I often come across horses with hind end muscle tightness in my practice as an equine bodyworker, elastic kinesiology taper and saddle fitter. Since horses propel themselves forward from their hind end, this is not surprising. Whether you are doing sliding stops, jumping fences, trail riding, doing flying lead changes or simply walking, trotting, cantering or loping, your horse's "hind end muscles" are working hard. Even horses that are retired and hanging out enjoying life with their friends in the field can develop tight hind end muscles from lack of use.
Assuming your horse is healthy, injury-free, and gets the appropriate amount of selenium and vitamin E daily, stretching is one of the best things you can do to enhance performance, help prevent injuries and keep those hind end muscles relaxed, flexible and able to do their job. Stretching can often help address concerns about short-striding, general hind end weakness and/or imbalance, and a lack of willingness to smoothly move forward.
Here are five hind end stretches that are beneficial for most horses. You can visit the Horse Stretches Library for detailed stretch descriptions and the names of the muscles being stretched as well as the color coded muscle charts at the bottom of this post. And remember, always consult an equine healthcare professional prior to starting any stretching regimen.
Are you ready to get your horse stretch on? Step by step "how to" videos for all of these stretches are contained in the Stretch Your Horse Mobile App.
What is your favorite hind end stretch?
How has stretching benefited your horse?
Ilene Nessenson, JD, Certified Equine Bodyworker, is the creator of the Stretch Your Horse App. She has been an equine bodyworker, saddle fitter, and saddle reflocker for over 11 years.
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