Horses that compete in the Grand National are trained for years and are extremely fit, completing regular horse exercises to keep them limber and nimble so they can perform to the best of their ability. I have listed a few exercises that will improve your horse’s core strength and agility.
This exercise controls and benefits the muscles that control the horse’s posture. It will also aid in stabilising the spine and pelvis, abdominal muscles and the thoracic sling.
Make sure your horse is standing square and stand facing the horse’s side, slightly behind the elbow. Place your hand in the centre of the chest, on the pectoral muscles and, with stiff fingers, apply upward pressure. Squeeze your fingers in and out until the horse responds, then move the pressure slightly back to the mid-girth area.
This time the horse should respond by lifting the thoracic area just behind the withers. The further along the belly you apply pressure, the further the saddle will lift. It is called a horse sit-up because the goal is to flatten the back by contracting the muscles.
Hold the sit-ups for 10 seconds and repeat up to ten times.
Chin to Chest
The aim of this exercise is to increase movement of upper and mid neck muscles and activate the deeper muscles.
Stand at the shoulder area when the horse is standing square and, wearing gloves, use a carrot as bait to guide the horse’s head to the centre of the chest, towards the breast bone. Initially, your horse may not be flexible enough to reach that far so you may have to gradually progress further. Repeat this up to five times daily, but give your horse time to rest in between.
Chin between the knees
The purpose of this exercise is to increase movement of mid and lower neck muscles and stimulate the deeper muscles.
Stand at the girth area when the horse is standing square and again, wearing gloves, pass a carrot through the horse’s legs from behind. The horse will then draw its head through its knees and you can gradually entice it further back, ensuring the horse is comfortable. You can repeat this up to five times a day, again allowing your horse to rest in between each time.