1. Look forwards.
It’s easy to get distracted by what’s immediately ahead of you, and by your horse itself. Make sure you’re focusing on the path ahead and that you know where you’re going.
2. Sit upright in the saddle.
New riders have a tendency to keep their bodies low and close to the horse. Try to be confident and ride with an erect back.
3. Heels down.
You might have heard this shouted by an instructor before. It doesn’t mean you should just pull your toes up; you need to adjust your weight so that your heels are lower than your toes.
4. Don’t put your feet too far into the stirrup.
This is a reasonable response for first time riders – they want to feel their feet safely lodged in. This can get your feet stuck if you fall off, and makes it harder for your to balance.
5. Your horse is not a machine.
Most riders start out because they love horses. Always remember that riding is about working with your horse, not forcing it to do what you want. If you work with this idea of mutual respect, you’ll learn faster and better.
6. Have your elbows at your side.
Another tendency for new riders it to lift their arms. You’ll have much more control and will be able to communicate with your horse better if you keep your arms at your side. This allows you to handle the reins better.
READ MORE: How much it costs to build an indoor arena.
Five Biggest Mistakes When Building a Horse Arena
If building a horse arena is costly, making mistakes in the process can be painfully costly. A horse arena is a major investment, and getting it right in the earliest planning stages will save you a lot of time, money and heartache. Take the following points into consideration if you’re planning to construct your own arena, and remember than one mistake made can often lead to others.
1. Location by nature, not by aesthetics.
Obviously, drainage is a problem that looms large in arena construction. It is important to locate your arena on a high point of the property; never choose a site that is at the base of hills, or in the path of runoff water. Working with nature rather than against it can cut the drainage battle in half, and will probably reduce the costs as well.
2. Drainage; Get it right the first time.
Water pooling on your arena will lead to a breakdown in expensive arena surface and sub-layers, and create an unstable riding environment. Make sure you design a proper, realistic drainage system based on location, the lie of the land, anticipated annual rainfall, soil type and your own sub-layers. There are a number of methods used for arenas, take the time to investigate which will work best with the above factors. Obviously, building a covered over horse arena will eliminate a lot of the drainage problems, so long as surrounding run-off is properly drained, the arena surface itself won’t have to stand up to downpours and sodden surfaces. Another big advantage of a covered arena is that you can collect and store the water at little cost and with huge lasting benefits.
3. Use the right materials.
It is absolutely essential to spend time and money to ensure you use materials that will work for your arena. There is no across the board ‘rule book’ for sub layers, as materials vary from region to region. Skimping on base layers or choosing the wrong materials can undo the ultimate effectiveness and quality of your arena in a wink. Have a good idea how you want to use the arena when choosing materials, so you can make sure you have the right amount of each layer, and that one layer won’t become too thin after compacting to be effective.
4. Top layer is crucial.
Ideally, a “perfect” riding surface should be cushioned to minimise concussion on horse legs, firm enough to provide traction, not too slick, not too dusty, not overly abrasive to horse hooves, inexpensive to obtain, and easy to maintain. There is a wide range of top fill products available on the market, both natural and commercially produced, and your selection will depend largely on your budget and intended arena use. It would probably pay to make use of some local knowledge, talk to the people who have already done what you are seeking to do.
You can extend the lifetime of your arena by practicing some simple TLC. Harrow the topping regularly to prevent it compacting too much. Removing manure will preserve the quality of your top layer. Watering regularly will keep the dust down, and likewise if the surface is sodden after heavy rain, leave it to dry up a bit before riding. Ongoing maintenance not only saves you time in the long run, but will also save you money in lengthening the time between construction and when your arena is due for a renovation. Once again, building an arena cover will extend the life of your arena a lot by not exposing it to the weather and preserving the surface and below layers.