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  • Mireille Doffegnies C.E.S.M.T.

STRETCH YOUR HORSE!

Updated: Aug 21, 2020

10 Basic Stretches for your horse’s benefit

Why should I stretch my horse and what am I stretching on my horse all explained below!

STRETCHING HAS MANY BENEFITS :

  • Increases flexibility and range of motion

  • Improves posture and lengthens muscles

  • Enhances the sensory nerve endings that communicate to the brain

  • Strengthens muscles and maintains suppleness and elasticity

  • Reduces soreness

  • Decreases risk of injury and aids in the recovery from an injury

  • Horses love doing stretches and will deepen your bond

SAFETY AND GUIDELINES:

  • Before you start a stretching program with your horse consult with your horse’s veterinarian, chiropractor or bodyworker. Not all horses need the same stretches and stretches might have to be adjusted when the horse is recovering from an injury. It’s recommend you have an equine professional teach you how to do the stretches correctly.

  • Never stretch a cold horse! The horse’s soft tissue (muscles, ligaments and tendons) can strain easier then human soft tissue. So make sure the horse is warmed up, either by a good walk/trot on the lunge line, after a bodywork session or after your ride.

  • Make sure you and your horse are in a safe and flat area. Cross tie area with mats, grass or arena, round pen. Never tie a horse, but hold by a lead rope instead or have a handler assist you.

  • You can use carrots (recommended) or horse treats, but make sure your horse does not become food aggressive.

  • Be patient with your horse, if he’s not doing it right away or moving around, he simply might not understand yet what it is he has to do.

  • Start with 5-10 second stretches, repeat each stretch a few times and slowly increase to 20-30 seconds. Stretches need to be done bi-lateral (both sides) Never force a stretch, the horse will let you know how far he can go.

Below are the 10 most common stretches. Please don’t venture out on your own, but feel free to make an appointment with Mireille to teach you all 10 basic stretches for your beloved equine!

Stretch # 1: FRONT LEG STRETCH

To stretch out pectoral muscles, leg extensors and flexors as well as the shoulder by bringing the front leg forward and rotating it. Can also help preventing a pinching girth.

Stretch #2: HIND LEG STRETCH

This stretch is also called the farrier stretch and is for the muscle groups surrounding the hip, S/I, hamstrings, biceps as well as flexor and extensors in the hind leg.

Stretch #3: EXTENDED NECK STRETCH

Helps stretching out many neck muscles like splenius, rhomboids, trapezius, brachio, multifidicus and more.

Stretch #4: CHIN TO CHEST STRETCH

Helps stretching out many neck muscles like splenius, rhomboids, trapezius, brachio, multifidicus and more.

Stretch #5: TURN TO SHOULDER STRETCH

Followed by Head to Diagonal Leg Stretch. Will not only stretch out major shoulder muscles, like the thoracic trapezius, deltoid and tricep muscles, but also the neck muscles. When done correctly even the ventral and intercoastal muscles on the barrel.

Stretch #6: BELLY / BACK LIFT

Very important stretch for your horse’s posture! Like some people, horse can get sluggish and weak back muscles. Most affected muscle is the longissmus and latissimus dorsi mucle which is the back muscle and longest muscle in their body, but also affects the intercoastal and abdominal muscles.

Stretch #7: CARROT STRETCH

The nose to point of hip stretches out many muscles of your horse’s body from front to back, so make sure it’s done correctly.

Stretch #8: BUTT TUCK / PELVIC TILT STRETCH

Is to strengthen and engage your horse’s hind- end by working the S/I joint, gluteal muscles and hamstrings. Makes sure your horse is standing square and to do it gently. Be careful if you have a kicke!

Stretch #9: TAIL PULL STRETCH

This is an excellent stretch for many muscles on your horse’s topline including the trapezius, longissimus and latissimus dorsi, gluteals and even some muscles in shoulder and neck if done correctly.

Stetch #10: BOW STRETCH

I usually like to end with this stretch as it’s fun for horses to do and really stretches out their whole back.


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