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As the muscles become stronger through training, they often become shorter and the tightness causes the tendon to be constantly stretched between it’s origin and insertion point, this ends up resulting in inflammation and strain being put on the joint. It is therefore very important to stretch the muscles to their correct length ensuring that it is supple and allowing the tendon to relax.
It is very important that great care is taken when stretching the horse ensuring at all times that no muscle is stretched beyond it’s capability, cold muscles should never be stretched.
During the consultation I can give you a demonstration on how to stretch your horse, when and to what level so as to benefit your horse on a regular basis.
Muscle and tendon injuries are often the cause of poor performance in the horse and stretching can assist in preventing these kinds of injuries when incorporated as part of their training program. Stretching can also benefit the horse in the following ways:
Stretching in horses offers both visible and invisible benefits, it enhances the sensory nerve endings in the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints (also known as proprioceptors), that give the brain information about movement and body position.
For Example, after an injury, proprioception is modified by sensations of pain and lameness. The body tries to avoid these unpleasant feelings by limited movement or by using other muscles to do the job. Stretching helps to “reset” the proprioceptors. By holding a stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds, you can help jump-start the body’s remodeling process. This can restore positive responses instead of reinforcing negative ones.
Signs your horse is in pain or discomfort:
Few human athletes would compete without preparing their bodies- yet with horses the supreme athlete, they are generally ignored!
Spend time loosening your horse before you ask anything of him, this will improve his suppleness and range of movement and reduce the risk of injury.
Working in a long and low outline is also an important tool for warming down. 5 minutes stretching at the end of a workout will help relax the muscles and prevent a build up of lactic acid.
To ask your horse to stretch lower and widen your hands and gently “sponge” the reins with your fingers. Maintain a consistent and soft contact, and keep your leg on.
Think about creating suppleness and swing through his whole body, don’t just focus on what his head and neck are doing.
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