Bow Crunch Mountain goat Jambette Plateau Ramener
Stretching the neck
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Stretching Exercises

Stretching exercises are unique in that they don’t just make the muscles of your horse more supple and flexible, but above all with the exercises described in this section, the horse stretches his body symmetrically. By adding stretching exercises to your training, your horse won’t just be able to contract his muscles easier in collection, but you’ll also be able to lengthen them again by alternating collection with stretches.

Stretching at liberty has the added benefit that horses soon will start to like the exercises. The positions that the horse is in when doing these movements isn’t just very healthy, it’s also very pleasant for the horse because they will stretch in the same way when they have slept or just feel a bit stiff, just like cats and dogs do. Don’t be surprised if your horse starts to offer the stretches on his own during the training sessions! He probably won’t just do it because it’s an easy way to earn a treat, but also because the stretches are self-rewarding exercises.

Bow Stretch Mountain goat
Bow
Stretch
Mountain goat
The stretches that are described in this section, are the following:
  • Bow: the horse stretches his frontlegs diagonally out in front of him, opening the shoulder joints.
  • Stretch: the horse has his hindlegs stretched out behind him, opening up the joints of the hindquarters.
  • Mountain goat: the horse movest his hind feet right up to his front feet, stretching the spine and contracting the belly muscles.
  • Plateau: standing on the plateau with one or two legs opens the shoulders and raises the withers and in that is a good preparation for collection.
  • Jambette: the frontleg is raised horizontally in front of the chest - the only not-symmetrical stretch, even though you should train it on both sides.
  • Ramener: flexing the poll vertically and holding the 'on the bit' pose that this creates. Can be done in halt or in movement.
  • Stretching the neck down: the horse lowers his head to the ground. Can be done in halt and in movement, relaxes a tense horse and lengthens the muscles in neck and back.
Plateau Jambette with the cordeo Ramener with the cordeo
One foot on the plateau
Jambette
Ramener
In practice, stretches will soon become a regular part of your Natural Dressage training sessions, not just because they look nice or because they’re so healthy but most of all because your horse will enjoy doing them so much!
Read, write and ask more about Natural Dressage at the Art of Natural Dressage forum.
For info (in Dutch) on clickertraining and the book Vrijheidsdressuur: www.vrijheidsdressuur.info
© of this site, pictures and texts: Miriam Nieuwe Weme