How to fit the Equiband Pro®
The Equiband Pro system is intended for core strengthening and movement retraining. It has been designed following extensive research into core stability training and unlike traditional training systems, many of which have attachments onto the bridle and encourage the horse’s head to come down with pressure, the Equiband Pro system stimulates activation of the abdominal and hindquarter muscles and encourages the horse to use its core and back effectively.
The Equiband Pro consists of two unique latex-free resistance bands – the Abdominal Band (AB) and the Hindquarter Band (HQ) – and the saddle pad which is available in multiple sizes and styles. The bands can both be used at the same time, or individually. It is important to carefully fit the bands to your horse before using them to ensure that your horse is comfortable, and will work correctly with them on.
Step One: Desensitise the horse to the touch of the Equiband Pro
Gently rub the Equiband Pro across the horse’s abdominal and hindquarter regions on both sides, and under the tail, until they happily accept the touch of the bands.
Step Two: Fit the First Abdominal Band
We have found that even sensitive horses get accustomed to the sensation of the Equiband Pro quickly but it is important to introduce it slowly. To first fit your Equiband Pro, have a helper present. Start slowing and carefully, and only fit one band at a time, giving the horse time to adjust to the feel of the band.
Start with the abdominal band first. You can work with only this band to begin with for several weeks to make sure your horse is happy and comfortable and engaging its abdominals. The Abdominal Band is the real hero of the Equiband Pro system as when a horse’s abdominals are engaged it is also engaged and through over the back. This is the real benefit of the Equiband Pro system in that it encourages thoroughness by engaging the horse’s core which is why it’s recommended to only use this Abdonimanl band for several weeks while your horse gets used to working in this new and correct way before adding in the Hindquarter Band.
To fit it, go slowly and attach the band to the saddle pad clip on one side. Then, like you’re doing up your horse’s girth, reach under and your fingers and widen the band so that it sits flat against your horse’s trunk. Rather than doing the other side up, hold it near the clip and have your helper walk the horse to make sure your horse tolerates the band against its belly. Ensure you are not within kicking distance in case your horse has an issue with the band. Once your horse seems fine clip the band up but only loosely. Again lead your horse and allow them to walk around with the abdominal band on while they get used to it. It’s important that before you tighten the band that the horse’s back is neutral or relaxed so that you can ensure the band can work how it needs to.
Step Three: Adjust the Band for Optimal Tension
The Equiband Pro bands come pre-threaded through the clips which attach the bands to the saddle pad. You can adjust the length of the bands through the triglides on the bands (below the clips), and any excess length can be trimmed using scissors. The band should sit firmly and securely around your horse’s trunk but still have a slight give to it. It’s not designed to be as firm as girth but rather to sit comfortably around your horse without any looseness or slipping. It’s a great idea to check in on the band during your horse’s workout, especially for the first few uses as you become accustomed to the give and stretch. Adjust accordingly always making sure that your horse is happy with the pressure and still in a relaxed or neutral posture and not tensing against the band. Excess tension in the bands will inhibit the horse’s movement.
The optimal tension for your Equiband Pro bands is less than 50% stretch meaning they shouldn’t be stretched to more than double their length. To familiarise yourself with how much stretch this is we recommend before putting the band on the horse hold a section of the band in front of you and pull it apart so that it is doubled in length noting how much stretch there is. Noting this feel and being aware of how much give there is in the bands is the best way to fit them correctly so that it’s not too tight but while you’re starting out you can start looser and tighten as you get a better feel for the band and what works for your horse.
Handy Hint: If you need to cut your brand and would like to measure the stretch of your band more accurately you can use the supplied measuring tape to measure the distance between the two clips on the saddle pad (when it’s on your horse) from the left hand side to the right hand side – either round the hindquarters or under the abdomen, depending on which band you are fitting. Then measure the distance between the clips on the band itself, and set this distance to no less than half of the measurement of between the clips of the saddle pad. For example, if the distance between the two clips on the saddle pad (from left side to right side) is 1m, the clips on the band should be no less than 50cm apart.
Step Four: Hand walk or Lunge the Horse before Mounting
Now that your bands are at optimal tension, hand walk, trot and/or lunge the horse before you mount. We recommend having a helper present when mounting the horse for the first time after fitting your Equiband Pro. Once mounted, allow the horse to get used to the feeling of the Equiband Pro at walk before moving into trot or canter.
Step Five: Adding the Hindquarter Band or Adjusting the Equiband Pro
Once the horse is accustomed to the abdominal band, repeat the process with the hindquarter band. If you need to make any adjustments to the Equiband Pro, always do this from the ground, never when you are mounted on your horse. To add in the hindquarter band, repeat steps two to four. Always have a helper present until the horse is fully accustomed to the use of the Equiband Pro System. When fitting a brand new hindquarter band it’s a good idea to let the horse do a little exercise and then check the tension and adjust accordingly.
Step Six: Using your Equiband Pro
The Equiband Pro system is intended for in-hand work, and during lunging and riding. You can use the Equiband Pro system at the start of a workout graduating to use for a full session. Ensure that the horse receives regular breaks as the increased engagement of the core musculature will cause earlier fatigue in work. If the horse appears unlevel with use of the Equiband Pro system, cease use immediately and seek veterinary evaluation and/or advice. Use Equiband Pro from the start of work, emphasizing transitions between and within gaits. Reduce full riding time by half as increased core muscle engagement may cause fatigue.
Step Seven: Removing the Equiband Pro
When removing the Equiband Pro system ensure that you do so carefully, especially the hindquarter band. Unclip one side and carefully walk it around to the other side to make sure that it doesn’t fling off and scare your horse.