What If Your Arena Isn’t Big Enough

In a perfect world, we all have a facility that meets our requirements to train our horses year-round. Reality is far from perfect, though. I’ve been there myself, some of the situations and conditions I’ve had to train horses out of throughout my career were far from desirable, but I found a way to get the job done. I’m thankful for those experiences because they made me a better horseman and deepened my appreciation for the facilities I have today.

If you find yourself having to train your horse in less-than-ideal conditions, whether that’s at your own place or at a location you haul your horse to, here’s the good news – you can train your horse through the Method and do a great job. When I started out, all I had was a roundpen and miles of dirt roads to train my horses.

The best horsemen in the world don’t necessarily have the best training facilities; they just learn how to make the best of any situation. Ian Francis taught me early on that your imagination is your greatest asset as a horseman, and he’s absolutely right.

I hear three excuses from people about why they can’t follow the Method or aren’t making progress with their horses and how they can be overcome. Here’s excuse number two and how to overcome it.

#2 Your Arena Isn’t Big Enough
If you were to tell me that you were building an arena and wanted to know what size to make it, I’d recommend building one that is 125 feet wide by 250 feet long. That is a good universal size for an arena that allows you to do just about any discipline in it.

The golden rule to follow when building an arena is to make the length double the width. The reason behind that is if the width isn’t longer than the length, when you work on circles, your circles will end up being more oval in shape. That’s not a deal breaker, but if you’re investing in an arena, you might as well do it right.

With that being said, you do not need a large arena to effectively train your horse. In fact, with a little creativity, you can accomplish nearly all the exercises in the Method in a 100-foot by 100-foot space. Training a horse isn’t about space, it’s about being effective with the amount of space you have.

When I filmed the Arizona Desert Adventure Series that is available to No Worries Club members, my goal was to provide examples of how you can take your horse through the Method, from a green colt to an advanced horse, and the type of exercises you can do. In the third part of the series, I work with Goose, a horse I showed at the 2018 NRHA Futurity. In a relatively small dirt area, with no arena fences or special footing, I work on a variety of exercises with Goose including spins, lead changes, stops and backing up.

It’s like what my mentor Ian Francis always told me: Your imagination is your greatest tool as a horseman. That means you are only limited on what you can accomplish with your horse by your creativity.