10 winter stretches: Releasing the shoulder blade

By Amanda Sutton

Seasonal guides

14 December 2009 11:47

Short winter days can make it difficult to ride, but here are simple ground work exercises to help maintain your horse’s fitness and mobility through the cold winter months.

The muscles in the shoulder area can get very blocked, but horses enjoy this exercise and it really improves their stride length:

- Hold your horse’s fore leg and place your other hand on his back in the area where the saddle rests, just behind the shoulder blade (see pic, below). Maintain a wide hand span.

- Slowly move your knees down towards the ground to lower the leg. Keep your horse’s leg bent for a count of five, then release.

- If your horse falls into you he hasn’t understood to ‘let go’ and be independent of the rest of his body. Give verbal cues so the horse knows he’s doing well. If you feel that his shoulder’s not dropping, gently lift his leg up skywards and then release it down – similar to us tightening a muscle and then letting it go to relax it.

- Repeat on both sides. Repeat three times on each side.