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Arena Etiquiette and Safety

Riding Safely in an Arena or Ring


Riders in an arena.

These young riders are keeping a good distance away from each other and are being mindful of what other riders are doing. The photo was taken from the observation area, out of the way of the riders.

2005 K. Blocksdorf
Riding in an arena may be your only option during bad weather, or it's a convenient place to school your horse with a minimum of distractions. In any case, do your part to make riding with other's fun and safe.


  • Left shoulder to Left Shoulder: Riders should try to ride in the same direction. If this isn't possible, then the left shoulder to left shoulder rule should apply. (Some European countries ride right shoulder to right shoulder.)

  • Slow on the Inside, Fast on the Outside: Slower riders should ride on the inside track, including those doing schooling such as lateral work etc… Riders working at a faster pace such as a lope or canter should stay on the outside track.

  • Announce Your Intentions: Tell the other riders what you plan to do: "passing on your left", "jumping fence three", "leaving arena", "entering arena".

  • No Lunging: No lunging while riding.

  • Mount Out of the Way: mount and dismount in the center--not on the track.

  • Work Together: Users should be doing similar things: i.e. jumping, flat work, if at all possible. And even though the rule is left shoulder to left shoulder understand it isn't always possible. Be generous with right-of-way

  • Cue Quietly: Voice commands, kissing, smooching to cue your horse should be done quietly and away from other horses. Accidentally cueing another person's horse as you ride along side them could cause problems.

  • Try Not to Interrupt Lessons: Try to schedule your riding for times when the arena is not being used for lessons. If you must ride during a lesson try to be unobtrusive.

  • Clean Up: Clean up the arena after use. Clear out manure, put away jumps, trotting poles or pylons. Leave it the way you found it or better.

  • Follow Posted Rules: Most arena owners have rules posted. Follow them.


  • Keep A Horse Length Between: Don't crowd other riders and keep at least a horse's length between you and the horse in front of you. This keeps you at a safe distance from being kicked. Furthermore, when there are riders working on both the inside and outside track, leave enough passing room that one horse isn't able to bite or kick at the horse on the other track.

  • No Smoking: Smoking in an arena or stable is a dangerous fire hazard.

  • All Horses Under Control: There should be no loose horses in the arena while others are riding.

  • In Case of Emergency: Know where the nearest phone and emergency number and first-aid kit are.

  • Don't Allow Escapes: Keep all doors or gates closed. A horse could bolt through an open door into a low-ceilinged stable or down a lane way and cause injury.

  • Be Aware: Be respectful if another is having problems with a horse, is riding a young horse, or is a beginner or timid rider.

  • Give Right of Way: Be generous, giving right of way even it if it is not technically the correct right of way.

  • Don't Ride Alone: Ride, especially when jumping, with a buddy.

  • Don't Get Caught in the Dark: Stormy weather at night can cause electrical outages. Some types of arena lightening can take a long time to come on once the power has gone out, leaving you in the dark.

  • Always Ride Safe: Wear a helmet and proper boots, and ride in control.

  • Don't Get in the Way: Spectators should stand outside the arena, not along side the track.

  • Invite the Dogs After the Ride: No dogs in the arena with horses and riders. Most stable owners don't welcome other people's dogs anyway.

  • Warn of Noisy Doors: Announce if you are going to open a sliding door as some horses might spook at the noise. Give riders a chance to prepare.

  • Ice and Snow Hazards: Be aware that if there is snow or ice on the roof, it often slides down making a scary noise. Some horses may spook at this.

  • In an Emergency Get Off: If a rider falls off and a horse gets loose, all riders should dismount.

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