Three Stretches to Improve Fitness in Your Horse
Shoulder and Foreleg
Regardless if you are an equine professional or new to horse ownership we all want to keep our horses healthy and fit.
Incorporating stretching into your equine training or fitness program can have many benefits. By increasing flexibility you lessen the susceptibility of injuries to muscles, tendons and ligaments, you can improve range of motion, coordination, and recovery time after exercise.
To insure maximum benefit is being gained from stretching, I am advising light physical activity to warm up the muscles. A lap or two around the barn at a brisk walk will suffice.
STRETCH #1 – SHOULDER AND FORELEG
This stretch addresses the Flexor and Extensor muscles from the knee (carpals) to the elbow, the Pectorals in the chest, the Triceps from the elbow to the scapula, the Deltoids from the shoulder to the withers, the Trapezius and the Latissimus Dorsi from the shoulder to the pelvis.
Pick-up the front leg as if you going to clean out the hoof. Then move your hand up behind the knee ( carpals). Facing the shoulder with your legs apart and the horses’ leg hanging between yours.
Keeping you hand behind the knees and fetlock joint helps to protect the tendons and ligaments both above and below your hands.
Pause for a moment, take a breath and as you exhale, slowly lean back and invite the shoulder to stretch forward, as you feel the stretch slide one hand down to the back of the fetlock joint to deepen the stretch.
HOLD the stretch for 1 to 3 seconds. REST, release the stretch by leaning forward slowly and setting the hoof back on ground. REPEAT, for 3 to 5 repetitions. Repeat with the other leg.
Just a reminder. Make sure your horse is healthy and fit to begin a stretching program. Do a good warm-up before you start your stretching. Move very slowly with both the stretch and release. Give the program 30 days and you’ll see and feel a difference.
Jeannette Burrows CMT specializes in posture analysis and therapeutic body work for humans and animals. This article is the first in a series of three emphasizing the importance of stretching. Jeannette is available for private as well as group sessions and also teaches a variety of workshops. You can learn more about Jeannette by going to her website at www.jeannetteburrowscmt.com or viewing her HCC Business Directory page at http://www.horseconnectioncenter.com/business-directory/jeannette-burrows-cmt/