I have added a stretch to my series of daily equine stretches. This one is the easiest because I don’t have to do anything except hang a hay net as high as I can reach. Having to reach up to grab hay pieces and rip mouthfuls out sideways, causes the scaleneus muscles at the base of the horse’s neck and the poll muscles to be stretched. These muscles are not stretched by doing riding ‘long and low’, but in fact strengthened. And the adage is that it is better to have strong stretched muscles than it is to have strong un-stretched muscles.
The other thing that happens when you hang hay that high is that the horse dives back to the ground to pick up all the bits that fell out of the hay net. So, the continuous up and down movement over the half hour it takes to eat a biscuit of hay is daily yoga for your horse’s neck!
The other muscles that benefit from the Giraffe Stretch are the ones under the neck such as the brachiocephalicus, sternomandibular and omohyoideus and deep muscles such as the longus colli. For a full description of the research into the benefits of this stretch read this article.
If you are worried about hay dust causing respiratory problems, you could wet down any hay used for this stretch.