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Before you start

  • Don’t try these exercises if you are unsure of handling horses.
  • Warm up your horse’s muscles before starting by walking or lunging for at least 10 minutes.
  • If your horse has an existing injury check with your vet before carrying any of these stretches.

    Making sure your horse is happy

    If your horse is uncomfortable with any of these stretches he will let you know by moving away, if he moves back to you then carry on. If he shows an extreme reaction stop, it may be he is stiff or an indication of a physical problem, if in doubt consult your vet.

    Protraction stretch of the front leg

    Area: Shoulder and elbow.

    What to do: Don’t tie your horse up for this exercise, ask a friend to hold him. Lift your horse’s foot as if you were going to pick his foot out and ‘walk’ his leg out in front of him below the knee – exactly the same way as you would to remove wrinkles from the girth area. Do not use force at any time.

    Benefits: Stretches and relaxes the shoulder and elbow.

    Neckstretch

    Area: Neck

    What to do: Ensure your horse is standing square in front. Ask him to turn his head round towards his flank – a carrot will help encourage him round. If there is any discomfort the movement will not be smooth, any tension will prevent him from doing the exercise. Do this three times on each side.

    Benefits: Stretches and loosens muscles and increases mobility.

    How Mc Timoney chiropractic can help

    Symptoms that may benefit from professional help include:

    • Lameness that hasn’t responded to traditional treatment
    • Unlevelness, especially behind
    • Uneven wear of shoes
    • Stiffness or a disunited canter
    • Sore or “cold” backs
    • A sudden change in behaviour, such as refusing, napping, rearind and bucking.

    For details, contact the McTimoney Chiropractic Association, 21 high Street, Eynsham, Oxon, OX29 4HE.

    Alternatively, contact (tel: 01865 880974) or visit www.mctimoney-chiropractic.org

    See the October issue of HORSE magazine for more stretching exercises, or click here to subscribe.