Mobilisation exercises can be an excellent addition to your horses’ daily routine helping to improve flexibility, build strength and prevent injury. The type of stretches Treatsies are ideal for are called dynamic mobilisation stretches, also known as carrot stretches. In this type of stretch the horse is standing and you use the Treatsie to encourage the horse to follow it with its head and neck. Your horse should remain standing and use its head and neck to follow, not its feet.
Overstretching is rare however if you are unsure how to perform the stretch make sure you contact your vet or physiotherapist to show you correctly how to activate the muscles needed. They can also advise you if there are any underlying issues.
The purpose of the stretching is to activate specific muscles that help support the core stability of the horse which in turn will aid in mobilisation of the spine. Over time dynamic mobilisation stretches have been found to strengthen the multifidus, a muscle that crosses some vertebrae in the neck and spine. If this muscle is weak the muscles either side of the spine have to work harder to provide spinal support. This overcompensating can lead to them shortening and cause pain and discomfort.
During the stretches it is important that the chin stays aligned with the centre of the horse’s body, don’t let it twist towards the Treastsie, you will be able to tell if he is doing this as his ears will be un-level. This ensures the muscles and joints are engaged correctly and being worked effectively. Treatsies are ideal for the stretches as they are the perfect size to be able to hold correctly, plus they are delicious and your horse will be happily guided by them. However, watch your fingers! Not every horse will gently take the treat, so be cautious.
Holding the Treatsie in your hand allow the horse time to give recognition to the treat and use this to guide the horse’s head to the desired position; the horse’s chin will follow. Make sure you don’t move too quickly and don’t over stretch, you will find the range of movement will increase with practice as they get stronger. In the early stages be content with a small amount of movement and ask for more range overtime. Watching your horse carefully, and to support their comfort, allow the horse to stretch to you. Your horse will let you know when they are at their comfortable range, hold the stretch for up to 5 seconds and reward your horse at the end. Carry out each stretch 3-5 times each day, allowing the muscles to relax between each repetition. However, never stretch a horse cold, for example when it has ben stabled over night. Stretches are best performed when there has been at least five minutes warming up time.
Some example stretches you can try are:
- Chin to chest – lower the chin to the centre of the chest.
- Chin to knees – lower the chin to between the front knees
- Chin to fetlock – this can be easier if you hold the Treatsie between the front fetlock from behind the leg.
- Chin to flank – standing behind the shoulder guide the chin towards the flank ensuring he does not twist rather than stretch. Stretch both sides equally.
Silvermoor Treatsies are ideal for this training as they are low in sugar, low in starch and high in fibre. Made using only the very best quality natural ingredients you can be sure you are feeding something not only irresistibly delicious but healthy for your horse too. Available in Tremendous Turmeric and Calming Chamomile both varieties have been used for centuries in alternative medicine and have renowned holistic properties.