Stretching is something that should be part of our every day lives. It is especially important for rehabilitation from an injury and when training for an event. It helps keep the muscles supple, prepares the body for movement and helps prevents strains.
Stretching helps reduce muscle tension, increases range of movement, helps prevent injuries, develops body awareness and promotes circulation.
Most animals instinctively stretch themselves and should be encouraged to do so.
With the body work I do with horses - stretching is a progressive part of every session.
I usually give owners some stretching exercises to do at home and when the horse is able to do those easily it will lead on to other exercises. Obviously only doing what the horse can handle at that particular time and getting it perfected is preferred before moving on.
If you force a stretch all you do is create more tight muscles. You must learn how far you can take it to allow the horse to get used to doing something new. Like any training program – little and often is always better.