How to use carrot stretches to limber up your horse

Stretches help keep your horse supple, can prevent injuries and improve performance. “Carrot stretches” are an excellent way to encourage your horse to stretch. After all, most horses can be bribed by food!

Carrot Stretches are easy ways to stretch your horse’s neck and top line. They are something that you can incorporate into your grooming routine because they take just a few minutes.

  • Start by asking your horse to stretch sideways by holding the carrot to each side either along his barrel or back toward his hip. To achieve the stretch it’s important that your horse keeps his feet still and doesn’t move his body to get the carrot. He may not be able to reach all that way to his hip at first, so it’s okay if you work up to it. You can subtly adjust this stretch by having your horse reach toward his stifle or elbow as well as his hip. This movement stretches your horse’s neck and shoulder.
  • Next ask your horse to bring his head down toward his chest by holding a piece of carrot there. This movement stretches your horse’s poll, crest and neck muscles, and opens the space between the base of the skull and the first vertebra (atlas).
  • Finally hold the carrot between your horse’s forelegs near the girth area. This helps stretch his topline, crest and withers.

Tips & Warnings

  • It’s better to stretch after your horse is warmed up. It’s not a good idea to stretch cold, tight muscles.
  • The best time to stretch is after you’ve warmed down.
  • When you start a stretch, first ask your horse for only a part stretch. If he does okay with it then you can extend it.
  • Start with easy stretches, then work up to harder ones.
  • As your horse gets more flexible, increase the length of the stretches so that they hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • Don’t forget to stretch both sides of the horse.

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