I wanted to write a quick post about a product that we've started using with Prairie. It's made by Equicore Concepts, and is sort of a mix between a pilates machine and a pessoa system intended to help engage your horse's core.
Our lameness vet (who is the one treating Prair for her subtle Kissing Spine) has been really impressed with the product and since a couple other horses in the barn have used it with success I'm optimistic about it's potential for Prairie.
Basically it's a saddle pad that allows you to clip two big stretchy bands to it (one band goes under the belly, the other goes behind the haunch). In theory the belly band encourages lift while the butt band provides resistance and encourages stepping under. All of this encourages the use of those pesky topline muscles that Prairie likes to avoid.
I will admit that it really doesn't look like much when you hook it all up. But I was warned by my vet to literally only use the system for 5 minutes when first introducing it. She has had clients who hopped on and went through their regular 45 min routine only to end up with horses so exhausted and sore that they needed several days off to recover. Prair makes it very clear after a few minutes that she is working harder than she would like. When I ask her to walk and reverse direction I get one of those mare looks like "Seriously. We're still going?? You'll regret this..."
I imagine this is similar to my overconfidence the first time I did a Tracy Anderson video and scoffed at making "little circles" with my arms and 3lb weights. I thought I could do that all day... turns out 2 minutes had me crying while I brushed my teeth for the rest of the week... oops.
Prair has been getting her 5-10 minutes a day in the bands for about a week now. So far we just lunge her in them and then remove them prior to mounting, but they are designed to also be used under saddle. I guess some horses are very agitated by them at first (makes sense), but Prair must have thought they felt like a nice hug as she hasn't ever batted an eye at them.
I can tell that her back is much softer and more engaged when I get on after 5 minutes in the bands, than when . I know that some horses feel that way if you lunge them normally (or in a bit rig) and then ride, but with Prair she will just slink her back down and invert her way around the lunge circle.. The bands seem to really help smoosh her together and warm up the right muscles.
N swears they saved another horse of hers who suffered from a weak back, so I'm absolutely willing to give it a go.
I bit the bullet and bought Prair her own system today (the visa really is angry with me..) since the one we've been borrowing belongs to another horse in rehab and we'll never be able to travel with it. I figure this thing is about 1/2 the cost of one set of injections so if it at all helps the cause, it's worth it.
Has anyone else ever used these things? I will say I'm moderately impressed. Prair has been using her back so much more in the last month I'm quite hopeful that we are on a good path to building and maintaining the strength she needs to be comfortable.
Already she's much more patient in her jump and much more willing to land softly. It really is just way too much fun to ride her right now.
Will report back on continued progress with the Equiband process... but so far I'm liking it as part of Prair's routine.