Small Arena

By Tonya Rossman


I am well into my second season as a CHA Certified Riding Instructor with much success. The other day I took a 5-year-old for a pony ride on my 12 hand pony inside a 60 x 80 arena at the Community Fairgrounds where I operate. I was leading her around on my pony who will tolerate just about anything, well except moose.

As I was leading the pony around against the rail with a side walker on the right side, I decided to cut across the arena as this was her first ride and she wanted to be close to her parents standing at the end of the arena. Just then we heard a snap and whoosh in the thick alders beside the arena and the pony crow-hopped around to see the tail end of a moose. I was able to get him under control with a good Whoa, but not before the rider lost her balance and slid off the opposite side of me. She had a well-fitted helmet and boots and landed on her side. She was shook up but brushed herself off and got back on. It could have been much worse.


There are several factors which could have prevented or decreased the chance for this to have happened. Where was my side walker? When the pony spooked, he was trailing along behind the pony with a confused look. Although young, he has done plenty of side walking but he never had to react to a quick incident before. I also did not have a back cinch on the pony saddle, although I have one on order. Also, the alder trees created a safe haven for moose (or anything else) to hide, the pony did not see it but heard and smelt it first. I will have them cleared all the way back to the next property line and choose more experienced side walkers. In addition, although all my lesson horses are gentle, older and have many miles, spooking is always a possibility for any horse or pony. I only put small children on small ponies with their legs at least reaching half-way down for balance. Had she been on my 14 or 15 hand horse and fell, it probably would have been much worse.

About the Author: Tonya Rossman is a CHA Certified Instructor from Haines, Alaska. She runs Small Tracks Stable & Saddlery.

Editor’s Note: Normally this column includes true stories that have been fictionalized. This article is a true story written in the words of the victim, with editorial assistance from the author… Thank you for sharing stories that will prevent others from being hurt. If you have a story you would like to share, please email it to us at