While rehabilitating my mare Matilda, who was suffering from muscle atrophy and poor abdominal strength, my veterinary physiotherapist Hayley Marsh recommended I use an Equiband system to help engage her core muscles and develop her back strength.
When it arrived, Hayley helped me to fit the bands to Matilda. They are stretchy bands attached to a numnah with big, strong clips that sit behind her hindquarters and under her belly, and getting the tension right is important. There are instructions on how to do this in the manual that comes with the system.
Once set up, Hayley suggested I use it gradually to start with as it can be tiring for the horse’s muscles.
I started with just the abdominal band in 10-15min sessions, just walking with some trot and then built this up to 20mins each time.
I made sure I gave Matilda plenty of breaks from the band by undoing the straps for a few minutes during a session.
After two weeks, I introduced the hindquarter band.
I used it up to three times a week in the beginning, and introduced pole work while wearing it after three weeks of using.
Once I started ridden work, I used the Equiband once a week during ground work sessions. I continue to use the system even now and after six months of use, it still looks like new.
Matilda wasn’t at all bothered by the bands. She was used to having lines behind her hindquarters from being long-reined and so took to the Equiband very well.
Hayley was pleased with how her core was strengthening after each visit, and when wearing it Matilda moved freely and without restriction.
I could see her core working and she engaged her hindquarters well, particularly when working over poles.
Ease of use
A couple of things I noticed was that I needed to have the surcingle which holds the numnah on done up quite tight to stop the bands from pulling the system backwards. If the surcingle was too loose, the numnah slipped backwards and so it has to be done up securely.
The other things was that the bands sometimes slipped back (on the belly) and up on the hindquarters, particularly during trotting. Once they were readjusted, they stayed in place.
It is also quite difficult to adjust the length as the band is wider than the clip, and is therefore folded in order to fit through the clip.
It is quite expensive but I think it’s worth the money when you see the difference it makes to your horse’s way of going and strength. I have seen a massive improvement in Matilda and regular use of the Equiband has been instrumental in that.
I would definitely recommend an Equiband for both rehabilitation and every day training to help build and maintain strength.
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