Stretching reduces muscle tension, increases the range of movement in joints and enhances circulation.
Spending time loosening your horse before you ask anything more of him will improve his suppleness and range of movement, and reduce the risk of injury.
Working the whole body
To ask your horse to stretch, lower and widen your hands and gently 'sponge' the reins with your fingers. Maintain a consistent and soft contact, and keep your leg on.
Think about creating suppleness and swing through his whole body, don't just focus on what his head and neck are doing.
If a horse's head is in the air, his back is fixed and he will be unable to use his core muscles effectively.
Working in a long and low outline is also an important tool for warming down. Five minutes' stretching at the end of a workout will help relax the muscles and help prevent the build up of lactic acid.
This article originally appeared in Horse magazine's July 2012 issue.
Love Horse Riding? Sign up to our emails for the latest news and special offers!
Ever fancied being famous? If you would like your equine partner to appear in the pages of Horse magazine, then read on and find out how to apply...
Got a Horse magazine problem? Looking for a phone number or email address to ask someone for help? Click here to find the right person