Three Front End Stretches to Reduce Your Horse's Shoulder Stiffness and Increase Performance
Whether your horse is a quiet trail companion or a high-energy competitor, just like a human athlete, he needs regular stretching sessions to perform his best. Stretching increases elasticity and suppleness, which reduces the risk of injury. It also reduces inflammation and increases circulation.
A horse carries 60 percent of his weight on his front end, so keeping these limbs supple and stretched is especially important. These three stretching exercises target the shoulder, elbow, and carpal muscles and are appropriate for a horse who has a shortened front stride from shoulder stiffness. Be sure that you stretch both sides equally. You can perform all exercises on one side before moving to the other, or you can do the same stretch on each side.
Before You Begin
Shoulder Flexor and Elbow Extensor
This stretch targets both the shoulder flexor and elbow extensor.
Stand at the horse’s shoulder facing his tail. Pick up one front leg and place your hands behind his knee. Gently bring his front leg forward and lift upward until you feel a natural resistance. His lower leg should hang naturally at a 90 degree angle. Hold for 15 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
This stretch targets the shoulder flexor, elbow extensor, and the carpal flexor muscles.
Stand at the horse’s shoulder facing his tail. Pick up one front leg and place your outside hand behind his knee and your inside hand on his fetlock. Gently bring the leg forward and extend the lower part of the limb.
When you stretch one muscle, you need to stretch the opposite muscle as well. This stretch targets the shoulder extensor.
Stand at the horse’s shoulder facing his tail. Pick up one front leg and place your outside hand below his knee and your inside hand below his fetlock so that the leg is at a 90-degree angle. Gently move his leg under his belly until you feel a natural resistance.
Good for Mind and Body
Stretching benefits your horse’s body and his mind. Make this a part of your regular training routine to keep him in his best physical condition. Remember that you must be in the right mindset before you begin so that your horse feeds off of your quiet positive energy for a relaxing, successful stretching session.
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Welcome! I've been a freelance writer since 2002 and have numerous horse-related articles published in print and online publications. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Rocky Mountain College with a major in Equestrian Studies and a minor in Business Management. My current business ventures include High Plains Arena and real estate investing.