There are many different versions of these neck stretches that can be done to help your horses, but here are 4 examples that can be used on a daily basis. They work to not only improve your horse’s neck mobility but to also mobilise throughout the horse’s spine. Dr D’s tasty treats are a great and healthy treat to use with these stretches to help your horses all round wellbeing. I find these biscuit sized treats are great for tempting the horse whilst keeping your fingers safe!
(Don’t attempt these stretches if your horse has any diagnosed problems with its neck such as wobbler’s syndrome without your vet’s permission)
Take a treat, and use it to encourage your horse to slowly
lower its head down to the ground out in front of itself as if it was going to eat grass, then encourage the horse to lift its nose up and back, to the point where its nose is just between its knees, and then allow it to have the treat. If your horse struggles to lower its head that much, then DO NOT force it, give the horse the treat at which ever position it can reach.
Then take another treat and ask your horse to bend its head and neck to one side to where the point of shoulder comes, again if it cannot complete this do not force it, give the horse the treat at which ever position it can reach.
Then take another treat and ask your horse to bend its head and neck as if it was going to try and scratch its flanks, again if it cannot complete this do not force it, give the horse the treat at which ever position it can reach.
Then complete the same 2 exercises with the head and neck bending to the other side.
These tests show you the basic range of movement that a horse should have. If your horse is unable to reach any of these points, it suggests that they may have a problem with either joint stiffness, or muscle tension in their neck or back that should be checked by a qualified animal osteopath such as myself. However, if using these stretches for general mobility by repeating these stretches over time the horse will be able to reach further and become more mobile throughout its spine and help to prevent future injuries.
Emma Boyd Qualified animal osteopath www.emmaboydosteopath.co.uk tel: 077033 23532