wikiHow to Stretch a Horse

Three Methods:Stretching Your Horse’s NeckStretching Your Horse’s LegsStretching Your Horse’s Back

Stretching your horse help them to maintain good physical condition, and prepares them for more strenuous riding and training. Keep your horse in shape and practice these stretches with them on a regular basis!

Method 1
Stretching Your Horse’s Neck

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    Prepare your horse. Move to an open area where your horse has a free range of movement. Grab a small treat that your horse will be interested in; carrots work particularly well for this stretch because of their length.
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    Stand just behind your horse’s front legs. The following stretches should be done on both sides of your horse, and from a position parallel to or just behind their front legs.
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    Draw your horse’s head down with the treat. Hold the treat near your horse’s head so that they become aware of it, and then bribe them into stretching by moving the treat down past the fetlock. Try to have them hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds before releasing and giving them the treat. The stretches the horse’s neck back and downwards.
    • If your horse can’t reach as far as you would like them to, simply lessen the distance at first and over time their muscles will become accustomed to it.
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    Stretch your horse’s neck straight back. Take another treat and, standing in the same location, get your horse’s attention and direct their head straight back towards their withers. Hold the treat just below their shoulder (a bit above their belly) and keep it there for 10-15 seconds. Then, release the pressure and give your horse the treat.
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    Stretch your horse’s topline. Using another treat or the rest of your carrot, guide your horse’s neck down and back a bit between their legs. Instead of reaching to the outside of the fetlock, reach to the inside of the fetlock and hold the position for 10-15 seconds. Release the stretch and reward your horse with the treat.[1]
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    Repeat the stretches on both sides. In order to prevent your horse becoming one-sided or pulled out of shape, be sure to stretch them on both sides. Follow the aforementioned directions for stretching downwards and straight back on both the right and left side.[2]

Method 2
Stretching Your Horse’s Legs

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    Stretch your horse’s front legs. Stand to the side of your horse, and cue them to lift one of their front legs. Pull it forward so that it is fully extended with little-to-no bend in the knee, and the hoof close to the ground. Hold their leg in this position for 10-15 seconds, or as long as your horse is able.
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    Stretch your horse’s shoulder. Standing to the side of the front legs again, cue your horse to lift one of their front legs. Pick it up and bring it forward, with a little bend in the knee. Then, hold their leg just under their knee and lift it up so that it has a 90 degree angle bend, while the lower half of the leg is hanging freely. Rotate this leg in a circular motion 3-5 times in the direction of the other leg.
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    Stretch your horse’s hind leg backwards. Move to your horse’s backside and stand facing one of their back legs. Cue them to lift their leg, and keep the hoof extended outwards (the same way you would if you were going to pick it). Hold the lower half of their leg, and slowly extend it backwards and downwards. Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds.
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    Stretch your horse’s hind leg forwards. Ask your leg to pick up their foot as you stand next to them, and grab it just below the knee. Pull their leg forwards a bit and slightly diagonally without losing all the bend in their knee. Hold this stretch for 10-15 seconds and then slowly bring the horse’s leg back into the resting position.[3]

Method 3
Stretching Your Horse’s Back

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    Stretch your horse’s back and hips. Stand just behind your horse and to the side, close to their body so that they cannot kick you. Starting at the top of your horse’s back at the start of the tail, scratch the muscular sections on either side of the tail/spine, about four inches away from the center. Scratch this area downwards until your horse lifts their hips/back and tucks their rear end. Hold pressure for 20-30 seconds to maintain the stretch, and then release.
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    Stretch your horse’s back and stomach. Perform the horse version of a crunch by standing to the side of your horse and tickling the bottom of their belly near where you would place the girth. Continue tickling/applying pressure until the horse lifts its back in response. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds, and then move further back down the stomach to stretch the entire topline.[4]
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    Stretch your horse’s lower back. Stand to the side of your horse’s back leg, and cue them to lift their foot. Pick up their hoof, and stretch their leg forward while gently lifting their leg in the process. Pull their leg forward so that the tip of their hoof touches the back of the knee on their front leg of the same side. Hold this for a few seconds, and then slowly bring the leg back down into position.[5]


  • It's easier to perform these stretches if the horse is warmed up a bit, so walk them around for 5-10 minutes before doing the stretches for the best results.
  • Remember to always repeat each stretch on either side.
  • Always ease the horse into a stretch rather than pulling them directly into a full stretch and never stretch past what is comfortable for them - stretching incorrectly can do damage and make a horse reluctant to allow you to stretch them in the future


  • Talk to your vet or trainer before beginning to stretch your horse, as you could cause serious muscle damage if any of the stretches are performed incorrectly.
  • Ask for the help of a trained friend in stretching your horse if your feel uncomfortable with performing the exercises on your own.
  • Never place your fingers under the foot of the horse when performing a stretch - if they lose their balance or are uncomfortable and put the foot down you could break your fingers. Instead, grip firmly but gently around the pastern.
  • When stretching a hind leg behind the horse, do not stand facing the front of the horse (as illustrated in the article) as you could get kicked in the face. Instead, stand facing towards the back of the horse as if you are going to pick out the hind feet

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Categories: Horse Care | Horse Health