Thursday, January 30, 2014

Equiband System

Thanks for everyone's kinds words on P.  I definitely have conflicted feelings on selling her, but I know that ultimately its the right thing both for her, and for me in terms of me having less on my plate when this baby shows up!

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.


  1. I had not heard of this! Very interesting. Looks harmless enough. How snug/stretch are the bands?

    1. They are VERY snug. the bands themselves remind me of the ones you see in regular gyms (lol, if I ever WENT TO ONE!). To get the right resistance, you measure the distance from clip to clip, then adjust the band to half that length. So if the butt band is 60", you'd stretch 30" of band and fasten it. It's tough and definitely tuckers the horses out pretty quick.

  2. First time I've heard of it. Interesting... I'm surprised horses don't think of the band as a bucking strap. Neat concept though. Keep us up to date on how Prair does with it :-)

  3. My dressage instructor uses something similar on horses prone to faking contact and not engaging properly. It really seems to work!

  4. You know, I have a confession - I have for years used my own homemade system of a "butt rope" both while lunging and while riding. Literally, a home made version of this system (with no belly band however). I have an older horse who is really long in the back, and I find using this tool every once in a while really does help him step under himself! I'd be interested to try it with the stretchy band though - keep the updates coming please!

  5. A horse at our barn was also recently diagnosed with kissing spine and has one of these! I have only ridden him once but the owner seems to like it!

  6. Oooh this is very interesting! I'll have to investigate - Paddy is one who doesn't like to engage his back much (yet). He also blows through side reins on the longe line, so I'm curious about alternatives. Looks neat!

  7. Hmm. I'm very interested by this. I'm also intrigued that you can ride in it, as opposed to just lunging in it. It seems like a bit of a "get fit quick" scheme, so I'll be interested to hear more about your experiences with it. My horse loves to evade any amount of work. Maybe this would help

  8. Please keep the feedback coming, Kika also avoids engaging her hind end & fakes "working".
    Shall have to investigate & see if I can source this pad here.

  9. I've heard of using a standing wrap looped behind the butt to engage the back end. The poor kid's fancy toy?

  10. How cool! What a great concept! Keep us posted! :)

  11. What I really like about this set up is the resistance. I actually use a similar concept with our Frenchie who has spine/hind end issues and the resistance bands really help build the right muscles. I think the tension from the bands is what separates this product from a Pessoa type system. So far I really like what I see. I don't see it as a gimmick at this point since it isn't hobbling the horse or forcing a frame, Rather encouraging muscle development. I'll be sure to give some updates!

  12. Never heard of this system! It looks very interesting and I certainly see how it makes the horse work. Heaven knows there are some who would NOT be okay with an "extra girth" on them, though, unless they're Western-broke. I'm glad Prairie thought it was fine and also that it's seeming to help!

  13. That is COOL! I'd love to borrow one to try it. I bet it'd help Simon a lot.

  14. Very interesting concept. I can see how you would have to have a pretty broke horse to use it though. Not all horses are going to be okay with something squeezing their butts and bellies.

  15. I finally got a chance to read more about this. I actually met with Narelle Stubbs to get exercises for Stampede's back last year. They mention her on the website, saying that her exercises brought about the product. I will have to call her and see what she says about this for stampede.
    I previously had the thought that I could take my pessoa knockoff and somehow ride with the back strap, but I'm not really sure how to secure it to my saddle safely. I will say though that stampede loves to lunge in his rig. It's totally bizarre because he was always a horrible lunger. It also wears him out by the end, and the Equiband sounds like it's tighter so even more work for the horse.
    Do you plan to jump in it? I saw they mentioned jumping on the site.
    Very interested to hear more about your journey with this product. Always looking for ways to help Stampede feel better!


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