Home Tips For Riders 6 Ways To Use A Small Arena

6 Ways To Use A Small Arena

by ihearthorses

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Are you challenged with a small riding arena? Small riding arenas may seem restrictive, but there’s actually a lot that you can do with them. Give these tips a try.

Ride Into Your Corners

Riding your horse well up into the arena corners can instantly make a small arena feel larger. Focus on asking your horse to move laterally off of your leg so that he travels further up into each arena corner. You can also work on circling into the arena corners to better develop your control of your horse’s body. Make sure that your horse doesn’t overbend too much in the corners, and make sure that you support him with your outside leg and outside rein.


Serpentines are great exercises for small arenas. Serpentine your way up and down your arena. As you ride, pick a point on the opposite fence and ride straight to it before turning. This is a great way to work on traveling in a straight line and communicating accurately with your horse.

Use Ground Poles

There are tons of exercises that you can do with ground poles. Use ground poles to regulate your horse’s stride, to side pass over, or to help with clean canter departures. Ground poles can help to break up your routine and provide additional challenge for your training rides.

Work on Transitions

Image source: Nikki via Flickr

Image source: Nikki via Flickr

Small arenas can be ideal for working on gait transitions. Focus on performing smooth, collected transitions – both upward and downward – between your horse’s gaits. Transitions can quickly identify weaknesses in your riding or in your horse’s training. By spending the time to work on smooth transitions with your horse, you can also increase your chances of success in the show ring.

Develop Balance

A small arena is a blessing in disguise when it comes to developing a young or untrained horse’s balance. Work with your horse at the walk and trot first as he learns to carry and support himself around corners and on circles. Gradually progress to the canter as your horse develops his balance. Make sure that you stay centered in the saddle, too, and if your horse rushes or feels unbalanced, then go back to slower gaits to further develop him.

Do Groundwork

There’s plenty of room in a small arena to do some groundwork with your horse. Groundwork is an excellent tool for developing a training foundation and for building your relationship with your horse.

If you ride in a small arena, then consider putting these tips to use to make the most of the small space.

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