Stretching is an important step for any athlete, and this quick video teaches you the basics of stretching your horse.
Stretching your horse can help to keep him limber and can relieve muscle strain. It's an effective tool to use in your horse's warm-up and cool-down routine, but when you stretch your horse, you need to be able to do it correctly.
Applying a bad stretch can actually harm your horse, so only do basic stretches and always watch your horse for signs that he is uncomfortable. Stretching shouldn't hurt your horse, and if it does hurt him, then you are likely doing the stretch incorrectly.
The video below is a great introduction to stretching your horse. The video goes over eight different basic stretches that most horses can benefit from.
As you watch, make sure that you observe Dom's positioning in relation to the horse - he keeps himself safely out of the way in case the horse reacts unexpectedly. Also watch the horse's expression and reaction to the stretch - the horse remains relaxed and even leans into some of the stretches, a sign that he is enjoying the process.
When you stretch your horse, you should make your moves slow and gradual. Never yank on a leg or force your horse into a stretched position, since this can strain and even tear muscles.
Instead, go slowly and gradually ask the horse to move into the stretch. Keep the stretch steady - if you pull to the point where your horse is shaking in the stretch, then you're over-stretching your horse. Once the stretch is done, gradually release the pressure and help your horse return to his initial position - don't just drop his leg.
When stretching your horse, just be sure to listen to what he is telling you. If you have questions about what particular stretches you should be performing on your horse, be sure to talk with your horse's vet.