For school horses, riding lessons often mean being mounted by a horse riding beginner who doesn’t incorporate stretching the animal’s muscles before the real work begins. These equines become stiff and uncomfortable to ride.
Here’s how you can improve your mount’s life by stretching his back and neck muscles before each lesson.
Bribery Works Every Time!
You can do this exercise before or after the bridle is on your horse, but make sure he can chew properly without the constraints of a flash or dropped noseband.
Carry about nine small treats in your pocket. Apples are good, chopped into small pieces or sugar cubes, which ensure the horse doesn’t have too much to eat before working.
Stand on the horse’s left. Show him a treat, and have him follow your hand while you reach for a point a few inches away from his left shoulder. Don’t give him the treat until he’s bent his head towards you and keeps it there without snatching. He must stand still without swinging his body out to avoid using his neck and back muscles.
Repeat the exercise on his right. Then have him follow the treat downwards and a little towards his chest to earn his reward.
Go back to his left side and ask him to bend his head and neck a bit further towards his stomach this time. Repeat on his right side. Then ask him to stretch between his front legs to get his treat.
Make This a Regular Routine
Do this before every ride, and you’ll find the horse can stretch a little further each time.
Don’t overdo it at first. Especially with a stiff and/or older horse, be happy with some stretch, and gradually ask for more over a period of a few lessons.
Before tightening the girth to mount your horse, lift his forelegs one at a time and stretch them in front of him to pull out the folds of skin caught under the girth. Your horse will thank you.
Hopefully you’ll start a trend in the barn and all the horses will get this star treatment – making their working lives easier, thanks to you!