NOTE: If your horse has had any recent physical problems that affect joints and muscles, such as falls, injuries, traumas, kicks, surgery or others,or any other reason you may have concern about, consult your veterinarian before you start a stretching program. Stretching should never be forced. Muscle injury can arise from forcing the horse to go further than he's able.
Just the FAQs
Stretching is very important. Stretching improves the tone of muscle fibers & elasitcity of the tendons, ligaments and joint capsules. It helps to reduce muscle tension and therefore helps to prevent muscle injuries. It makes the body feel more relaxed, helps to relieve chronic muscle tension and pain, reduces post exercise soreness, increases flexibility and range of motion and helps to reduce muscle adhesions and scar tissue- to name a few.
The best time is as part of the cool down process.
ALWAYS STRETCH WHEN THE HORSE IS WARM. You risk damage of muscles, ligaments and tendons if stretched when muscles have not been warmed up. Stetching is very beneficial as part of the cool down process as it helps to put the muscle fibers back to place and also to help remove toxins, such as lactic acid which causes muscle soreness and stiffness. Before competition: Warm up the horse for 10-15 minutes and then stretch.
NEVER FORCE THE HORSE. It may take months to get to a full extension. You risk muscle damage when you make him go further than he is capable. Irregular stretching is of no real benefit. One must incorporate it on a regular basis and make it part of the routine. Also, stretching must be done properly. Otherwise, you risk more damage than not. If you are not confident in your skills, don't do it. Do not bounce and hold for only 10-15 seconds or less. Work up gradually. If you feel you must stretch cold muscles, do so carefully.