We have a new to us indoor arena. It has a riding space that is a bit bigger than TMR, with the main riding area sectioned off from the walls with stock panels. There is a area in the front with a propane heater, a couple of benches, and a hitching rack. There is also a radio and speakers in the arena, if you like to ride with music. At the far end, there is another stock panel wall about fifteen feet from the back of the arena. Those panels are covered with green tarps and behind them are a couple of tarp covered carts on one side, and jump standards, barrels and poles on the other. Somewhere in all of that lurks a horse eating monster. Seriously.
Ashke has taken to spooking, trying to bolt (this is where bitting up is a good thing), crowhopping, sideways leaping and sudden stopping. Last night, when he was behaving this way, we spent some time standing in the scary corner and waiting until he relaxed, then moving on with our work. Tonight, I was not so patient. I don't want to have to hold on for dear life as we canter around past that end of the arena every single time I ride.
Tonight, about twenty minutes into our ride, we were cantering circles around the arena. Every time we hit that end, Ashke misbehaved. I tried to do what Mark Rashid recommends, ignored it and kept focused on what I was working toward. That worked right up until the sixth time he tried to bolt out from under me and added some pogo-stick, crowhopping action. Then I snapped.
We did canter rollbacks back and forth across that end of the arena until knucklehead was so tired he didn't care if there was a bear hiding back there. Every time we rolled back, I turned him into the fence. He got really good at his stop-canter transition, which was less than a stride. It's a good thing I don't wear spurs, because I was using my heels to cue him into the canter and he was responding very quickly. He figured out pretty quick what I wanted and was trying very hard to please me. More importantly, the work kept him to busy to spook at the tarp wall.
Once he stopped spooking and was just looking to stop, I walked him out a circuit around the arena, then began to work on an exercise I saw on Gale's blog, I believe. It was from an app she was reviewing. We cantered down the length of the arena, slowing to a walk at the corner, which we did as a 90 degree angle. Then we would canter to the next corner. We did that exercise in both directions for four or so circuits around the arena. This is a great exercise and I can see going back to it.
Then we worked on the slalom poles. Ashke knows the pattern, but we are now working on our simple changes and maintaining control of our speed when we are doing precision work. We did the poles four or five times and then I could feel him beginning to struggle to maintain his balance around the turns.
It was enough. I rode for almost an hour, once he had walked himself cool, and he gave me great effort. He was over the silliness at the tarped end of the arena and I am convinced once he gets more accustomed to the environment he will be much happier in there. I really love the footing in this indoor. It's so much better than the eight inches of wet sand we were routinely dealing with at TMR. And it seems to be very dust free, which is also awesome.
Tomorrow, we will be back out on the trail. In the snow. Should be fun.