How much can you increase your horses’ flexibility in 2 weeks?!
We have chosen these two specific stretches to challenge as they are easy to monitor and record any improvement.
It is important that your horse is warmed up in one way or another before carrying out stretches of any kind to prevent injury. This can be 10 minutes walking in hand or on a horse walker to get the blood circulating. Alternatively you could massage the hamstrings, neck and back with the Equilibrium Therapy Massage Mitt or Massage Pad, or if you don’t have one available, massage with your hands (read our article here on tips!) or a rubber curry comb.
Stretching Challenge – Part 1 – Hamstring Stretch
Draw the horses’ hind limb forward towards the forelimb fetlock; make sure you keep the leg in a straight line rather than pulling the limb away from the body. Support the leg with one hand on the fetlock joint and the other mid-way along the tendons that run down the back of the leg.
To work towards an improvement hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each leg letting the horse stand and readjust in between each repetition. You want to aim to do this without your horse snatching the leg back from you. If they are snatching, they may slightly uncomfortable, you are asking too much stretch too soon or they are not relaxed enough to be stretching at that particular time. If they are relaxing into it you can ask for a little more stretch on each rep.
Ideally you should aim for your horse to almost be able to touch the back of the front fetlock joint with his hind toe.
Make a note/picture of where he is at the start of your challenge and work towards getting closer and closer to that fetlock.
Just think of the extra step through you could have when we’re back out riding and competing!
Stretching Challenge – Part 2 – Neck Flexion
This is a baited stretch using a high value, but low calorie treat – Equilibrium Products Crunchits work well for this. Take the treat between the front legs close to the ground. This will stretch the muscles of the neck and back that make up the top line.
Try to maintain this position for 10-15 seconds before giving the treat and repeat at least 3 times. Aim to maintain smooth movements without any snatching or grabbing; if your horse is having to try and grab it may mean you’re asking too much too soon, reduce the stretch and build up gradually. Try to ensure your horse is stood as square as possible and let him readjust between repetitions if necessary.
If your horse is starting to lift/move a front foot that’s cheating! Ask a bit less to ensure all 4 feet are on the floor and you are achieving a nice rounded shape through the neck. When we are back out competing hopefully this will increase the marks for those free walk on a long rein and more!
Make a note of how far your horse can comfortably stretch at the beginning and how much he is improving week on week.
To take part in the Challenge:
Join the Equestrian Lockdown Challenge Group – and comment the pictures and videos of you and your horse taking part on the relevant challenge post. Or if you’re on Instagram then tag all the companies involved and use the #EquestrianLockdownChallenge. We’d love to hear if you’ve managed to record a difference, or even better – have photo or video evidence! Everyone who takes part and shares their picture or video will go into a prize draw to win a Massage Mitt OR a pair of Magnetic Chaps, your choice! Good luck, and lets get stretching!
Ideally repeat these 2 different stretches everyday (if possible) to get the most improvement.
If you want to try out more stretches with your horse see our Stretching article here.