Like humans, each horse can have different areas of muscle tightness that need attention. Key factors affecting muscle flexibility include:
- Riding discipline
- Saddle fit (or lack thereof)
- Nutrition (correct amount of selenium & vitamin E daily is critical for proper muscle function)
- Amount of turnout
- Current or prior injury, illness and/or surgery
- Hoof balance
- Dental health and balance
- Rider balance and posture
How Do I Know Which Stretches Would Be Beneficial for My Horse?
NOTE: For pictures, detailed stretch descriptions and names of the muscles being stretched, visit the Horse Stretches Library and the color coded muscle charts.
5 Stretches to Increase Stride Length
3 Key Muscle Groups: The Pecs (Pectorals), Shoulders and Legs
Increasing stride length is not just about stretching your horse's legs. Your horse's pectoral muscles (aka the "pecs" which are located in the front of the chest, in the "armpit" area, and in the girth/cinch area) and the muscles of the shoulder must also be stretched, supple and flexible to attain maximum stride length.
Here are 5 stretches for your horse's hard working front end that will help increase stride length. (NOTE: The # refers to the stretch # in the SYH Coach 25 video collection)
- #5 Inner Bent Front Leg and Armpit ("pec") Stretch-- Great stretch for all 3 pec muscles
- # 3 Shoulder and Bent Front Leg Stretch AND # 6 Advanced Bent Front Leg Variations -- Excellent stretches for the front legs, pecs and shoulders
- #7 Straight Front Leg -- Great stretch for all the muscles in the legs
- #4 Circling Bent Front Leg -- Outstanding stretch for the legs, shoulders and pecs.
Universally Beneficial Stretches: The Basics
Here are 6 stretches that are generally beneficial for most healthy horses regardless of riding discipline. (NOTE: The # refers to the stretch # in the SYH Coach video collection.)
- #14 Forward Farrier Low and High Stretch
- #12 Farrier Low and High Stretch
- #11 Pelvic Rock and Hold Stretch
- #4 Circling and Stationary Bent Front Leg Stretch
- #5 Inner Bent Front Leg and Armpit Stretch
- #23 Nose to Point of Hip and Stifle Stretch
Universally Beneficial Stretches: Advanced
Once you and your horse have mastered the basic universally beneficial stretches, here are 6 additional advanced stretches that are beneficial for most healthy horses.
- #15 Forward Farrier Variations Low and High Stretch
- #13 Farrier Variations Low and High Stretch
- # 9 Belly Lift Stretch
- #20 Head and Neck Side Curve Stretch
- #8 Shoulder, Ribs and Bending Neck Stretch
- #7 Straight Front Leg Low and High Stretch
5 Stretches for the Hard Working Hind End:
The Gluts, Pelvis, Hamstrings and Quads
We all know that horses propel themselves forward from their hind end. So, whether you are doing sliding stops, jumping fences, trail riding, doing flying lead changes or simply walking, trotting and cantering or loping, your horse's "hind end" muscles are working hard! Here are 5 stretches to help keep your horse's hind end relaxed and flexible. (NOTE: The # refers to the stretch # in the SYH Coach video collection.)
- #11 Hips and Pelvic Rock and Hold Stretch-- Stretches the muscles of the "low back" (lumbar/sacral area) and those surrounding the point of hip, gluteals and obliques
- #14 Forward Farrier High and Low Stretch-- Stretches the hamstring muscles located on the very back of the horse's hind end on either side of the "butt crack"
- #12 Farrier Low and High-- Stretches the "quad" muscles located on the front of the horse's hind legs, the gluteal muscles and some muscles surrounding the hips
- #15 Advanced Forward Farrier Variations Stretch-- Stretches additional muscles surrounding the point of hip, hamstrings and adductors and abductors (muscles on the inside and outside of yours horse's hind legs)
- #13 Advanced Farrier Variations Low and High Stretch -- Stretches additional muscles on upper portion of the inside and outside of your horse's legs
- A key "enabler" stretch is the belly lift stretch (#9). This "must do" stretch stretches the back muscles thereby enabling your horse to realize the benefits of properly stretched hind end muscles!
- Intro to Horse Stretching/Successful Treat Stretching;
- Head and neck;
- Front end;
- Back/core and hind end; and
- Girth/Cinch Tips and Solutions
The Horse Stretches Video Library contains a picture of each stretch and a description of the muscles being stretched so you can easily access the right stretching videos for your horse.
The color images of the deep, superficial and hind end muscles of the horse will also help you visualize and understand which muscles are being stretched and their location.