Some images used in this web site are reproduced by the kind permission of Horse and Rider Magazine, Bob Langrish and Stephanie Armstrong
A good way to supple up your horse before exercise and loosen off after is carrot stretches, you will need one horse, a handler, a few carrots or similar treats, polo’s are not ideal as they can result in nipped fingers!
First stand your horse on a level non slip surface - until the horse gets the idea, standing in a stable helps to prevent him cheating and moving his feet around to make the exercise easier!
The first carrot stretch requires side flexion through the neck. If necessary stand the horse parallel to a wall then using the carrot encourage the horse to bring the head round to the side so the muzzle is level with the point of the shoulder. Try to stop the horse tilting the head as this does not flex the upper cervical spine and soft tissues properly, if your horse is unable to bend round without tilting the head it may be a sign of a dysfunction in the upper cervical spine or poll. Do this stretch a couple of times to each side.
Next you can encourage the horse to bend around further toward the hip, the horse will have to head tilt to achieve this but it will serve to stretch the back as well, again repeat a couple of times on each side.
Then take the carrot down between the horses front legs. When first introducing this stretch only ask down to the knees, and as the horse gets the idea, gradually take the carrot lower. Try to keep the head and neck straight as the horse extends down. If possible stop the horse from cheating and bending a front leg as the stretch goes deeper. This will stretch the whole spine and associated soft tissues also making the horse lift the back. Again repeat the stretch a few times.