Does your horse have a harder time moving in one direction than the other, or have you noticed his stride is unusually short? Horses who have a decreased range of motion face challenges in the show ring as well as during everyday riding and training. But a decreased range of motion doesn’t have to be permanent; there are many ways you can help your horse overcome this issue.
Why Range of Motion Matters
Range of motion refers to the movement of a joint or body part. For instance, the range of motion of your horse’s shoulder would be measured from the farthest point that he can extend that shoulder out before him all the way to the farthest point where he can flex the shoulder back toward his hind end. The larger that measurement, the greater your horse’s range of motion.
Many factors can influence and limit this range, including your horse’s strength, natural gait, flexibility and balance. Injuries can result in stiffness and lack of flexibility that further reduce this range.
A limited range of motion can impact your horse in many ways. He may be short-strided and have a hard time balancing around turns. He may develop unnatural or undesirable muscling and can get sore muscles from compensating for the restriction in his body. If you compete in speed events, that decreased range will make it hard for your horse to perform at his best, and a horse competing in a sport where movement quality is judged, like dressage, won’t bring in top scores. A chronically reduced range can even put your horse at risk of being injured.
Luckily, you can do many different things to increase range of motion in your horse.
Start With Massage Therapy
If your horse’s reduced motion is due to muscle tension, a few good sessions with an equine massage therapist can help to loosen those muscles so that they can be retrained to work as they should. Don’t forget to also schedule an appointment with your vet to rule out any other potential health issues — like an old injury, arthritis or even Lyme disease — before progressing with the below exercises.
Use In-Hand Range of Motion Exercises
There are plenty of in-hand exercises designed to increase your horse’s flexibility and motion. When performing these exercises, be patient and work with your horse at a time when the barn is quiet and there are few distractions. Approach these exercises like training and remember that as your horse better understands what you’re asking with each exercise, he’ll perform better, too.
Also try some exercises for your horse’s front legs, hind legs and tail.
Stretching is another valuable tool that can increase flexibility and motion in your horse. Stretching needs to be done slowly, and stretching your horse beyond the point where he’s comfortable can lead to injury. It’s best to have your vet or an equine massage therapist demonstrate how to do these stretches before trying them yourself. Always walk your horse around for a few minutes before and after stretching exercises.
These three stretches can help increase your horse’s flexibility under saddle.
Be Deliberate in Your Riding
You can use your time in the saddle to further increase your horse’s range of motion. There are plenty of exercises that you can perform under saddle, like asking your horse to side pass or lengthening his jog. You can also use ground poles, cavaletti, or even riding down hills to encourage this increased range of motion. Depending on the specific result you’re looking for, your trainer may be able to recommend particular exercises to help.
Optimal muscle function is important in keeping your horse performing at his best and in rebuilding and retraining the muscle necessary to restore his natural movement. Un-Lock’s advanced muscle formula includes nutrients that have been proven to improve performance, prevent cramping and improve muscle recovery in the horse. While the work you’ll put into increasing your horse’s range of motion can prepare him for competition, Un-Lock offers additional support that can contribute to his endurance, energy and overall muscle health.
Thanks to BRL Equine’s 90-day money-back guarantee, you can try Un-Lock completely risk-free. If you’re not happy with it, just return the product for a full refund. Try Un-Lock today and see what it, paired with working on your horse’s range of motion, can do for your horse’s performance.
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