4 ways to prevent stiffness in your horse

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Time in the stable, or the effects of the cold can play havoc with your horse’s joints leading to stiffness.

Of course we recommend you keep routine appointments with your horse’s qualified chiro, physio or massage therapist but there are a few things you can do to help your horse stay supple and comfortable.

1. Carrot stretches

With the temptation of a carrot as an incentive, try this simple in-hand neck stretch to loosen your horse up.

Ask him to reach down to the outside of his fetlock.

Let him nibble on the carrot for a few seconds so that he holds the position, taking care to only take him down as far as he’s willing to go.

Repeat on the other side and, over time, you’ll find he’ll gradually become more flexible.

2. A little massage

A little massage goes a long way and this one is easy to do.

Stand next to your horse and use long gliding strokes over his back, using both hands to apply gentle but increasing pressure, following the lie of his coat.

Lead the strokes into his hindquarters, then switch to using the heel of your palm or a loose fist to apply rhythmic, pumping strokes with one or both hands on the gluteal muscles.

3. A spot of polework

Walking your horse over raised poles daily can help to alleviate some stiffness by lifting his back, hips, shoulders and elbows, stifles and hocks.

This also helps to strengthen and improve the suppleness involved in engagement and flexion.

Why not set this up on the way to your horse’s paddock so that you can easily incorporate it into his routine. It can be done in-hand or when ridden.

4. Ready for exercise

General exercise is important in both treating and preventing stiffness and, in addition, a good warm-up is vital to loosen and warm your horse’s muscles before his core session of work begins.

Don’t forget your cool down too – this has just as important a part to play in the battle against stiffness.