Booking Arena Time

I teach at numerous yards, and right from the beginning of my self employed career I decided that my clients needed to be responsible for ensuring that we had somewhere to ride as I didn’t want to have to liaise with half a dozen yard managers. 

It’s been interesting to observe different yard rules, and how they try to ensure liveries are kept happy.

One yard has a white board where liveries write their name in the time slots to book the arena out. This means that others can check if they can ride in the arena or not. I have heard of people rubbing others off the board at other yards, but I think this reflects badly on the people, not the system.

Another yard has the rule “no lessons between 4 and 7 on weekdays”. Now this leads to antisocial teaching hours for instructors, but when I thought about it, many people now work weekends and shift work, so they can organise lessons during the day in the week. It is a sensible rule for a yard of adults with limited arena space as it means everyone can exercise their horses after work.

Other yards just seem to muddle along, with the person having the lesson sharing the arena, yet having priority. This is usually pretty straightforward for an instructor to adapt their lesson content, but it does require sensible riders who are aware of the rules of the school. Flat lessons are more easily adapted to a shared arena.

Then of course is the case of paying for hiring the arena. For some yards livery bills are broken down into “stable/grass livery” and “arena use” which means that retired or happy hackers save £50 a month. Others include arena use in the standard fee. Then some yards charge extra to hire the arena for a lesson, whilst others feel that you’ve already paid to use the arena in your monthly bill.

I still haven’t worked out the best approach to booking out arenas but I do know that ….

A) everyone wants to know if there has been a booking so they don’t plan to ride at 2pm only to find the arena is full.

B) if there is an extra charge for hiring out the arena then people want to feel that they have the space to themselves and all the facilities, such as jumps, are available for use.

C) liveries who don’t have lessons  still want to opportunity to ride at peak times and not feel like second class citizens.

I think if I had my own yard I would ensure I had a large enough arena, or two, that if someone is having a lesson there is space for others to ride too. Then I would look into limiting or ignoring lessons at peak times; it would depend on my audience as to the exact times, and of course my facilities, but I think this is really helpful in keeping liveries happy. After all, they ride for pleasure and to take away the blues so making riding difficult means liveries become grumpy and stressed. 

I think dividing a livery bill up into components is really useful too as you can ensure that it is fair, and people can choose the exact package they want, with no grey areas. Then of course I wouldn’t charge extra to book the arena if they are already paying to use the arena.

I’d really like to know other yard policies and how liveries feel they work, or don’t work if that’s they case!

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7 thoughts on “Booking Arena Time

  1. horse and human October 4, 2015 / 10:45 am

    It depends how big your yard is. I am the only one who has a sporadic lesson here and there.
    Apart from that it’s first come first to use, I will share so makes so odds.
    We have a field as well so if the school is used I can just move over 🙂

    Don’t use the school for turnout! Have somewhere people put them to muck out. It’s a bug bear of mine. Have something in place so this isn’t the case.
    If you don’t want people lunging have a specific area for that to. 🙂

    • therubbercurrycomb October 4, 2015 / 2:28 pm

      I think it makes a huge difference if people will share. Obviously having a jump lesson makes this harder, or if one rider/horse is inexperienced or green, but most people should be able to share an arena.
      I always think it’s fine to lunge so long as people lunge properly, ie different sizes circles and in different areas of the arena, but so many people let their horse career around one corner that the surface gets churned up. And I agree! Don’t ever use it for turnout! I’ve seen the damage caused :/

  2. firnhyde October 4, 2015 / 2:45 pm

    The livery yard where my biggest client is based is a complete shambles when it comes to the arena. The arena is a glorified lunging ring (35x15m), so having more than one horse in it at a time is difficult (impossible with youngsters or naughty stallions). Between my trainer and I we have between eight and twelve horses to ride every day, four days a week. This was discussed with the stable manager and we continued with her apparent blessing, but lessons are continually being scheduled in our working hours, resulting in trainers working late, horses being worked in feeding time, clients being disgruntled, lesson students feeling awkward, and bad morale all around. Moral of the story: You’re spot on, a good arena system is essential!

  3. A Life More Horsey October 4, 2015 / 6:50 pm

    Great article. We don’t have a system at our yard. But luckily we have two large arenas, so people generally tend to use the second arena if a lesson is going on. However, we are not allowed to lunge in the indoor school, and we can only jump in the indoor school in off-peak times (no evenings or weekends). But the outdoor arena is a free-for-all at all times 🙂

    • therubbercurrycomb October 4, 2015 / 8:57 pm

      That’s an interesting take, no jumping in peak times would mean more people can ride in the arena and hopefully be safe 🙂

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