February 10, 2020

Product Review: Equicore Concepts Equiband System

My vet gave me a rough outline of what to do to help Connor's back heal.  It included a stretching routine (for him), riding in the CWD, and a recommendation to incorporate "something that encourages him to keep his hind end underneath him, like a Pessoa"
Pessoa
I didn't mind the idea of a Pessoa, but I wanted something that I could use while under saddle too. In the past, my trainer has used her HorseHugger on Connor, but even when we got creative with adjustments, it always felt like it was a bit too big for him. 

Apparently they're not made anymore?  Fun fact: It was NK's trainer that came up with this.

So I bought this: Equibands System from Equicore Concepts.  Look, SCIENCE!


I took a bit of a flyer on this and didn't do my usual amount of neurotic research before I bought it.  In fact, it wasn't until after I forked over the money that I saw that my GP trainer is listed on their website under the "testimonials" section, talking about how much it helped a "wiggly" horse under saddle. (So is Mary Wanless!)

Do you know who else is wiggly under saddle?

PC - Austen
I've been using it for a week now, and I love it.  We've kept the sessions short so far, with an eye toward gradually building him up to wearing it the whole ride.  In the instruction manual, Equicore Concepts says they want you to use it every ride/work session for a while, but gradually taper off usage over time as the horse develops the muscles to maintain his new way of going without it.

And I do love the way he goes in it.  It's not forcing him into a frame at all, but it's encouraging him to engage the correct muscles for whatever activity we're doing.  And, for a horse bred to pull that naturally travels with his hind legs behind him, it's huge for encouraging him to step under himself.



That isn't just a carefully chosen screenshot, he went around like that the whole time.  Under saddle, he feels so much more solid and engaged, which gives me a chance to focus on my own body slightly more than I am usually able to at the beginning of the ride. If you've ridden him, you know he makes you feel like every part of his body is going in a different direction at first, and the band eliminates that feeling.

First ride, with the bands relatively loose and not as engaged yet

With Connor, I was more or less able to put it straight on him with no theatrics.  I did follow the instructions and took it slowly, putting it on loosely at first, but the only time he ever seemed to care about it was the first time we picked up the canter under saddle, he threw a hind foot out in protest (which is as close as he's ever gotten to bucking).

That said, Connor is broke to harness and I feel like that helped me here.  If your horse isn't used to stuff hanging all over his body, I would take it reeeeeeeeeally slowly.  Even Connor sometimes has a hard time figuring out how to stop while wearing it - "Uh, there's a thing around my butt telling me to "go" and you want me to stop?"

Does what I ask, doesn't ask questions.  The best boy.
A few things to know if you're looking at one for yourself: first, it comes in sizes, and those are saddle pad sizes.  Connor is wearing the "small" size.

It comes with two sets of belly bands and two sets of hindquarters bands, and you are NOT going to want to share those between horses.  They are a pain in the butt to adjust, so get it set for your horse, cut off the excess, and don't share it with another horse unless they are the exact same size (and I'm not talking about height - it includes a tape measure to measure the distance between the clips around the belly and hindquarters, and that's how you size the bands).  You can buy extra sets of bands from them if you have the original proof of purchase of the original set.

16.5" CWD with forward flap shown here
The paper instructions it comes with are confusing compared to what's on their website.  I recommend reading the instructions on their website and also watching the YouTube video on how to fit it at the bottom of the same page.

I've heard some people hate this saddle pad, but I love it so much I want to track down their supplier
Could you make this yourself?  Probably, but I wouldn't want to.  Those bands are under a surprising amount of tension, and the homemade ones I've seen online don't look like they'd hold up as well over time.  The build quality on this is great, and exercise bands are surprisingly expensive.  There's definitely a premium on the price, but I don't feel like it's excessive for the value you get.


Bottom line: I'm kind of in love with this thing.  It's a great tool to keep in my toolbox for rehab, working with young horses, or any horse that could benefit from a physical reminder to engage his hind end and core more correctly.

Price: $220 for the saddle pad and two sets of bands; $50 for each additional set of bands
Sizes: Based on saddle pad size, pony, small, regular, and large in AP-shape, or Western

10 comments:

  1. I made a DIY one years ago for Stampede and despite buying the strongest bands I could find they were not equivalent to the Equiband ones. I love that this product was designed and researched so well. Hilary Clayton and her stretching research is also super interesting. I met with Narelle Stubbs when Stampede was diagnosed with his back issues and the stretches (I got a dvd of them but she told me which specifically to do) helped him a lot.

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  2. I find the equibands fascinating - Dante went in a pessoa once a week at the first barn we boarded at but I think the Equibands look superior.

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  3. A friend of mine was raving about these also! They seem really helpful, but I don't share saddle pads among horses so I'd need like three sets. Ugh!

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  4. I always thought that system looked so cool! I've been tempted to try to make one myself many times but never ended up going through with it.

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  5. We have one of those. We got ours on vet recommendation and it really helped Eugene in his recovery, but we should really use it more often now.

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  6. I’ve been curious about these and really appreciate the review! I’m curious to continue to see how they help Connor.

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  7. The Equiband is interesting, I look forward to hearing more about your experience. In the meanwhile, I need to know more about that brown / red jacket you have on!

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    1. Haha! It's actually maroon but it does look brown there. It's the Ariat Women's Terrace jacket, and I LOVE it. It's super warm and cute enough that I wear it outside the barn too.

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    2. The last time I tried an Ariat jacket even the XS was too big (5' tall). If it fits you that well I'll have to take another look!

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    3. Yeah, I'm not quite 5'1 and I have the world's shortest torso and long legs (hence needing a 17.5" Dressage saddle) and it fits me great. You can see a better picture of it from my post last week on Part 2 of Connor's NQR diagnosis, I'm wearing it when I'm holding Connor and standing in front of him.

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