Pre-ride stretches are the most under utilized technique in the horse world. Stretching before hopping on your horse can improve your performance, prevent injury, and properly rehabilitate a previous strain or injury. Stretching is very easy and takes very little time. This is often overlooked in the horse world. It will make a difference in your overall performance and long-term well being.
Everyone is different and we are not all gymnasts. Start slowly and focus on maintaining adequate flexibility for your riding and activity level. Hold each stretch for 10-15 seconds and then relax. The muscles should be heated first by walking or lightly jogging. “Cold” muscles can become easily strained or irritated. Do NOT bounce while stretching. This can cause trauma in the muscle, which will lead to scar tissue. Scar tissue will tighten the muscle, making you less flexible.
Below are five easy stretches:
- Quad Stretch – Kneel down onto one knee (just like a proposal!). Gently push your hips forward until you feel a stretch.
- Lying Roll Over Stretch – Lie down on your back and bend your knees. Allow your knees to fall to one side. Keep your arms out to the side and let you back and hips rotate with your knees.
- Achilles Stretch – Stand up straight and place the ball of your foot onto a step. Bend your knee and lean forward.
- Lower Back Stretch – Lie completely flat onto your back. Pull your knees into your chest with both hands and hold.
- Hamstring Stretch – Again, lie flat on your back in a doorway. Raise one leg up against the wall until you feel a gentle stretch from behind your knee and hold.
These five stretches will greatly improve your riding performance. They are very easy to do. Take a couple minutes before each ride to stretch and you will notice a difference!
For more information on equestrian stretches visit: http://www.classicaldressage.co.uk/Rider_Stretches/rider_stretches.html