Three Stretches to Improve Fitness in Your Horse
Pelvis and Upper Rear Leg
At the beginning of Stretch Lesson #1 we talked about the basic benefits of stretching. Additional benefits include knowing your horse better. As you work through these series of stretches you should start having a good feel for which leg is more restricted than the other or if your horse hesitates to release. Hands on work with your horse brings a higher awareness of what is normal. The two of you will begin understanding and trusting each other better as well. You have to trust being under your horse and he has to trust that he can release or give to you. This happens by being consistent with your work and always working within both you and your horses’ limitations.
As a reminder make sure both you and your horse are warmed up before you begin the stretches.
STRETCH #2 – PELVIS AND UPPER REAR LEG
This stretch addresses from the Hocks to the Femur, including all the Flexor and Extensor muscles. From the Stifle up all the Gluteals, Biceps, Quadriceps and deep in the Pelvis the Psoas muscles which stretch to the back.
From the near side pick-up the rear leg as if you were going to clean the hoof. Move your right hand to the middle of the cannon bone.
Turn and look over your left shoulder and cup your left hand over the true hip joint.
Pause for a moment take a breath and as you exhale invite the leg back, as you feel the stretch slide your left hand down to the front of the hock joint. HOLD stretch for 1 to 3 seconds depending on your horses’ fitness. REST, slowly release the stretch by moving forward and setting the hoof back on the ground. REPEAT for 3 to 5 repetitions depending on fitness. Repeat with right leg.
Just a reminder. Make sure you support the true hip joint with your left hand during the stretch. This provides stabilization stabilization for the horse which will help give them the confidence they need to relax and stretch. Your right hand supporting the hock helps to protect the tendons and ligaments below the hock. Getting in the right position takes practice. Give yourself the time to stop and think as you go from one position to the next.
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.jeannetteburrows.com or viewing her HCC Business Directory page at http://www.horseconnectioncenter.com/business-directory/jeannette-burrows-cmt/