The Olympics have just ended, and we have watched some of the best Equine athletes of the world compete – horses with incredible balance, movement, and core stability.
When you think about these horses, you might not automatically think about the Equiband system. Because that is just for rehab, right? Wrong! The Equiband system is great for improving your horses’ core muscles, even when your horse is not injured. Some of the medal-winning horses on these Olympics are regular users of the Equiband!
What is it?
If you have never heard of the Equiband before: it is a customized saddle pad with resistance bands designed by a team of veterinarians, physiotherapists, and scientists to optimize the core stability of your horse.
The Equiband works mostly on proprioceptive feedback: the awareness of the movement and position of the body. Due to the material of the resistance bands, it gives optimal stimulation of nerve receptors in the skin. As a result of this stimulation, the abdominal muscles, deep core muscles, and hindquarters muscles are activated. This will improve the stability of the spine and engagement of the hind.
How do I use it?
The Equiband system can be used in training under saddle, lunging, groundwork, and walking in hand. There are also a lot of trotters that use the Equiband on the track.
Because you can use it with almost every type of training, it is easily incorporated into a training program.
It is important to use the Equiband system with the guidance of a veterinarian or therapist. They can make a program on how to use the Equiband for your horse. In general, I recommend using the Equiband the first week for a maximum of 3 times, 15-20 minutes. It can be increased duration (+5 min per week) or in frequency (+ 1x/ week to max 5x/week). Of course, your vet or therapist could make a different program for your horse.
Besides the program for the Equiband (frequency, duration, and type of training), it is also crucial that the system is adjusted in the right way and there is a check that your horse reacts correctly. This can be done by your vet or therapist or by you (after the guidance of your vet/therapist). Personally, I only have had two horses that reacted negatively to the Equiband and hundreds that reacted positively. These two rehab horses were still too painful and needed (more) treatment first before they could be trained more.
When do I use it?
After an injury, there can be a loss of core stability or asymmetrical development of core muscles. These muscles do not automatically develop (symmetrically) again and need specific training. Besides core exercises like carrot stretches (I will write a blog about those as well), the Equiband can be used to improve core stability. You can already start in the early phase of rehabilitation when only hand-walking is allowed.
For young horses, it is vital optimizing their core stability before they are started in ridden work. Increasing muscle strength will take some time, so be sure to start your young horse at least 4-6 weeks before ridden work with lunging, groundwork, and walking in hand with the Equiband. This is especially important for horses that are hypermobile or have a more hollow back-posture.
Taking your time for this process will prevent potential injury due to a lack of core strength to carry the rider.
How do I get it?
The Equiband is produced in the United States and distributed to different countries. On the website of Equicore Concepts, you can find the distributor for your country. If you live in the Netherlands and want more information about buying or renting an Equiband, you can contact me.