wikiHow to Follow Arena Etiquette While Horseback Riding

Three Methods:Entering and Exiting the ArenaRiding in the Arena RespectfullyFollowing Arena Etiquette While Showing

Unless you're lucky enough to have your own arena at home, you'll have to share the arena you ride in with other riders. You must be alert for other riders and their horses and obey a certain set of rules to keep everyone safe. There are many rules, both written and unwritten, for riding in an arena with others. These guidelines make sure that everyone has the same expectations and can ride together without too much stress and uncertainty.

Method 1
Entering and Exiting the Arena

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    Put on your helmet. If you’re in the arena, you should be wearing a helmet. Even if you are not mounted or even planning on riding, your presence in the arena requires a helmet.
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    Mount outside the arena or in the middle of the arena. You should not mount where you will be in another rider’s way. Mount outside the ring and then walk into the ring on your horse. You can also walk your horse into the middle of the ring (where there is usually less traffic) and mount. Some rings also have designated mounting blocks in a specific place.[1]
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    Adjust your stirrups and/or girth either from the ground or in the middle of the arena. If you need to adjust your girth or your stirrups, always do so in a place that is not blocking other riders. Try to be fairly quick about adjusting your girth and stirrups.[2]
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    Go with the current direction. If you walk into the arena and most horses are travelling to the left, travel to the left with them. It is easiest for all parties involved if you mostly go with the flow of traffic. [3]
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    Give right of way to people on horses when you are on foot. If you are walking your horse in or out of the arena, be cognizant of people riding around you. Wait for a break in traffic before you cross the track to leave the arena.
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    Close the gate behind you. Whether you are entering or exiting the arena, make sure that you close the gate behind you. You may need to dismount to do this.[4]

Method 2
Riding in the Arena Respectfully

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    Let faster horses travel on the outside of the track. If you are walking or trotting, let cantering and galloping horses travel on the outside track, closest to the fence. However, if they are jumping in the center of the arena, you should probably remain on the outside track if you are walking.[5]
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    Always pass “left to left.” The “left to left” rule applies when you are travelling around the ring in a different direction than someone else. If you are facing another rider head-on, you should pass such that your left shoulder is closest to their left shoulder. In other words, if you see an oncoming rider, go to your right side of that person.[6]
    • Someone may override this rule in the ring by calling, “Rail!” Be aware of this possibility and always keep an eye on your surroundings.
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    Pass other horses on the inside. If you need to pass a horse that’s travelling more slowly than you are, pass the horse on the inside. In other words, do not go between the fence and the other horse. Go to the left of the slower horse, closer to the middle of the ring.
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    Give only quiet commands to your horse. Many horses could get spooked or upset if you yell at your horse, smack your horse loudly with the whip, or give wild hand gestures in an effort to get your horse to move. Be quiet and respectful when giving commands to your horse. Do not yell or make loud noises.[7]
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    Be prepared for an emergency. Always be aware of your surroundings. If another rider falls off their horse, dismount immediately and hold your horse, trying to keep him calm. Know where the first aid kit is.[8]
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    Maintain a safe distance from other horses. You should be at least one horse length away from any other horse at all times when you’re in the arena. Other horses can become upset if you pass too close to them. Horses can also kick pretty far out to the side and behind them. Keep a safe distance away from other horses while you’re in the arena.[9]
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    Let other riders know where you are going. This applies especially in situations where you might be jumping or turning unexpectedly. If you are going to jump over a cross-rail in the arena, yell, “Red crossrail!” Be specific, loud, and clear. You can also say, “On your inside!” to a rider you’re passing.[10]

Method 3
Following Arena Etiquette While Showing

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    Know the rules. Each discipline and each barn has different rules about the show arena. Look up the specific rules of the horse show you’re attending. Be aware of what other riders are doing and how it differs from your home barn. If you have a question, ask. It’s safer to ask than to assume.
    • For example, many barns have a rule where you need to let riders know that you're coming into the arena by saying "Door" or "Coming in!"
    • Many barns also have rules where you can't be on your cell phone while you're riding.
    • Dogs are also prohibited at many barns because they can spook the horses.
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    Do not enter the warmup ring unless you are competing. The only people in the warmup ring at a show should be the people who are competing. Do not bring your horse into the warmup ring if he is not competing, even if you are and are riding a different horse.[11]
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    Do not allow your trainer to come into the ring with you. Your trainer should be on the outside of the ring, giving you directions. However, do not stop on the rail to talk to your trainer. Other people may be riding in the ring, and you should try not to be disruptive.[12]
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    Make sure your horse and your horse are wearing numbers. You should always have your number displayed at a show. Some shows require numbers for both horse and rider, but some only require one. Make sure that you know the rules and obey them.

Tips

  • Always remain aware and use your best judgment when riding and showing.
  • If you stop, look behind you first. If you want to stop your horse, go to the middle of the arena or at least away from other people.[13]

Warnings

  • Keep your dog away from the arena. It could spook a horse or a rider.
  • Do not use your cell phone while riding!
  • If you need to lunge your horse, be careful that he doesn’t spook other horses and is well-behaved. If not, bring him to a smaller pen where he can be alone.

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