Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The arena finally dried out enough for remedial work and Arena Guy Mark of Efficient Arena worked on it yesterday and finished today. Seems the base had broken down at each end and when we had an onslaught of rain, the water pooled instead of running off. Various culprits were singled out for blame: Tatankaa (aka The Tonk) for his Quarter horse/Arabian two-step stomp, and Tumay, our beautifully dappled "big girl." The truth is, we're all to blame for our heavy use of the covered arena.
My timing was perfect and I arrived at the barn just as work was completed. I stared at the laser-leveled, perfectly dampened arena and thought: "Omigod, I don't want to be the first one to ride in the new arena!" So I tacked up Phantom and longed in the outdoor arena (more about it later) with the intention of a short ride outside. Owner Susan came by just as I was winding up the longe line and told me to go for it, so I did.
Am I the only one who worries about leaving a trail of egg-shaped "circles" and wavering tracks down the center line in a freshly dragged arena as evidence of my equestrian shortcomings? Seemed like it took forever for Phantom to work through his Arab Anxiety at the walk. But we eventually worked our way up to posting trot, canter, and sitting trot...using my patterns of down the long side and up the middle, 10 meter circles within a 20 meter circle, and spiral circles.
The refurbished arena was like riding on velvet. Soft but not too lofty, no soggy spots, and level. Talk about smooooth! I eventually got a "beach ball" round and connected trot out of Phantom, and the evidence I left behind in the arena wasn't bad. The circles actually looked pretty round. The "new" arena was a real treat.
The outdoor arena is the original riding area at the facility and was all we had for the first year or so. It's gravel and rigged with lights. Summer in the Willamette Valley can last into September and even as late as mid-October. But when the rains come, it's just plain gray and wet. Riding outside after dark was quite the trick. We would disappear into and reappear out of the fog during a lesson with Trainer Cathi, or take a quick ride between rain showers and splash back into the barn to untack and scurry home. Since the covered arena was completed, the outdoor arena has been neglected. The base gravel has worked its way to the top, and the grass is encroaching. Owner Susan is plotting how she can pay for refurbishing the outdoor arena, since it would save wear and tear on the covered arena if we could longe and ride more outside. It will happen somehow. We'll put our heads together and come up with a plan.
Anyway...it was a delight to "dip a hoof" into the newly refurbished arena.