OP has not said they have a huge ring. Consider yourself lucky that you have always had a huge ring and are unable to imagine boarding at some place with out a huge ring.

I said arena size matters (which you clearly agree with) and depending on the size of the ring (in other words, if the ring is smaller) riding around someone lunging can not be done safely.

Well, unless they are lunging in a 10m circle, which I hope most people are not doing.


I didn’t grow up with arenas or longeing. As an adult rerider in h/j lessons I was taught not to ride around a longeing horse in the typical sized arena. The last time I tried to, at my recreational self board barn with no trainer to tell me no, there was a mutual spook and scoot moment for both horses and if we hadn’t been on opposite sides of the circle there would have been a bad wreck involving legs and ropes. Never again.

Yeah, in a giant field it wouldn’t matter. But in a more normal sized arena it’s too dangerous. Add to this that most people only longe their horses when they are a bit spicy. Or green.


I guess it has me wondering what is considered a " normal " sized arena? OP never said what size theirs was. I do agree that loose horses and riding don’t mix , although I could have one of mine loose and be riding the other no problem.

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Here in the burbs and exurbs I’ve almost never seen a privately owned indoor or outdoor that was over what I consider "standard size " Like ours where a 20 metre circle takes you onto the rail track on both sides, so maybe 70 feet wide? And maybe 12O long given how the dressage letters line up? You could get a bit bigger but there’s a limit to width with many indoor design structures.

I’ve only seen one privately owned outdoor arena that was huge, on an old TB property, and I think in retrospect there’d been a fence taken down between a big dry lot and a dressage court.

In other words, I would assume that in any indoor and most outdoor arenas the longeing horse is coming close enough to the rail to be a potential hazard for riders if things go haywire. And in a space big enough for it to be safe to ride around a longeing horse, you’d have so much room to ride you wouldn’t feel the need.

Obviously the show venues and the agricultural center have some huge arenas but not private barns around here.


What Scribbler said. I know of more than one smaller boarding barn that the indoor is 60’x90’.
It works great when there is no where else to ride. But not big enough to ride around someone who is lunging.


I often ride when a barnmate lunges. She alway asks if it’s okay and I always say yes. At least with current horse and hopefully any other one I would have in the future.
Why can’t people just talk, ask and be respectful of each other? I’m not a liberty person but if someone was doing that at my barn, I wouldn’t dream of barging in on them and expect them to leave. OTOH if she was at it for a while and showed no sign of wrapping up or putting horse on a lead, I would ask how long she was going to be and agree on a point where horse is on leas and I feel comfortable entering the arena.
To me this is more about courtesy and respect of others in both sides.


I don’t board, but years ago I took my greenie to xc schooling. It was packed. My horse was high as a kite from all the parking lot craziness, and I got on and aimed for the warmup ring. Whereupon there was someone lunging/doing in hand work. The ring was huge, but she was using the space right by the only 2 entrances, and while her horse wasn’t a complete hooligan, he was running around pretty fast. It almost blew my guy’s mind. I was able to get him to the back ring where they were setting up jumps, but they wouldn’t let me hack in there. I walked/jigged for about 20 minutes in that back ring, during which time the person had started doing close in hand work—having her horse back, pivot, etc., using a lunge whip. So I crashed her party and started warming up my horse in the big ring, and when my guy spooked stupid at something and upset her horse, apparently, she told me that she didn’t appreciate me upsetting her horse. ! We had a little ‘conversation,’ whereupon I advised her that unlike her I was sitting on my time-bomb and I didn’t appreciate her taking up the only warmup ring.

To me, that was common sense. But at the end of the day, I blamed the organizers for letting her lunge a horse in the only available riding ring on a busy xc schooling day. I mean, wtf? I know this isn’t the situation the OP is describing, but it made me aware of the issue and I agree with others—the barn should have clear rules about who can do what when and where.


I don’t mind if someone asks if they can do XYZ [low arena priority]. The problem comes when I say “no, I’m working on ABC today and you doing XYZ [low arena priority] is going to impact that. I’ll be finished in about 30 minutes” and the person is all butt hurt.

Just the other day I was at my previous barn, helping the mother of my lesson girl with her new horse. NEON green. We were down on a half of an arena, working on walk-halt-walk, the mom riding. Someone asks if they can lunge their horse, I say “sure, but no hooliganing around”. Sure enough, here comes the hooliganing, the handler does nothing to stop it, and in the interest of safety I cut my session short. That’s not good manners.

Liberty specifically - the problem with liberty work is that you are hogging the entire space to yourself, whereas other activities can be shared in the same space. When I’m at the barn, I’m on a time schedule - I can’t wait 15 minutes for someone to wrap up or my own ride gets cut short. Put Pookie on a rope and do some in-hand stuff, and we can share the space.


Yes, but I do agree with you, and part of my frustration is that the individual who I and others have trouble with seems to act like she’s better than everyone else. It gets old after awhile.

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I’m going to put this out there: If this rider is following the barn rules, she’s not “acting like she’s better than everyone else.” She’s there to ride.

If I can speak from my own experience, having to ASK every single time for someone to get their horse in order to share the arena is annoying. I’m there at the gate with my helmet on and my horse saddled. Read the room, don’t make me ask.


While I appreciate your perspective, after speaking with the barn owner on multiple occasions, the BO has agreed with me and others who has said that she should not be pressuring other people out of the ring and emphasizing that this is a relaxed family friendly environment for EVERYONE to enjoy, rather than one person bullying others.

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Fair enough, then your barn has different rules than the others I’ve been in.

I wouldn’t pressure someone out I would absolutely pressure them to get the horse on a line so I can ride.

Let’s word it in a different way. I would pressure someone to get the horse on a line so it’s possible to share.


Liberty work can’t blend in with riders. Period. It has too much potential to go awry.

In hand work is fine, just use a quadrant of the arena and don’t hog the centerline or a long side please.


I have an arena that is 65’by 125’.

The only safe way to ride while I lunge is the cut the arena in half. They get 66 × 55ish and I get the same , leaving a small buffer.

Both animals better be broke.

Arena size 1000000% matters, so keep your ???, they aren’t relevant.


Not that it matters-- but I wasn’t replying to a comment you made. If the arena is large enough the lunging horse can stay in the middle and in a small arena (like yours) they can have an end and while the rider may not be happy about it, it can work.

I questioned @trubandloki because at the time something about their statement hit me the wrong way.

I can see now that they were saying what I did. Some days are better than others for reading comprehension.

I know you weren’t replying to me. Instead of looking to be contrarian, perhaps first seek to understand. Makes life much smoother for all involved.


That stinks. And sounded like the case for anyone who expects others to automatically move out of their way. Maybe barn owner or manager can help? Boarding is hard and requires people to work together. So much of this is just respect and communication which can be hard to confront.

An option I’ve seen used with some special use of the arena required, ie driving horse, very very green horse, jumping grids is to have a calendar up and people could schedule online and could view the calendar, etc. People were allowed to request half hour or whatever time block per week for their specialized activity and if some people could work around it (like the driving horse), then they were welcome if they checked with the person signed up first.

It did at least help avoid some conflicts and I would use a similar schedule again if at a facility that needed it.


I would not ride in an arena where someone was doing liberty work…just no and like most, I feel riding has priority.

I had an incident this winter. We only have one arena open in the winter. It doesn’t currently have a gate. One other boarder asked if she minded if she walked her horse out there while I rode. Oh, she couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t explode. I said, no I don’t mind and went out to said arena and thought of a qualification to her request. I don’t mind IF you can keep a hold of him because I figured he would explode as she seldom takes him out. She is a smaller older lady with some physical issues and her horse is a big strapping Welsh Cob.

Sure enough, he walked calmly for about 3 minutes then went airborne and ripped the rope out of her hands and came straight for my horse. I just stopped and he got the lead loosely wrapped around his front legs but it was enough cause him to stop and my horse was standing calmly. The owner went to the entrance to block it (remember, no gate) and called him and he trotted straight to her (rope had fallen from his legs as soon as he stopped). Whew. Catastrophe averted.

I enjoy doing liberty work a lot but have done very little at this barn. One of the rules is no loose horses in the riding arenas and the round pen isn’t very big and the rule for it is you use it…you have to rake it. Yeah, I am not doing that very often. That is life. Barns (at least my barn) has rules and you follow them.


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I have to say that after being at the barn tonight, I have a deeper appreciation as to how a lot of you feel.

I saw a horse owner with her young horse let her horse off the lead rope when she was in the ring with a horseback rider and their horse. The young horse proceeded to gallop around the ring with his lead rope attached and she was having difficulty catching him. I could tell that this made the rider uncomfortable and they patiently halted and waited until she got things under control.

So, that’s not what I would do personally- I always let a rider have right of way and preference of using the ring. I personally prefer to give riders their space and if / when I do let my horse off lead, I make sure no one else is in the ring. People need to be respectful to others to maintain safety.