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Equine Exercises Part 1 of 4: Belly Lift

How to Help Your Horse Between Chiropractic or Acupuncture Visits

by Dr. Calsey Grant

Clients often ask me what they can do as an owner or barn manager with their horse in-between times that I am there for chiropractic care or acupuncture.

There are several exercises you can do with your horse that will support the work I have done as well as help extend the amount of time needed between treatments. Not to mention, it’s a great way to bond with your horse.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out four different exercises you and your horse can do on your own.  

This routine of stretches and exercises is simple, yet effective in helping to reduce tightness, relieve pain, and extend the effectiveness of your horse’s chiropractic adjustments. Enjoy!

Belly Lift

This exercise is typically known as a “belly lift”, though it mobilizes and strengthens much more than it is named for. To start, stand to either side, facing your horse and keep near the shoulder. Each horse has different levels of sensitivity, so start with gentle pressure perhaps with just your fingertips, until you determine how they will respond. If more pressure is needed, you could use a comb or blunt end of a pen.

Start applying pressure in the middle of the chest between the forelimbs. Add pressure until you see a response, then slowly slide your hand back toward where the girth would sit. Comparing to the resting picture, she has responded by lifting her sternum and withers.


Belly Rub Exercise with Dr. Calsey Grant 01








My hand has moved further back now and she is responding by lifting through her thoracic area, from just behind the withers through where the saddle would sit.

Belly Rub Exercise with Dr. Calsey Grant 03








As my hand moves further back I’m careful to remain standing close to her neck and side. She is now lifting through her thoracolumbar junction and you can appreciate her abdominals flexing (blue arrow).

Belly Rub Exercise with Dr. Calsey Grant 04