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Hind leg stretch

The hind leg of horses provides the power and propulsion for movements. It's a big job to move a 500kg animal forward and as a result they can become tight and restricted. Stretching the hind legs forwards can help release hamstring and gluteal tightness, increase stride length, release the lower back and improve coordination of the limbs.

This stretch targets the gastrocnemius, gracilis hamstrings (bicep femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus), glutes and caudal region of the longissimus dorsi.

1) Pick up the hind foot, you can either hold the front of the hoof (be careful of your fingers in case they want to quickly put their foot down) or use both hands around the fetlock/bulb of the foot

2) Aim to keep the foot low to the floor and guide the leg forward approximately to where the leg would be placed in a normal stride

3) When the leg is stretched forward, you are looking for a gentle heel drop to fully extend the leg - this is equivalent to keeping your legs straight while touching your toes!

4) Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat on the other leg

Some horses may be initially resistant with stretching the hind leg - be patient and gentle! If your horse is resistant don't ask for as much forward stretch to begin, once they have achieved the heel drop you will be able to guide them forward to achieve more of a stretch.

On the other hand, there are horses who are very keen to power through to the heel drop so be careful of your fingers!! It's best to give the majority of support around the fetlock and just guide the heel drop from the front of the hoof for these creatures.

If you horse is achieving the hind leg stretch well already, try lifting the hoof towards the knee of the front leg - this deepens the stretch through the Hamstring Achillies complex as seen in the second picture.

Please ensure your horse is properly warmed up before trying either of these stretches. It's best to do stretches post exercise or after a good groom of the target area.

For more info on Becky and her services and more useful tips, follow her on Instagram @rosevetphysio

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