As equine therapy gains more notoriety and momentum with the world’s best riders adding therapy systems into their stable there are more options than ever before. Two of the main players in Australia and New Zealand are the Activo–Med Therapy System and the Equissage system. To help riders, owners and trainers make the choice to see which therapy is right for your stable we’re going to take a look at the difference and similarities between Activo-Med and Equissage systems.
The Therapy behind the Activo-Med and Equissage systems
The Equissage uses a Back Pad that features a wireless remote control that delivers a cycloidal massage (CVT) to the whole horse. The therapy is delivered via the back pad and combined with a handheld attachment delivers massage across the horse’s whole body. Suitable for daily use it is a highly effective, non-aggressive and very safe and easy to use. Clinical studies have shown that CVT improves blood flow, relieves muscle/joint pain, assists with healing and improves joint mobility.
The Activo-Med system comprises a range of products but is most often a rug that is put on the horse and combines PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Therapy) and cycloidal massage across the entire horse from poll to tail. PEMF is a non-invasive treatment and works on a cellular level with penetration up to 30 cm, whereas cycloid massage cycles across the body to dissipate toxins, lactic acid and encourage blood flow. The combination of both of these therapies is what makes this system so effective as they work in tandem. The massage alone isn’t able to penetrate as it works on vibration across the surface but the PEMF is able to penetrate deeper and help the whole horse. PEMF has been used and developed in research centers and hospitals for human use which is now being used more by vets and professional riders and trainers for animal use. There are a lot of studies and new research being developed all the time which means the Activo-Med preset programs and being tweaked to ensure optimal results.
Using the Activo-Med and Equissage systems
Both systems are a new thing for nervous or young horses to get used to but once your horse has settled most will enjoy the therapy and relax.
When putting the Equissage on your horse it’s similar to putting a saddle on complete with the optional saddle pad whereas the Activo-Med system is a rug complete with chest, neck, and belly straps to hold it steady. Often young or unbroken horses will respond better to a rug being put on than the saddle-like object.
Once you turn on the Equissage the machine will emit a hum as it vibrates and massages the horse. The higher the setting, the louder the machine will be which is why most programs will start on a lower setting before building up so that horses can get accustomed to the noise.
The Activo-Med system is almost completely silent. PEMF doesn’t make any sound and the massage of the rug moves up and down the horse’s body so often you have to hold your hand on the massage points to feel where it’s up to in its cycle. The way many of the rug cycles work is that the PEMF will begin to help calm horses before the massage starts meaning that your horse will react well to the massage component of the cycle.
Many Activo-Med owners choose the system because they’re looking for more flexibility and complete control in their therapy unit. There are 18 preset programs in the Activo-Med system, all of which have different areas and issues that they target. The advanced controller means that the programs are highly adjustable including adjusting settings of frequency and intensity of the pulse or giving you the ability to run the lights and massage only making the system completely customizable to what each horse needs. You can even build out a custom program for specific needs in conjunction with the Activo-Med vet and therapist team to help manage specific issues. All of this is covered in the extensive user guides, training videos, and on-call support.
How therapy is distributed
As mentioned the Equissage sits where the saddle sits and uses the CVT in this area to effectively treat the whole horse. The Activo-Med rug is a different design whereby it evenly distributes the therapy over the whole horse from poll to tail. There are 19 strategically placed PEMF spools and 14 massage panels from poll to tail including shoulder and stifle, ensuring even therapy distribution.
Both systems have the option of adding a handheld unit that helps target problem areas. The Equissage Hand Unit complements the Back Pad, allowing for spot treatment over the body and to use in the tendon boot on the legs, suitable for both front and hind legs. The Activo-Med Hand-Held PEMF Device combines Light Therapy (Red light and Infrared) and PEMF, together providing a range of different frequencies to stimulate different cells within the body.
The Activo–Med system has the option to add a range of added accessories including:
By adding these accessories you can target areas of concern and provide your horse with therapy all over and in the areas that really matter to your horse’s wellbeing.
Both systems feature rechargeable batteries that are easy to charge and allow you a number of treatments before having to pop them on charge. A fully charged Equissage battery will provide 10 sessions for your horse when fully charged. The Activo–Med batteries will provide 20+ treatments on a full charge and with proper care have been known to last ten years of more. This means that when using the rug while traveling you shouldn’t need to charge the battery during your competition.
Both systems are able to be wiped down after use which is handy especially after being put on a sweaty horse. The Activo-Med system is easily machine washable with all components easily removable.
Both systems come with their own carry bag and 2-year warranty.
When it comes to adding or upgrading your Activo-Med system, any upgraded components are always compatible with older components meaning that upgrades are easy and stress-free.
The Equissage comes in 2 sizes, standard, and pony.
The Activo-Med system comes in 3 sizes, pony (M), warmblood (L) and Large Warmblood (XL). However, with the rug’s adjustable straps, it is quite adjustable which means you can fit it easily to horses of most sizes.
Interested in learning more about the Activo-Med range? Get in touch with us to chat.