Three Stretches to Improve Fitness in Your Horse
Neck and Rib Cage
The third article in this series brings the connection of the two prior stretches into a lateral movement. This requires you to put your new found skills in patience and touch to work. For some horses bending laterally without moving their feet can be difficult at first. They may need to circle around you a few times before coming to a stop. Once they stop, with soft hands continue on as the instructions indicate.
As a reminder make sure both you and your horse are warmed up before you begin the stretches.
STRETCH #3 – Neck and Rib Cage
This stretch addresses from the Head to the Withers the Splenius, Trapezius, and the Cervical Ventral Serrated muscles. From the Head to the Shoulder the Brachiocephalic muscle. The Shoulders are also stretched and the Rib Cage is opened up stretching the Obliques.
Start on the near side with your left hand on the bridge of the nose and your right finger tips just above the cervical vertebra, press lightly with your finger tips and slowly invite the head around and back. With your shoulders lean back and as the head moves back slide your right finger tips further down the neck until you meet the scapula. Move you right hand over the scapula and place your finger tips near the girth line and continue back to the middle of the ribs. HOLD stretch for 1 to 3 sec. depending on fitness. REST slowly release stretch by walking the head back to the forward position. REPEAT for 3 to 5 repetitions depending on fitness.
The three stretches isolate muscle groups by holding the stretched position for a short amount of time in a pattern of HOLD – REST – REPEAT. After 30 days you can increase the repetitions as your horse becomes more fit.
Each of the three stretches should be looked at as one connecting to the other bringing both balance and flexibility.
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/