Monday, December 21, 2009

Buff, Bendy, Bootylicious: Gettin' Down To It

Are you interested in equine kinesiology?

Today we really started the winter regimen of training in the indoor to make us both reach the 3-B's by spring.

I was aided in my quest for equine bendy-ness by a set of techniques my friend Laura referred me to on YouTube. This equine body-work specialist gives some great exercises for flexing your horse and basically doing some 'horsey yoga' that will align your horse's major spinal system and stretch the supporting muscles prior to riding. I was hooked right away when I saw that big horse bunch up the abs:

I did all of these exercises with John today prior to riding. Here is my report:

1. Leg lifts and bends: I am afraid of getting my hand stepped on. But he cooperated and his left shoulder is much stiffer than his right. We worked gently at flexing that left foreleg and in several stints, he got looser and more comfortable.

2. Butt massage to get back up: Did not work. John enjoyed the butt massage but he did not raise up and scrunch like the horse in the video. Instead he started eating his lead rope. I have to work on my technique here.

3. Belly scritch and hold w/5 pounds of pressure to get it raised up higher and higher: this progressed over time. At first John did not raise up at all. He is quite a slab-backed horse and that's what this regimen is all about eliminating. As time went on I got some raising and some holding. Again I need to work on this.

4. Tail pull: John LOVED THIS. He braced against the pressure and raised his head up to the heavens in joy. This was a grand success.

5. Carrot stretches: Well logistically these are hard. You need to have a horse who will stand in place and bend extremely back to his hocks. John just prefers to move his hindquarters and pursue the carrot with his food-seeking missile i.e. head. We did make some progress after I buried him in the corner of the arena for this exercise.

After all this I saddled up and rode for 45 minutes of gait, lope, back, circle, rest. I was happy with this session as we got some good quick stops and starts back to full gait, some nice bending, and some nice blowing on John's part.

Returning to my car, I discovered that both my dogs had thrown up on the back seat, for reasons I cannot comprehend. Life always does send us a little message, doesn't it??!


Petra said... horse loves his carrot stretches (or should I say his carrots) as well as getting his tail pulled...I will try the other suggested stretches with my horses tomorrow...thanks for sharing

Flying Lily said...

Petra, how do you do the carrot stretches? They were awkward for us...

eventer79 said...

Ooo, love that video. We do the carrot stretches and tail pulls as rec by the chiro. I like the shoulder stretch, will have to try that one, Solo is always tight in his shoulders!

Breathe said...

Interesting and looks like fun to try. I'm always unsure about pulling a horses tail, I imagine getting kicked and someone saying "So, let me get this straight - you were pulling your horse's tail? On purpose?"

Flying Lily said...

Eventer: The shoulder stretch was quite interesting and I will be eager to hear your results. I believe John carries a lot of tension in his neck and this gets handed down into the shoulder.

Breathe: Ha! Yes that would be a fun one to explain in the ER. I could add: "Before I pulled his tail - on purpose! - I was mashing his butt and pulling his legs around...I don't know what went wrong."

Anonymous said...

Once they figure out what you want, they usually really enjoy the exercises. Sounds like fun by all!

MysticFish said...

LOL on the dogs throwing up. I have sooo been there.

Carrot Stretches are something I do almost every time after a ride. I think doing them after a horse is warmed up is easier.. kind of like stretching your muscles when you are warm.
My horse took a little while to get it.. but now he LOVES them.. and he even goes for the carrot between the front legs which stretches the topline. I am glad I found your blog!