When I went to MSU to get Stampede’s back injected again, I also met with Narelle Stubbs, who palpated Stampede all over and recommended specific exercises to benefit his back issues. She provided me with a copy of her book, Activate your horse’s core (the link is to Amazon), which goes through even more exercises than I am using for Stampede. I would recommend purchasing the book if you are interested in learning all of the exercises. In the book is also a dvd that goes through all of the exercises, actually showing you what the horse looks like doing them.
I also want to mention that you should check with your vet or consult with a physical therapist in particular if your horse has an injury or issue that may affect which of these exercises he should be doing. As you will see from my explanations, Stampede has some specific recommended (and not recommended) exercises because of his kissing spines.
One thing I’ve found is that it’s best to keep your carrots at full length but easiest if they are cut in half lengthwise. Otherwise Stampede sometimes gets upset or over-eager because he can’t get the carrot to break off easily while he’s in his stretch position. This happens in the rounding exercises in particular.
In the mobilization exercises section, there are several rounding exercises, several lateral bending exercises, and the neck extension exercise.
For the rounding exercises, the horse puts his chin to his chest, between his knees, or between his fetlocks.
The bend in the knee is okay as long as they are still lifting in the back and not tricking you.
Lateral Bending Exercises
The various lateral bending exercises are chin to girth, chin to flank, and chin to hind fetlock. With Stampede’s kissing spines, chin to girth is not a good one for him. I was told to focus on a range between his hock and his fetlock for that reason. He is always supposed to keep his head low in an effort to stretch out the ligaments and muscles along his spine and increase the space between his spinous processes.
Neck Extension Exercise
You have to either have a second person to push back on your horse’s chest or a stall of sufficient height. Then just bait the horse to lean against it and stretch his neck to get the carrot. Again, with Stampede the emphasis is on keep his head low to stretch out his spine.
Jessica and I had great rides with the boys Thursday night in the field. They were both very good. Friday I flatted Stampede in the field again. He was a little distracted by all the people riding out there and coming from different directions, but as long as I kept him focused he was really good. Saturday I had a great ride on Mr. P in the field. He was nice and forward and using himself well. If only all rides could be like that for him!
Both of the boys are looking great right now. Stampy is looking extra handsome since his weight is back up and he has a shiny and dappled coat. I’ll have to get a picture of handsome Mr. P soon too, before he starts growing in his winter coat.