Arena Etiquette

One of my biggest pet peeves is people riding every different direction in the warmup pen. I have ridden in many warm-up pens of various disciplines in the western world, from cutting and reining to barrel racing and gymkhana and it seems to be all the same. Everyone is riding in whichever direction they please.

This is dangerous and I have seen some bad wrecks because of it. Fortunately, not at the gymkhanas, but we need to teach our kids proper arena etiquette and that starts with us as adults.

If you enter the arena and other riders are already riding, go the same direction as the current riders. If directions need to be changed, call it out and have everyone change at the same time. Slow riders should be on the inside of the circle giving the faster riders the rail or outside of the arena.

If you must go in the opposite direction of other riders, the rule of thumb is passing left shoulder to left shoulder or call out something like “Outside” or “Inside”. If the warmup pen is big enough, you can split the arena and ride two smaller circles that go opposite directions. 

Final rule, please look behind you before you stop your horse to make sure you will not be in someone else’s way and if you must do a rollback make sure no one is behind you.

It is your responsibility, in the warmup pen, to be aware of your surroundings and control your horse. You can only control you, but if we are all aware of what is going on around us, the warmup pen will be a much safer place for our littles, our bigs and our horses.

Teach your children about arena etiquette and please don’t hog the arena by bunching up in groups to socialize.




  1. Jill

    Good read and I totally agree, it’s super dangerous for both horse and rider!! I’m doing my best to tech my kids right wen they’re in the warm up. Just like driving; it’s the other ppl I worry about!

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