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Shoulder Circles & Stretches
Stand the horse up on a level non slip surface. Firstly lift the front leg, stand to the side of the shoulder, support the leg with your hand nearest the horse passing round the inside of the upper limb and grasping the cannon bone just below the knee. The outside hand should pass round the outside of the lower limb grasping the fetlock. Maintain the bend in the leg so the cannon bone remains parallel to the ground. With your knees slightly bent and your back straight take the shoulder in a large circle, initially moving the limb in toward the horse’s chest then forward, out , back and returning to the start. Try to keep the movement fluid. When first introducing the stretch make a small circle and as the horse relaxes gradually increase the size of the circle. Repeat on both sides doing 5 to 10 on each side.
From the start position, keeping the leg flexed up so the lower limb remains parallel to the ground, move the limb out away from the body as far as the horse will comfortably allow and then hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Again return to the start position and keeping the cannon bone parallel to the ground take the limb back toward the hindquarters as far as the horse will comfortably allow and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat both stretches a few times on each side.
Next reposition your hands, place the inside hand under the knee, let the lower leg drop then place the outside hand under the fetlock or pastern. Gently straighten the leg forward, positioning your body so you are facing the horse’s chest. Ensure that the leg remains very slightly bent supporting under the knee, do not hold the bottom of the leg under the toe as this will over extend the leg and should the horse pull away, may result in injury to the leg or shoulder. Extend the leg as much as the horse will allow, you may need to stretch the leg forward a bit then hold allowing the horse to relax then extend the leg a bit more. As the leg approaches the limit of the stretch bring the limb very slightly across toward the other side of the body and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch a few times on each side. If the horse resists try not to fight with the leg, flex the leg back to the start position and try again but ask for less extension and keep the movement very slow.