Now that we have gone over pre-riding stretches for the rider, let’s talk about stretches for your horse! These on-the-ground stretches can do wonders for a senior horse that needs to be limbered up a bit.
As a horse ages, their muscles become less flexible – especially in their legs and neck. However, these stretches can be done on a horse of any age. Before you stretch your horse, make sure you are on good, solid footing in a quiet area. You may also need a helper to hold your horse while you stretch the legs. As you begin to stretch your horse, you may find a slight resistance. This is when the horse’s body has reached it’s “stretch limit.” Hold each stretch for about twenty seconds.
- Hip Joint Stretch – Stand at your horse’s flank, face rearward, and grab the hind fetlock joint with both hands. Flex the hip joint, stifle and hock by raising it to about 90 degrees so the gaskin is vertical and the cannon bone is horizontal.
- Stifle and Hip Joint Stretch – Face your horse’s hip, lift the foot like you are going to clean his hoof out. Place one hand around the cannon bone and the other above the hock. Stretch the leg from side to side. With the leg still raised, slide the hand that was supporting the hock down to the cannon bone and cradle the fetlock with the other hand. Lift the fetlock gently and flex the hock to 90 degrees.
- Flexor Tendons and Suspensory Ligament Stretch – Stand in front of your horse and slightly off to the side. Grab the leg in front of you on the cannon region. Slowly pull it towards you keeping the knee slightly bent and hold.
- Neck Stretch – Stand at your horse’s flank again and offer him a treat. Make him stretch around to get it and let him hold it for as long as he can.
Continue to do these four stretches every day to increase suppleness in your horse. They will only take about five minutes before each ride. Now both you and your horse will be warmed up for a great ride!
For more information on equine stretching visit, http://www.equisearch.com/article/care041503-11338