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The ABCs of Riding Arena Etiquette

The lost art of ring manners

Horse Riding Arena Rules Explained

While some riders are part of large programs where sharing the ring is done on a daily basis, others have never ridden with more than one or two other riders. Fast forward to the horse show. A crowded schooling area with hunters, jumpers and beginner pony kids….utter chaos!

For those who have not been taught the proper ways to navigate traffic at home, this scenario can be dangerous. But for those with a sense of ring etiquette, they can easily maneuver the crowds by remembering a few simple rules.

Pass Left Hand to Left Hand

When riding together in an arena, try to ride in the same direction as the other riders. If this isn’t possible then pass left hand to left hand.

Share the Arena

Riders tracking left should always stay on the rail or the outside track.

Riders tracking right are the “passers” and should travel to the inside track around others who are coming head on.

Click the green flag and move your cursor or finger, if using a touch screen, to see the horses move around each other.

Left hand to left hand

Rules of the Road

Pass Left Hand to Left Hand just like driving a car in the USA.

Don’t Allow for a Great Escape

Close all doors and gates closed. A horse could bolt through an open gate and escape.

Many schooling areas and show rings may not have a gate that can be closed – try to position parents or trainers to block these open areas, especially in the case of less experienced riders!

Don't ride alone

Don’t Ride Alone

Always ride with a buddy when possible.

If riding with company is not possible, alert someone via text or phone call with you mount and dismount so someone knows that you are riding and have safely finished.

Don’t ever jump alone or without supervision!

Don’t Interrupt Lessons

If flatting or riding while a lesson is in progress, give priority to riders in the lesson.

Be Courteous & Communicate Your Intentions

When walking or cooling down, find an area where you are out of the way of riders who are schooling.

Be upfront about your intentions! Don’t be afraid to announce where you are traveling i.e. “Inside!” “Outside!”

Do not stop, dismount or mount around traffic.

If you must stop in a busy schooling area, find somewhere toward the center or next to a jump that is safe to pull up and will not disrupt other working riders.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

It is the responsibility of the more capable and advanced riders to navigate around the less skilled

Remember that small children on ponies lack the steering capabilities that more experienced riders do! Give them ample space, shorten your turns and stay toward the center of the arena to give them a safe area on the rail.

In An Emergency, Always Stop

If another rider falls off or a horse gets loose, all other riders must stop.

In certain situations, especially if a rider is endangered by being mounted on their own horse, it is appropriate to dismount!

Keep a Safe Distance Between Horses

Try to keep at least a horse distance between you and other horses, and especially if the horse in front of you has a ribbon in its tail.

Safe Distance Tips

Keep a horse length in between yourself and others.

Don’t crowd other riders and horses.

Keep at least one-horse length in between you and the next horse to avoid being in the range where you could be kicked.

Leave enough passing room from a horse on the rail to avoid being close enough to be kicked or bitten by another horse.

Horse Tail Ribbon Colors Explained

The colors of a tail ribbons on a horse have specific meanings, and let the other riders know about potential problems, or if the horse is for sale.

If a horse is wearing a certain ribbon in their tail, it can be an indication of certain behaviors.

Red Ribbon

A red ribbon is the most commonly worn and indicates a horse that may kick.

These are used most frequently in beginner ponies to warn other beginner riders who may not be competent at steering.

Blue Ribbon

Horse may be aggressive.

Yellow Ribbon

The horse is a stallion.

Green Ribbon

Horse is young or inexperienced.

Pink Ribbon

Mare is in heat.

White Ribbon

Horse is for sale.

Be Aware of the Body Language of Other Horses

If other horses seem tense or nervous, try to be extra mindful of their space and avoid riding near them.

spooking horse illustration
Don't ride alone

Riding Arena Etiquette Quiz

Take the Horse Riding Arena Etiquette Quiz

Welcome to the Riding Arena Etiquette Quiz!

Enter your name and answer the questions below.

Name
How should you pass someone when riding in opposite directions?
When traveling in the same direction, how much distance should be between you and the other horses in the arena?
What should you do if someone falls off?
Why should we keep riding arena gates closed while riding?
Should you ride alone?
What does it mean if a pony has a red ribbon in its tail?
Should you interrupt your trainer when he/she is teaching another student?

Leaderboard for the Riding Arena Etiquette Quiz

1. SarahBoo - 100%
2. Sam - 100%
3. Binkus - 85%
4. ahh - 85%
5. Jeanna - 71%

Arena Manners Matching Game

Match the arena rule with the matching image.

Horse Tail Ribbon Color Matching Game

Drag the ribbon to the matching horse