Rain, mud, wind and fewer daylight hours are a combination of conditions sure to put a stop to any eventer’s competitive efforts, but what if I told you that you could still experience the thrills of your favourite discipline, even when the elements are against you? The answer, as you’ve probably already guessed, is arena eventing.
Not just for eventers, it’s the perfect solution for riders looking to revamp their riding routine or dip a toe into a new discipline. Whatever your reason for this new endeavour, it’s the perfect way to inject some fun into your training. And, by giving your horse a carefully-considered introduction – that actually translates well to whatever new endeavour you wish to undertake with him – you’ll be ready for the season to come in no time.
About arena eventing
Combining rustic eventing-style obstacles with the reliability of an all-weather showjumping surface, arena eventing offers plenty of perks after a long season of worrying whether the going will be too hard, too soft or just right. However, before embarking on your new adventure, you’ll need to get some hours of schooling at a designated venue under your belt to introduce your horse to the different styles of jumps he might come across. Set out similarly to a showjumping course, you’ll get more than your money’s worth when it comes to variety of jumps, without the required level of stamina you’d need for on-the-course training at a true cross-country venue.
It goes without saying that to jump well, your horse has to warm up well, but remember that his routine shouldn’t necessarily mimic the one you have at home simply because you’re in an arena. Adapt to how he feels on the day, but make sure you’ve given him plenty of time to take in what’s around him, where the jumps are and what they look like, especially if you’re in a new location. This isn’t an excuse to amble, though, so ensure he’s working in a purposeful trot and canter while he does so.
What you find at a designated arena eventing venue is likely to be at least a few times larger than your livery yard’s manège. The combination of this and the excitement of a new venue is sure to spark some enthusiasm, so you’ll need to spend time learning to embrace the extra energy rather than fighting it. Only once your horse is truly settled should you come to a fence – even when the height’s kept low, if your horse is distracted to the point he only sees the jump at the last minute, you’re unlikely to yield a positive result.
For more top tips on getting out arena eventing from pro rider Gemma Tattersall, pick up a copy of November Horse&Rider, on sale 17 September.