As the days become shorter and colder, this typically marks the time when competitions move into indoor arenas around the country. When this happens, it’s likely you will experience one or more of the following…

1.Warm-up

You thought you knew what you were doing when it came to warm-up arenas, but much like when driving a car, as much as you do your best to manoeuvre it correctly, you can’t always help the other idiots around you. Left-to-left is a thing you were taught when you were a toddler, but when someone fails to remember this in the confines of an indoor arena, the problem is magnified 10-fold.

2. Going round the outside of dressage boards

In a smaller indoor arena this becomes either impossible, or you and your horse have to breathe in, in order to get around the arena to do your pre-test spook checks. You pray for the entirety of the spook-check that your horse doesn’t actually spook and end up on the centre line prematurely.

3. Talking of which — judges not in a box/car

Dressage judges are usually sat in something when you enter at A, whether that might be a box or car. Your horse is used to this. But come indoor season, suddenly some judges can be found outside their boxes and sat at terrifying objects such as tables. So as you halt at X with your horse resembling a spooky camel, you can also hear them give you a mark of three and the comment “inattentive”.

4. Showjumping courses come up very, very quickly

In roomy outdoor arenas, you have time to get your knitting and brain in order before the next line of showjumping fences. There is no such luxury once indoors. Before you know it you’ve gone from fence one to 10 in the blink of an eye, and the poles left on the ground behind you tell you that you might be a bit rusty!

5. Not to mention arena eventing

How on earth do people remember where they’re going when there’s 20+ fences in an indoor arena?

6. People walking along the gallery

You know what it’s like — a lot of indoor arenas have viewing/gallery/walkway areas on at least one side. This can make life particularly interesting (see point number three) if/when people suddenly appear walking/sitting down/standing up in such areas.

7. Warming up and another horse suddenly comes in

So you’re riding around, approaching the entrance where you came into the warm up, when suddenly another horse appears there like magic. You’re almost as surprised as your horse.

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8. Is it actually colder indoors than it is out?

Why is it that no matter the number of coats you are layering onto yourself while waiting for the next class to start, you absolutely cannot get warm. It’s like every indoor arena has its own frozen microclimate.

9. But the food is a whole new level of yum

After a cold day indoors, the café’s cheesy chips have never tasted so good. And the hot chocolate is the stuff of legend!

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