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Carrot Stretches

Three quick exercises to help increase your horse's flexibilty.

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1. CARROT STRETCHES – Break a few carrots (or any horse treat) into small pieces so that you have enough to reward about 12 stretches (six on each side). Stand about where your leg would be if you were riding. Show the carrot piece to your horse and use it to encourage him to reach around to where you’re standing. Note how far your horse can comfortably stretch, and record it in your horse log. After practicing these stretches for a month, compare your “before and after” results.  

STRETCH #1 - Hold the carrot about midway down your horse’s barrel, where the girth would sit. When he reaches around to grab the carrot, try to keep him from snatching it and whipping back. Aim to keep his head there for at least three seconds, stretching through his neck and into the opposite shoulder. Repeat this stretch three times on each side.  

STRETCH #2 – This is similar to Stretch No. 1, but hold the carrot higher up on your horse’s barrel – approximately where the corner edge of your saddle would be. 

STRETCH #3 - Hold the carrot on the outside of your horse’s front foot, right at the hoof. Encourage him to reach down and stretch his neck out to grab his reward.

Add a nice neck scratch between stretches, and your horse will be very happy to see you the next time you visit!

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Reader Comments

janice    International

11/22/2014 12:50:30 PM

my horse steps back alltime to get to carrot

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

7/23/2014 11:26:28 PM

I always wonder why people's horses stand still for this. My horse is very flexible but if I try something like this he just turns his whole body around.

Laina    Pewaukee, WI

1/2/2011 3:48:37 PM

I do this with my horse. It has not caused bad habits such as snatching food or nipping. Many people believe that any hand feeding leads to this type of behavior. This is one of the great horse myths that lives on. If you are letting the horse call the shots, as in, hand over the food or else, it would be trouble. Done correctly, it is fine.

Patricia    Largo Canyon, NM

1/2/2011 3:24:49 AM

I do positive reinforcement training with food so I am not opposed to handfeeding. But I think Ralph is right in saying getting the horse to grab it from difficult positions teaches the horse bad things. Better to make a target for the animal to touch, then reward it for doing so.

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