Ahhh, the always calming schooling ring. A place for horse and rider to warm up quietly and prepare to compete in a stress free environment... Sounds peaceful, doesn't it? If only it were actually like that! Schooling arenas are more like a mad house. over crowded, over faced riders, at least one horse freaking out, watch out for the horse that kicks, "oh that's a jump, I thought it was a hitching post", trainers yelling, and the.inevitable rider day dreaming of all the ribbons she will bring home (inevitably because she's cut you off 15 times without even noticing). Hopefully this list of schooling ring etiquette will help settle things down. First and foremost, I want to point out it is the trainers responsibility to teach their students the rules of the road, but it is the responsibility of the rider to make the right decisions at the right times.
Rule number one: LEFT SHOULDER TO LEFT SHOULDER. When you are going to opposite direction as an oncoming rider, you pass them left shoulder to left shoulder.
2: Jumpers have the right of way, same goes for the barrel racer actually working the pattern. This is the only exception to the left to left rule as the jumper should always take the inside.
3: If you are walking to warm up or cool down, stay against the rail, going to the left.
4: Never, ever, ever pass someone from behind by going between their horse and the rail. Thats a good way to get yourself squished, kicked, or thrown.
5: When passing someone from behind, say "Inside" loud enough so they know you're coming. A horse.running up next to another horse can be very scarey for both horse and rider
.6: Do. Not. Park. Infront. Of. The. Jump. If you have to stop to talk to your trainer, pick a spot out of the way, or leave the arena.
7: Always call your jumps. "Heads Up Oxer!" can literally save your life. Even then, always pay attention to what's going on around you. Just because you're doing your job, doesnt mean the other riders are doing their job.
8: If a rider falls off their horse, bring.your horse to a halt. If their horse takes off, it is best to dismount until their horse is caught.
9: Don't be a jump hog. If you're schooling in the actual show ring, don't dismantle the jumps. If you're in a schooling ring with only two or three jumps, you get one. Don't have a ground person? Other trainers are typically more than happy to share. Just remember, you are then riding under their rules. If they are ready for a bigger jump for their students, its not polite to ask them to keep it small for.you.
10: Get in, Get out. If you need to wear your horses energy level down, a crowded schooling arena probably isn't the best choice. Find a place you can ride, and only use the schooling.area to warm up before entering the show ring.
11: Be prepared. South Coast horses regularly go on trail rides off the property, and go to Playdays and open arenas to get used to hectic environments. Just like with any training, don't set your horse up for failure. If you've got a hot greenie, take him everywhere you can. Even if you just rent a stall or leave him at the trailer to hang out, you want your horse to be comfortable.
Feel free to add your own tips and rules! Stay safe out there!
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