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Horse Riding Arenas

Horseback riding arena terms & exercises

Riding Arena Terms

Riding instructors use certain words to indicate the location in a riding arena, give the rider direction, and offer training exercises.

Learn some basic riding arena terms and practice learning the letter locations within an arena.

Centerline & Quarterline

Riding arena terms used to describe locations in an arena. The centerline is the line down the middle of the long side of an arena. The quarterline separates the arena into quarters and is halfway between the centerline and the long side.

horse riding arena terms

Riding Arena Terms

Inside: The side of the horse facing the inside of the arena.

Outside: The side of the horse closest to the outer part of the arena, also called the rail.

Change Rein: Change the direction of travel.

On the Rail: Along the outer rail or fence line of the arena.

Riding arena circles meters

Riding Circles

You may be asked to ride circles of a certain size. Common sizes include 10, 15, and 20 meters. A standard size dressage arena is 20 meters wide (65.5 feet).

Riding Arena Letters

Riding arena letters serve as a guide for riders and trainers.

Hunter, Jumper, Western, Dressage, and even pleasure riders often have these letters posted in standardized locations around arenas and even in grassy riding fields. Dressage tests are performed according to set tests that use these letters at marked locations for the rider to perform certain movements with the horse.

Dressage Arena Sizes

Dressage Arenas Can Be Small or Large.

These sizes are standardized and measure 20 x 40 meters for the small arena, and 20 x 60 meters for the large arena. Notice in the illustrations below the arena letters in the small arena are also in the same locations in the large arena. The large arena offers room for more letters and are often used in upper level dressage tests.

Small Riding Arena

letters large dressage arena

Large Riding Arena

Small Dressage Arena Letters Game

Drag and drop the letters into the correct location and check your answers.

Riding Arena Exercises

A riding instructor, clinician, or judge at a horse show may ask for certain movements to be performed by the rider.

arena exercise long diagonal

Long Diagonal

The long diagonal usually extends the entire length of the arena and offers a change of direction. Riding a long diagonal line can be used to show extended gaits or straightness.

arena exercise long diagonal

Full Arena Serpentine

A full arena serpentine allows the rider to practice changing the bend of the horse with straightness in between the change of bend.

arena exercise long diagonal

Spiral In & Out

A spiral in and out can begin as the full width of the arena or smaller and slowly move to a smaller circle and back out again with the horse moving off the outside and inside aides.

arena exercise long diagonal

Short Diagonal

Similar to a long diagonal, but does not extend the entire length of the arena. Offers a change of direction.

arena exercise long diagonal

Serpentine to Centerline

A serpentine to centerline, or half of the width of a riding arena, allows the rider to practice changing the bend of the horse.

arena exercise reverse circle

Reverse Within a Circle

A change of direction through an S curve within a circle.

arena exercise long diagonal

Half 10 Meter Circle

A half of a ten meter circle, or tear drop shape, can be used as a suppling and balance exercise for the horse and offers a change of direction.

arena exercise long diagonal

Figure Eight

A figure 8 can be ridden the full width of an arena or smaller. It offers a change of direction.

Riding Arena Terms Matching Game

Click the cards to turn them.
Match the name of the riding arena exercise with the correct image.

Arena Icon

Welcome to the Riding Arena Terms Quiz!

Your Name
What is the centerline in a riding arena?
Which movement do you not change direction in?
How wide is a standard dressage arena?
Why do some riding arenas have letters around them?
What does it mean to change rein?
How big is a 20 meter circle?

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