Schooling in a small arena
Does anyone else have only a small area to school in? Where I am we don't have an actual arena, we have a sandy area that's about 20m x 30m (and one end is prone to flooding in the winter making the usable space even smaller). This makes it difficult to practice things like lengthening strides and counter canter as the "long" side isn't very long! But for me the positive is that if we can do something in a small space then it'll seem easy peasy in a proper arena. It also encourages me to really use my corners to give myself as much space as possible. Does anyone have any other tips for making the most of the space when schooling in a small arena?
Though there are a lot of holes in my riding education, lack of space isn't one of them so I can't give advice.
But I think you can always practice things like lengthening and counter canter while out on the trails. If your area has trail riding, that is.
You're absolutely right about the fact that after dealing with your tiny space, a normal dressage ground seems quite airy. The effect on jumpers is reversed (50 X 80 versus 20 X 60), so you kind of have a competitive edge.
I only have a 22m round pen, but do lots in it.
I make sure I do about 100 transitions each schooling session, great for doing half circles, and pole work, I put poles on both the outside and also down the centre. You can leg yield up to the centre line then back.
You can use poles to get your horse to lengthen its strides.
So much you can do even in a small space.
Thanks guys! Yes, I think I just need to be a bit more creative, I was spoiled at my last yard with a big outdoor arena and huge indoor school so what I have now initially felt TINY! But I'm getting used to it and it is making me think more about my schooling sessions so I think it will benefit me in the long run!
I actually find smaller arenas both benefit and hinder my performance.
The smaller space really means that I have to be in the ball. I use my corners, ride lots of transitions, and I have to keep the horse together to maintain the balance in a smaller area.
When I go into a larger arena, it's nice to have all the space, but I then become sloppy and allow my horse to run onto the forehand, when instead I could do with a wall to make me sit up and keep it together.
When trying to do lengthened strides, I would round off the corners and do an arc from A to C, just touching the track for a few straighter strides at the imaginary B/E point. The slight curve will encourage more engagement in the lengthen strides and prevent the horse from falling on his forehand. You could ride deep into the corner before A to prepare, the push forward on the arc A-C, and then ride deep into the corner after passing C to help bring him back again.
Just a thought. Not sure if that helps.
I'm just here for the free book! (...and I won one!)