Carrot Stretches After Riding

When you ride your horse its muscles work hard to support you and perform whatever tasks you ask of it.

You can help keep your horses muscles healthy and limber by asking your horse to do simple stretches at the end of your session. (Video in the comments)

Baited Stretches, often called Carrot Stretches, target muscles involved in the stabilization of the neck, core and topline. They require balance and coordination and activate the abdominal and back muscles as your horse bends to reach its treat while lengthening their entire outside line from their poll to their hind end.

These stretches will help your horse maintain or improve suppleness and range of motion (ROM) which can improve performance and overall comfort as well as reduce their potential for injury. When used consistently these movements have also been shown to increase the strength and size of back muscles.

All ROM stretches should be done when your horse’s muscles are warm and warmed up, so after they have exercised, or after a good grooming session and a 10-15 minute walk to warm the tissues and increase circulation and suppleness.

I like to begin incorporating carrot stretches by introducing 2 two natural movements; rounding (flexion) and side to side (lateral) bending. When they are adept at those you can consider adding new challenges.

How to:

Find a safe area with level, non-slip footing.

Choose a treat that your horse enjoys enough to work for and that will keep your fingers safe from sharp teeth.

Start with your horse standing as square and balanced as you can. It’s feet should remain in pretty much the same place for the entire exercise, although if your horse needs to reposition into a better balance to reach the treat, that’s always encouraged.

Show your horse the treat and, as it reaches for it, bring the treat down to the outside of your horse’s ankle. This creates a lengthening stretch and a centering core exercise. Keep an eye on how your horse is using its body and controlling its balance – you’d like to guide your horse to stay centered and upright rather lean to the side to reach for the treat. When the horse is in the desired position, it gets the treat.

Show your horse the treat and as it reaches for it, bring the treat down between your horse’s ankles.

Move to the other side of your horse and repeat the last 2 steps. Both the side stretch and the between the legs stretch should be performed from both sides of the horse.

Start by performing each stretch 1 or 2x, a few days a week. Encourage the horse to hold each position for several seconds, followed by a moment to allow them to relax their muscles and return to neutral before the next attempt. As your horse becomes more accustomed to the exercises, and becomes more capable, you can gradually increase how many you ask for and how long your horse holds each position.

If your horse is struggling or losing form the stretch may be too difficult or they may be tiring or sore somewhere.

Follow your horse’s lead and never ask them to do more than they are comfortable with.

Lengthening tight muscles and fascia happens in tiny increments over a long period of time.

If you’re really having a hard time getting your horse to do these 2 movements and aren’t sure why please seek help from your equine Vet, bodywork specialist or an experienced trainer.


Your horse will not be able to see the treat near the end of its nose – use one hand to touch the treat your horse’s nose just above the top lip and use the other hand on the bridge of its nose to gently guide their head into position.


Lick treats can convince your horse to stay in position a little longer while keeping your fingers safe. I’ve posted a few options below. *Please be conscious of your own horse’s dietary needs and choose accordingly.

Many horses look forward to baited stretches creating a fun, positive, healthy suppling exercise for you and your horse at the end of a session together.

If you use any of the above links a small portion of the purchase will come me and help support the creation of more educational articles like this one.

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