Front Leg Extension Stretch To Improved Your Horse’s Range Of Motion

by Lisa Carter on February 26, 2013

Front leg extension stretch for the horse showing proper safe body mechanics -

Most people are familiar with the classic form of the front leg extension stretch as being performed by standing in front of and facing the horse.  However, this method loses its effectiveness in improving range of motion to the lower portion of the limb and sets both you and your horse up for potential injury.  In the below video clip, I'd like to demonstrate an alternative form of the front leg extension stretch more effectively stretches the entire length of the limb and offers a better position with regard to your own body mechanics.

Horses do not have a knee cap in their front legs.  What is commonly referred to as the horse's "knee" is actually the equivalent of the wrist in the human.  Their patella is actually located in the hind limb and is part of the stifle.  Because they do not have a knee cap to help prevent hyper-extension of the forelimb, it is important to support the forelimb during stretching.  This form of the extension stretch supports the horse's limb in a safe manner for both you and your horse.  And by adding support at the toe and encouraging our horse to push through the heel, they are able to actively participate in the stretching process and stretch more completely through the extensors, including the deep digital flexor tendon and suspensory ligament. 

I teach this as a basic maintenance stretch to all of my clients and it is especially helpful for horses with old injuries of the forelimb and shoulder which has limited extension of the forelimb.  It's also a key stretch in helping horses with the condition known as "club foot" or excessive upright growth.  Stop by the Facebook page and let me know this stretch works for you. 

Lisa Carter, Certified Equine Massage Therapist, with her Arabian mare Siofhice.

Lisa Carter is a Certified Equine Massage Therapist (CEMT), with multiple certifications from several different equine bodywork schools.  She incorporates her knowledge and experience with Parelli Natural Horsemanship, equine bodywork and as a veterinary technician to provide her clients with the resources they need to make informed decisions for their horses.  She encourages and facilitates network building between equine health care professionals, working together to find the best combination of therapies to meet the needs of the "whole horse".  

Are you ready to get better results with your horse?  Put your equine health care team to work so you and your horse can be doing what you were meant to.  Click here to get started!

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Jim Davis August 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

I hope my daughter will use this technique on her dressage horse.  He needs more extension.


Lisa Carter Lisa Carter August 21, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I really think she’ll like the results if she can incorporate this in to her routine Jim.  Thanks for visiting!



Adara August 16, 2014 at 10:41 pm

WOW I never knew…  I must try with Blaze!!  =D

Lisa Carter Lisa Carter August 18, 2014 at 10:28 am

Let us know how it works for you :-)


Debbi February 3, 2015 at 9:43 am

Hi Lisa…I would like to see this stretch from the side and how much "stretch/pull" are you applying?..thanks..anxious to use this for increasing range of modtion and addressing a club foot.

Lisa Carter Lisa Carter February 4, 2015 at 2:31 pm

HI Debbie, I don’t have a video from the side view on this stretch currently, but will keep that in mind and add it when I can.  I don’t put a lot of pressure at all when I do this stretch.  I’m just “suggesting” to the horse to bring that leg forward.  The most important step of this stretch is to hold the toe steady so that the horse can then “push” against your hand and stretch through that heel.  NEVER ask for more than the horse is ready to give.  If you meet a lot of resistance than you may be asking for too much.  They will get better at it the more often you do it.



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