Stretching Exercises

Stretching Exercises for Your Horse

Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Allison Price

These easy horse stretches by Peter Atkins, a massage therapist, will increase your horse’s under-saddle flexibility.

Horse stretching exercises:

Carrot stretches (neck stretching for horses).

The goal is

To improve flexibility and range motion in the neck and back of your horse.

Tips to use these stretches on your horse

  • To avoid accidental bites, be careful with your fingers
  • Your horse may move away from you by moving his hind legs with his hind feet. He’s actually trying to grab the carrot by swinging his forearm toward it rather than bending. He’s stiff and the stretch is difficult for him. To stop him escaping, place him near a barn-aisle or stall wall.
  • Start slowly if your horse is having trouble reaching the desired distance or staying in a certain position. This will allow his muscles to relax and allow him to reach new heights.
  • As your horse reaches for the carrot, be aware of any differences in his head angle. His head might tilt one side and the other on his right. This means that he is stiffer on one side and less flexible on the other. You can move the carrot up and down to get him to chase after the morsel, until he bends on both sides.
  • Make sure your horse holds the stretch for the prescribed time. You’d ruin the flexibility benefits of the exercise if you let your horse reach for the carrot. He will be less likely to push for carrots if he waits. He will quickly realize that you have the control over what he receives, and not him.
Stretching Exercises

Performance benefit:

You will relax the neck and back muscles of your horse, making them more flexible and reducing stiffness.

What do you need?

A few carrots; a lead rope and halter.

Frequency:

Do the stretching if your horse is stiff around his neck. Continue doing this for at least a month until you feel a decrease in stiffness and suppleness. The exercises should be repeated once per week after that point. These stretches should be done just before you start riding to reap maximum benefits.

Before you begin:

Ask your horse to be haltered and for him to stand straight in an area of good, level footing.

Step 1: Neck Stretch Across Front Leg

As shown, position your horse on his left side. Take a small piece of carrot and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Next, gently draw your horse’s head down with the bait until his nose is at the level of his left front fetlock. As a reward, ask him to hold this position for between 10 and 15 seconds. Repeat this process two to three more times.

Step 2 – Neck Stretch to Elbow

Place your hand next to the barrel of your horse. Ask your horse to touch his left elbow with a carrot treat. Give him a carrot treat and ask him to hold it for 10-15 seconds. Then, feed him. Repeat this process two to three more times. Ask him to hold his nose up to his chest and keep it there for an extra challenge. He will find this difficult, so take your time and work with him. Reward/release him, and then continue each stretch on his right side.

Step 3 – Neck Stretch between Front Legs

Place your left leg next to your horse’s front. As a reward, hold a piece carrot between your horse’s front legs and ask him to reach for it. Reward him with a piece of carrot between his front legs for 10-12 seconds.

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