Belly lift "stretch" question, and would a massage benefit?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-30-2011, 06:41 AM Thread Starter
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Belly lift "stretch" question, and would a massage benefit??

Been trying to do the belly lift stretch, where you press on the belly and horse is supposed to raise back and topline. Nothing happens. I press and press, I try light touch. Horsey's back doesn't move.

He is sound, but older and has arthritic hocks that are managed with injections every 6-9 months. He is showing no signs of needing hock injections right now at the 7 month mark. We ride 3-4 times a week, flatwork and low crossrails, and trail ride at least once a week 30-60 minutes. He is a happy boy, but in our first dressage test we got "horse is stiff in the back" comments. Otherwise we did great, placing 4th! :)

Anyway, he does lack topline. I am concerned that he doesn't "remember" how to use his back if that makes sense. How to really engage it. I looked at the "horse yoga" video someone posted where they demo'ed the belly stretch, and no WAY is my horse raising his back at all.

How hard do I have to press?? I am pressing really hard right now - maybe I should tickle him with a feather?? Does he have to be standing square?

We do carrot stretches and he goes back pretty far - ALMOST to the stifle. We also trot poles sometimes and do long and low work as much as possible.

And finally, was thinking of scheduling a massage for him. I would have to think it would help loosen him up. Would love any thoughts. He moves lovely otherwise and doesn't seem to be in pain, and believe me, when he is sore or needs his hocks done, he tells me.
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post #2 of 7 Old 04-30-2011, 07:40 AM
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I use a hoof pick very lightly for the belly lifts. My older mare has no reaction if I just use my hands. I bet a massage would be great for any horse, my mare really benefitted from Accupunture and Chiropractics after she had a shoulder injury last fall.
She does carrot stretches too.:)
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post #3 of 7 Old 05-03-2011, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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Update. So I tried the hoof pick and my hands. Both light and harder, different areas of his belly. Out of at least 15 tries the last few days, he only lifted his back once and it was after riding while he was eating (head down in pan).

Should I be concerned that he is not lifting his back with these belly lifts?? Is it abnormal, or do some horses simply not do it? Does his head need to be down?
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post #4 of 7 Old 05-03-2011, 04:18 PM
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Belly lifts are best done with two people. One on either side of the horse. Use a rolled towel - start at the front and work your way back. Lift slow and gentle, lower, move towel back a teeny bit and repeat.

Also excellent for gas colic. Helps shift the bubbles.
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post #5 of 7 Old 05-03-2011, 04:24 PM
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I've never tried it but I read about someone buying the little rakes that you buy for kiddies to play in sand pits, something like this

found that worked well.
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post #6 of 7 Old 05-06-2011, 12:19 AM
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I have been doing the lifts for my new rescue aged gelding to improve his topline --- he lifts well if I use my fingertips with a steady pressure under his belly... I am wondering how often people do them? I groom him every night and ask him to lift his back about 10 times in that session - is that enough?
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-06-2011, 12:23 AM
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I would do more than just the belly lifts with him, to start out with to see if that helps limber him up.

Here's a great video to show you all the different stretches you can do:

I too use the Hoof Pick with Nelson to get him to lift his tummy. Just lightly, but that's enough to get him to lift up.

See if starting out with the different stretches first, helps before you get to the belly lift.

AND if he can't do the belly lift, perhaps he needs a Chiro adjustment? I say this because, my Chiro showed me how to use the stretches to decipher when I need to call her to come out to do an adjustment. For example, when I have Nelson reach towards his hind end, if he can only get to a certain point, that means his back is out somewhere, hindering him from being able to reach to the point he should beable to.

Does that make sense?

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