Stretching Legs

Stretching Legs

Safekeeping: Stretching Legs

By Ruthann Smith
© 2010, Ruthann Smith, All rights reserved.
Originally Published in Equine Journal

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Stretching Legs

Caution: pull the reins over the head. an arm through the reins hurts your shoulder when he pulls back and you can’t keep hold. fold the reins and hold them between the fingers of one hand. cup that palm behind the knee. support the toe with your other hand. be sure he doesn’t put his foot through anything!

Stretching horse’s legs before mounting is routine for good grooms. It can even improve performance. If the horse feels good, he not only wants to play. He can also move freely. So, please consider stretching legs, but only and always with extreme caution.

Stretching Legs

Always support the leg as you gently lower it, allowing the horse to balance. Remember: reins over the neck, use two hands and watch he does not put his foot through anything.

The idea is to stretch the skin under the girth or cinch so it is not folded and pinching your horse. In the barn, position the saddle and pull the girth safely snug so the saddle does not slide. A saddle that slides under the belly can cause an accident. Right before mounting, pull the girth tighter. Then, stretch the legs to ensure the horse’s comfort.

You’ll need both hands. When you lower the leg, you don’t want to drop the reins. So, fold the reins and hold them between two fingers in one hand. Support behind the knee with that palm. The other hand supports the toe. Using two hands will also help you feel when each leg is extended far enough.

Heads Up:

  • Organize your reins carefully. A foot through them can be catastrophic.
  • Allow the horse time to balance before lifting and lowering his legs.
  • Gently support the leg as you lift and lower it.

After your reins are organized, ask the horse to lift one front leg as if you were intending to pick his hoof. When he lifts the leg, move in front and to the side of the shoulder. Allow the horse time to redistribute his weight to balance. Then, gently and slowly support and extend each front leg forward, but not past the point of comfort. Don’t let the leg drop. When done properly, horses enjoy this stretch. If you let their leg slam down or yank too hard, they are not going to appreciate your efforts. Always support the leg.

Proper turnout requires tack fitting well. A horse that is dressed appropriately and moves easily can be a willing partner. Fashion follows function. So, be sure your horse is comfortable to enjoy his big heart.

Saddle Comforts

Bio Pic

Ruthann Smith has spent a lifetime studying sound horsemanship- both as a groom for top international horses and as a renowned braider. Quietly twisting manes atop a ladder, she watched and learned in some of the best stables in the world.

As her passion for great grooming grew, Ruthann became focused on researching, collecting and sharing the best practices of the world’s keenest horsemen. Ultimately, Ruthann used her vast experience to develop exceptional equine grooming products to help raise the bar of horsemanship.

The knowledge she dispenses and the products Ruthann developed solve age-old grooming issues. Making quality horse care easier, they have received the highest honors in the equine industry*. Her Lucky Braids for Top Turnout coat care and braiding products are the best, most versatile, cost-effective and easiest solutions available on the market today.

Now Ruthann offers her LOVE, LOVE Guarantee. If not totally thrilled with a product she developed, Ruthann will refund you in full, regardless of where you purchased it.

It’s her life’s mission to empower horses by educating, motivating and equipping their people to be true horsemen. You can access Ruthann’s tips at: The Grooming Resource on, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and her Horsemanship Clinics.

*After testing 350 products, Lucky Braids All-In-One Horse Shampoo was named product of the year by Horse Journal, the “Consumer Reports” of the industry. They also named Lucky Braids Shampoo and Top Pick for greys and whites. Lucky Braids specialized braiding yarn also got stellar reviews.