Horse Exercises

By Sam Smith, Event Rider

The shorter days of Autumn and Winter reduce time available to ride and exercise our horses on ‘work days’, so make sure they get plenty of turn-out time as well as finding ways to keep them supple and exercised – try practicing these exercises with your horse.

 

1 Back Exercises
A) Take a hoofpick or a ball point pen and run it along the length of the back from the withers to the tail, about a hands breadth from the midline. Repeat on the other side.
B) Place one hand on the withers and with the other hand on the sternum use the fingertips to stimulate a flexion response.
C) Stand behind the horse and rub the area either side of the dock briskly to stimulate a flexion response. 
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2 Carrot Stretches
A) Take the carrot down the horses chest to inbetween the front legs.
B) Take the carrot to the outside of the fetlock.
C) Take the carrot to the outside of the knee.
D) Take the carrot to the outside of the elbow.
E) Take the carrot to the middle of the ribcage.
Repeat each stretch three times on both sides.
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3 Tail Exercises
Grasp the dock in both hands a couple of inches from the root of the tail. Lift the dock slightly so that it is horizontal then apply a slow gentle traction which gradually increases over a period of ten seconds. Release the tail slowly and observe the rebound as the horse relaxes. Repeat the tail pull ten times.
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4 Forelimb Stretches
A) Lift the foreleg and cup your hands just above and behind the knee. Apply a gentle smooth stretch until you find the point of resistance then hold for a couple of seconds and release.
B) Lift the foreleg and take the knee backwards through the limbs normal range of movement.
C) Lift the foreleg and cup your hands behind the pastern, extend the leg until you find the point of resistance, hold and release.
D) With the leg fully extended gently abduct and adduct the limb through its normal range.
N.B. Protect your own back throughout.
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5 Hindlimb Stretches
A) Lift the hindleg and cup your hands behind the pastern. Gently draw the leg forward until you find the point of resistance, hold for a couple of seconds and release slowly.
B) Lift the opposite hindleg to the side you are standing and gently draw the leg forewards and towards you i.e. underneath the horses belly, find the resistance point, hold and then release slowly.
N.B. Protect your own back throughout and avoid these stretches if the horse is likely to kick.
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