Monday, December 23, 2013

SNOW DAY! (or slush, or sleet, or something day)

In our neck of the woods snow is very exciting.  The news talks about it for days before, during and after any actual potential snow. 

Last week there was lots of talk and chatter and then on Friday finally there was snow. At least two whole inches of snow. 

Because it's a rarity, I adore snow when it shows up locally.  I feel like a school kid and every time I wake up at night I peek outside to see if the snow has actually happened, and for some inexplicable reason when it does snow I compulsively check school closures even through I am decidedly not in school, nor is anyone else in my household.

The part of me that spent the better part of 10 years on the East Coast scoffs at Seattle's Snow Freak Outs.  It's not that I can't drive in the 2" of snow, it is more that if everyone else is going to freak out and call a snow day, I am making tea, grabbing a book and hopping on that cozy bandwagon.

So I did.  Friday was officially a Snow Day, and I canceled my morning lesson.  Of course, by 2pm the snow had turned to rain and most everything was washed away, but that was not the point. 

SNOW DAY was the point.  We had a snow day.
Praie enjoying her somewhat snowy field
After said snow day, the barn officially decided to settle into it's seasonal mud pit status.  Pastures are a mess, walkways are a mess.  Prair is a mess.  Everything is a mess.

But that's what we get in our neck of the woods so the griping should be relatively limited.

Aside from looking like a Swamp Creature, Prair's lovely streak continues.  Her only major loss of points this weekend came from the fact that she is currently digging-to-china in her paddock and snacking on red dirt and roots.  This dirt stains/covers her beak in a lovely red mud which she promptly smears on everything.  Me.  Tack.  Walls.  Small children... everything.  It's gross.

The only other downside to the weekend was I think I potentially pissed off/was mean to one of our other boarders.  She's not in S's program, and is a very green rider with a very green horse who I think is barely broke for groundwork and maybe goes under saddle for a trainer, but maybe not yet, can't be certain.

The conflict arose when S took a small kid on a small pony into the indoor for a lesson at the same time I was walking in to ride Prairie.  Said other boarder was in the ring with green horse attempting to lunge. I say attempt because it was not a super safe/consistent lunging effort.  The horse didn't want to stay on a circle... and was sometimes rearing/twisting and for the most part was just unpredictable.

At some point she pulled in her line, so I started to use the whole arena (I work around other folks, but if you pull in your line, I'll use that opportunity to get off my 20m circle at one end).

She then asked if she could "have" one end of the ring to keep lunging for another 20 min or so (this is a 20x40m ring folks) and I pointed out that technically, lunging is not allowed in the indoor with other people.  If it's empty, you can lunge.  If there are lessons or other riders (or in this case both), you have to head outside to the round pen, or the larger outdoor ring (again, deferring to lessons and other riders). 

She looked confused and I think is actually green enough to not understand why her lunging was a bad idea with a 3 year old on a pony and another horse in the ring.  I get it, it was drizzly, and gross, and there was a reason everyone wanted to be inside, so I understood why she didn't want to go someplace else and I felt like an ass for being the one to not defer to her request - but even taking me out of the equation, trying to lunge a wild thang with a tiny kid (who did slide off the pony at one point) is not (in my mind) smart horsemanship. 

Anyway, I got a serious eye roll and exasperated sigh, which made me feel like crap, but oh well. 

Usually I abide by a first-come-first-serve theory of working around other folks and their exercises/jumps/lesson/whatever. But in this case I felt moderately justified in pointing to the barn rules and being a brat.

I know most training barns have pretty strict rules about lunging (when, where, how) but most open boarding barns tend to be less rigid.  Ours is a strange combo where about half the boarders are in S' program, but the other half are scattered amongst other trainers, or board and ride independently. 

What do your barns say about lunging in arenas/priority for use of rings? I'm moderately curious.

This is a funny week for rides with the Holiday and all, but we'll do our best and come Friday, Prair moves to her new digs! 


  1. At my old barn if you wanted to lunge when people were riding you needed to ask if it was okay and if it was more than 1 person I usually wouldn't lunge anyways. There isn't really a policy on it at my current barn as we don't have a round pen or area designated for lunging. We all just try to he courteous of eachother. There are only 8 or us though and we all have fairly different schedules so it's rarely an issue. :) glad prair has continued to he good!

    1. That's exactly how it was at my old barn too, though that ring was significantly larger, so one person lunging still left a "reasonable" amount of ring to work with, even for a couple folks...

      In our indoor now if someone lunges you are literally stuck on a 20m circle of your own, which I can work with for a while, but it's a bit absurd with more than one person (or say a 11h pony and a 17h Prairie).

  2. At my old barn (a busy dressage barn in Indiana), there would sometimes be 2-3 people lunging in the center of the ring, and 4,5, 6 + horses working under saddle. It was busy and chaotic. But we all learned to work around one another. I agree, though, that if you have a smaller indoor that people should be courteous about lunging. Especially if your horse can be squirrley.

  3. This is the time of year Val does extensive paddock excavations, as well as exposing and consuming roots. No mud - just clean sand - lucky for me.

    Not as strange as I thought... ;D

  4. I board at a show barn that is also has a lot of lessons kids as well. There are three arenas, but only on indoor, and while it's big, things can get cramped. We are allowed to lunge with riders, but you always have to ask whether or not they mind first and with lesson kids most know the smartest thing would probably not to lunge though. I guess when it comes down to it, most people at my barn are smart and respectful and understand that if your horse is a jerk on the lunge line, you should probably wait until the arena is empty!

  5. I've been lucky to enjoy covered round pen longing but personally would not do it in a ring with others. If I'm longing it's because I have a very fresh horse and I don't think bringing that behavior into a ring with others is super safe!

  6. My barn is groundwork obsessed so lunging is encouraged. I've seen four people in the arena lunging at the same time, one in each corner, while a person somehow managed to ride around this.

    For my part, I agree with you. I would never ever ever keep lunging a crazy horse with a child on a pony. If it had been an adult riding (say, just you), I may be more inclined to keep going, but not if I could just as easily go to another arena. Right now, we just have our indoor available because snow is not so lovely here. Even then, when my horse is feeling crazy, I won't lunge him full out with only one other person in the arena because I think it's rude. Horses are unpredictable, and I don't want to be responsible if by some chance he gets away from me. Keep the crazy to yourself!

    1. My old place (and our outdoor) could easily accommodate that much activity going on safely (assuming all the horses and riders were capable).

      I think the issue is definitely safety - but also consideration when the ring is micro-sized and there's no way for anyone to work on the rail while you have a horse on the line.

  7. Luckily we are at a smaller barn where everyone knows eachother well and everyone is super accommodating. Not many people lunge anymore but occasionally when we do they ask where the riders want them and then keep them off the rail so that the riders can still use the whole arena.

  8. At my old barn, lunging was allowed as long as your horse could stay on a circle and wasn't interfering with an ongoing lesson; same for riders not riding in that lesson. Lungers and other riders stayed out of the way of a lesson, or were more than willing to move if the lesson was jumping a course and needed some extra space. Sounds like you made the right call (politely) reminding her about the written/unwritten rules of horsemanship! I would have done the exact same thing :)

  9. At my new barn we only lunge in one of the less used paddocks, because our rings a tad on the small side. At old barns of mine it was always assess the situation, if theres a beginner riding you go somewhere else, and then ask.

    There'll always be a little drama in barns, but it seems like you were just trying to do the right thing! I wouldn't worry about it :-)

  10. Lunging in our indoor is pretty much only for the days when the round pen is too sloppy for such work, or is occupied and there is no one (or no one who cares) in the indoor. Of course the 'natural horsemanship' people seem to get around this by chasing their horses around on long leads, until they accomplish whatever on earth they are trying to do, or my trainer asks them to quit because they are spooking all of our horses.

    You maybe could have left out the eye roll (although I find those are pretty hard to contain at times) but it was right for you to speak up!

    1. agree, thankfully our roundpen is almost always serviceable and drains really well. I think she maybe didn't even know it was there?

      Also, the eyeroll was hers not mine ;) I was trying super hard to be polite about it while still being "firm-ish" regarding arena use.

  11. At my barn, riders (especially lessons) have the right of way and no lunging is permitted when riders are mounted. However, I am very, very lucky in that we have two indoor arenas, so usually the smaller of the two is open for turnout/lunging.

  12. Hmm lunging policy at my barn - well I'll start off by holding my hands up and admitting I am spoiled rotten with the facilities where I board my girls. There are 3 indoors, an outdoor & a smaller lunging arena where two can be lunged comfortably.
    1 of the indoors (the largest) can NEVER be used for lunging, the oldest indoor is often used for riding school lessons and is reserved for them when scheduled so no lunging or riding there till after 8pm most evenings. Other indoor & outdoor are first come first serve although as others have said common curtesy & politeness truly do help - sadly sometimes neither are in abundant supply, but those days are thankfully few & far between

  13. You did the right thing, but it is too bad that the other person didn't get the memo. My barn is small, so overlapping activities is not usually a probable. If I ride during a lesson I always give the student the right of way and pay attention to the instructor so that I stay out of their line of travel.

  14. Our barn rules are that lunging can only happen when no other riders are present or you ask their permission, each and every time. One yes does not mean it will be ok every time it co-occurs in the future. However, we have one individual who thinks he owns the place and I've had lunging issues with him before. I've learned to assert myself as positively as possible.


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