Teaching your horse to be polite while you are performing leg stretches is crucial to keeping YOU safe! A horse that paws or continually takes its leg away while you are trying to perform a stretch can injure you.
The most common problem faced by equine massage therapists is a horse that is unfamiliar with the stretching techniques and/or handling their legs in various positions. The massage therapist is then faced with taking time away from the therapy session to step the horse through the learning process which can take multiple sessions before getting to the point that the actual stretch can be performed.
Teaching your horse these handling techniques beforehand can save you and your therapist a lot of valuable therapy time.
If presented correctly, most horses are happy to please and respond appropriately when given a cue. The key is to build on whatever you are trying to teach in baby steps. Don’t always go for the end product when teaching something new to your horse.
When teaching a stretch to your horse, start at the beginning. You must be able to simply pick up the leg first in order to move to the next step. Once you can get that consistently, add the next step…hold the leg for a few seconds without the horse taking it away, and so on. Always remember to release on what you want! It’s the release that teaches.
Watch the video below for some equine massage tips to help keep you safe while teaching your horse leg stretches and to be polite while handling their legs. When you are done watching the video, hop over to my Facebook page and tell me what you think: http://www.facebook.com/HeavenlyGaitsEquineMassage.
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”.
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