Covered Arena Take Over

I have my horse at a small private barn that only has a fairly small covered arena to ride in. Before a new boarder moved in, most afternoons I would be there by myself and could set jumps and do my schooling in peace. However, this new boarder, while a very nice person is a barrel racer and is friends with a couple of other barrel racers at the barn. And, they are now riding in the afternoon at the same time I’m there and have set barrels in the arena, and basically take it over to practice their runs. As I said it’s a small arena and more than two people at a time, while doable, would be pretty crowded. I didn’t even ride yesterday because there were three people out there trying to avoid crashing into each other.

So, since I’m a paying customer just like they are, should this be something to bring up to the BO? I can’t come at a later time because I have two horses at home that need my attention in the evening. I get that this new boarder works and is probably coming after work and is just bad luck it happens to be when I arrive. I really don’t know how this would work out if we all want to ride at the same time. This is more of a “get it off my chest.” Not really a vent because I’m in a quandary and not sure what my next move would be.

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I think you’re just out numbered. Do they leg their horses up by jogging laps or such? Could you jump while they warm up? Can you time their walk breaks with yours? IOW…have you talked to them directly about what might be possible?

Well, yes, of course you should bring it up with the barn owner, and I’d also like to know about the “other friends” and whether they are all boarders?

It seems to me that barrel racing is incompatible with other schooling and would require a schedule to make it work for all boarders. Otherwise, yes, I’d be really annoyed and complain loudly if the barn owner where I boarded a horse made a decision that precluded my ability to ride.

That said - I think you were lucky that you had a private arena for most of your schooling and don’t think that is typical. I would expect that you would have to share for the majority of the time, which might limit the times during which jumping is allowed.

How many total boarders and what are their disciplines? (I mean, if most people don’t jump you might be fighting an uphill battle).


The other folks are fellow boarders. It’s in the post but I had a read it a few times to catch it :wink:

Yes, the friends are also boarders but they usually rode earlier in the day when I wasn’t around. It wasn’t until new boarder arrived that they changed their schedule.

There are about 7 horses total. Three or four barrel racers, one dressage rider, and two eventers/jumper riders. The dressage rider has two horses there. There was a grid set up and they took it down and put up their barrels which they leave in place and don’t put away when done.

I don’t mind sharing as long as I’m not being pushed out because there are too many wanting to use the one place to ride at the same time but that is what’s happening.


They can’t need to run the barrel pattern every day just as you surely don’t need to set up jumps every day.

One idea is to coordinate so that everyone can get their schooling done. Set days when the barrels may be set up, other days when it’s jumps. This is assuming you are not the only jumping rider and are being seen as “taking over” the arena by everyone else!

But this will have to come from the barn owner. Everyone should ideally get the same amount of use out of the facilities they are paying for, but after work is premium time and may need to be scheduled.


They were out there two days in a row so far running the pattern. I was able to get in a short ride before they rode a couple of days ago. There are two of us that jump, in fact the other jumper rider’s father built the standards and brought in poles for us to use.

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BO has to set some rules and a schedule. Presumably there should be some opportunity for both jumps and barrels to be set and used without interference. Other times there should be opportunity to do flatwork, etc.

If they are unwilling to set a schedule and enforce it - I’d be looking to leave. What is the point of boarding where there is an arena if everyone can’t use it?


Neither jumpers or barrel racers should be actively practicing with props every day. That’s way too harsh on the horses. You should really only be jumping 2 or 3 days a week and I’m sure the same for barrels.

I would suggest 2 days for barrels, 2 days for jumps, and make one of those days a weekend and the other midweek. And set start and end times. 2 hours should be enough time to set up, practice and put the equipment away. That way everyone can know when to arrive and leave for their particular sport.

This will need to come from the barn owner. You should talk to them and give a sample schedule. You should also see whether this impacts the other riders times too.

If you can’t get a schedule that works for you, you can leave. But keep in mind that having an indoor arena to yourself in the after work hours especially in winter is an almost unheard of luxury at any boarding barn and you may find yourself riding around kiddie lessons or 8 hostile dressage divas who can barely control their 18 hand warmblood. Or nonstop jumping lessons. Etc.


Can the footing handle this? Usually barrel riders have very different footing than dressage or jumpers.

Maybe suggest a barn meeting?


If you’re talking about the barn I’m at, there are no lessons and no 8 hostile dressage divas :smile:

I only jump maybe 1 time a week tops. A lot of times, I just set ground poles and work over them as if they were jumps to practice striding and pace.

The footing isn’t the best, mostly it’s dirt but very deep in some spots and light in others. There is also a hole, well more of a low spot, at one point on the rail that is noticeable when riding. The BO has been made aware and tried to fix it once but it’s still there.

So, you not only want them to not use their barrels but you want less of them to actually ride when you want to ride? Am I reading that right?

I totally get how frustrating it is to have to share a small indoor arena.

If it is the props, then I agree with the above posters, set up a schedule. They get to use their props on Sunday and Wednesday, you get to use your props on Saturday and Tuesday. The rest of the time no props and you just get to share the space. No telling some people they can’t ride at a certain time because you want to. Figure a way to share the space, prop free.


No, my comments about lessons and divas was just to point out that if you go shopping for a new barn you are unlikely to find one where you get the indoor arena to yourself every day after work in prime time! There are many many ways to crowd a ring other than barrel racers!!


I don’t mind them wanting to run barrels but when they do it makes it impossible for others to ride around them. Two of them stand in the corner while the third runs the pattern. A schedule of using props would work so the other jumper rider and I would have our days and the barrel racers would have theirs. I know it’s not fair of me to tell them they can’t ride when I want to ride, I would never think to presume that, it has to be fair to all.

I know Scribbler, I was just joking with you.


Unfortunately, this is one the struggles of boarding. BTDT.

I think trying to set up a schedule for “your days” and “their days” is a great idea. If they aren’t open to the idea, you’re really just left with the option of discussing with the BO and hoping they side with you, or finding yourself a new barn.


Sounds like they need to enlarge the arena if 3 riders makes it crowded?

Can they set up the barrels in the inner part so you can school around the rail?

if they are schooling barrel racing horses and they are using a standard setup it takes up a sizable space…

60 feet from the starting line, called the scoreline, to the 1st or 2nd barrels. 90 feet between the first and second barrels. 105 feet from the 1st and 2nd barrels to the 3rd barrel


I’m familiar with barrel racing enough to totally sympathize with you. Even in a large pen aka arena it’s pretty much impossible to ride while someone is running the pattern. I’d rather share an arena with a giant group of up down beginners. I know for sure I’d get more done with them. Right wrong or indifferent, it not uncommon IME for barrel racers to work the pattern 90% of their rides. Perhaps truly UL riders and/or riders from different areas operate differently.

Frankly, I think your best bet is to alter your own regular ride time. I think that route has the highest probability of success


Our barn has a small indoor- 60x120, I think. During the winter, there is an arena schedule everyone can access online. The default is two riders at a time, but more are allowed if all mutually agreed. Something like that might work, so if OP is signed up for specific days and times, then only one other rider can sign up at that time. The main problem we have with this system is people putting in recurring ride times and then not showing up, which can be annoying for others who want to ride but think the arena is already spoken for. When my mare was on extended stall rest and completely explosive about anything, I signed up for an early AM slot and everyone else was notified that they could not share with me due to safety. I would never ask for that accommodation during prime after-work hours though.

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First off, I can’t believe the BO is allowing barrel racing in a multi-use arena in the first place. Barrel racing is really a sport where you need a dedicated arena designed for that; if not you are going to destroy your footing. Though of course, doesn’t sound like the footing was so good to begin with.

I agree you need to talk to the Barn manager about a schedule. At the very least the barrel racers need to be informing people when they plan on running, because trying to ride in an arena with someone practicing that is a hazard.