> Saddlebred Training Tips: Horse training tip. Stretchies

Friday, January 11, 2008

Horse training tip. Stretchies

Most everyone who trains a Saddlebred. Morgan. or Arabian are familiar with a training aid called Stretchies. These are two leather dog collars covered in lambs wool, fitted on the horses ankles with a piece of surgical tubing attached between them. The idea is that the resistance of the tubing will build muscles and as a result cause the horse to become more athletic with his legs. Stretching the tubing will cause the muscles to develop. When a horse feels resistance his tendency is to push against the direction of the pressure. This is well and good and it will warm up the muscle,but there is more to the story.
Sixty years ago there weren't any stretchy tubing. The old master horsemen used a piece of rope. What! didn't the horse fall down. I am sure some did from time to time. The point is that this was not about stretching anything. A horse who is stretching the tubing is cheating them. This was all about limiting the distance between steps, or stride. When you cluck to a horse and ask him to move up, in order to go faster he has to increase his stride. If you limit that stride or the distance he can step and ask him to step on and cluck to him, he has no where to go but put his leg up higher. Different lengths of rope were uses for different speeds. If you wanted the big motion to manifest it self at a high speed then longer rope was used.
I am not suggesting anyone go back to using the rope but the principles still apply. The length of your stretchy should be compatible with the horse's stride and the speed that you want to have the most effect. Each horse should have his own individual length.
The second effect is to get a horse off the bridle. A horse that is trying to balance in the stretchies wont be running through the bridle.
Remember this and don't take the Stretchies for grant it. There is a whole other layer of skill level to learn. Once you think about it you can see this is more complex than just stretching the tubing.
Good Luck

Rich Swiger

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