Thursday 8 April 2021

Equibands - So Far, So Good!

 I've had a couple of more rides with the Equibands - a total of three so far. 

The second ride was after Cisco had had a few days off from being under saddle, although he had a chance to run around in the arena on Saturday, and then we spent an hour or so on Sunday practicing trailer loading. So he was a little bit up, which caused him to have short quick steps at the beginning of the trot. It took a few minutes to have him settle into longer, slower strides, and since we are still in the early stages of using the bands there was only a short few minutes before I ended the ride. Not that he was bad or anything, he was just a bit fresh, but overall he was much better about not flinging his shoulders around as he normally does when in the arena by himself.

I asked my dad if he had enough scrap wood to make a mounting block for outside the barn. A week later I delivered it! It's the perfect height - well, for me at least!

The next night I rode him outside for our first proper outdoor ride. We've been out a few times so far this spring but have only walked along on a mostly loose rein.

We walked around the yard as our warm-up before heading to the empty field to school. It's the perfect time of year to ride in the field - the ground is soft with only one squelchy spot, and the grass is short enough that you can see the gopher holes.

I was expecting him to be a hot mess and bulging everywhere with far too quick a pace, but he surprised me by immediately picking up a steady trot and for the most part keeping it. Sure, at times his shoulders fell out to the right on a left turn, but that's a constant issue that we deal with. Rather, that I deal with, as it seems to happen on every horse I ride. 

He's still working on finding his balance with the bands - he wants to stretch his head and neck down, but is sometimes too low and starts to fall a bit onto his forehand. I also want him to stretch his head and neck down, but I need to push him into the contact a bit more and not let him get so low. Shortening my reins and engaging my core gives me a lovely, round trot, that neither of us can maintain for very long. 

Cisco was also much straighter and steadier this ride, which allowed me to have many more moments of getting a proper bend. It's hard to get a right bend when you are pushing out through your right shoulder, and even though that is his default move when he gets stressed (like on the first ride outside of the season) he was really good about swapping bend when changing direction or on turns. 

I haven't got any recent horse media, but I will soon because my boots are only a little over a month away! Hopefully, Covid doesn't cause any significant delays in shipping! (Yes, I have a countdown on my phone's home screen.)

He still tires pretty quickly while wearing the Equibands, although I ended before he started getting  behind the bit as he had the previous two rides. We trotted for 7 minutes on the first ride, 8 on the second, and 10 on the third (total trot time as per the Equisense). We haven't cantered yet with it, but hopefully will this weekend.

So far, I'm impressed with the Equibands. Well - Equiband, because I've only used the abdominal band so far. I'm generally not a person who uses gadgets, so I am feeling a little bit of guilt over using it. However, I don't think that it creates a false frame like draw reins or short martingales do, and it doesn't apply any pressure to the horse's mouth at all. It's all about teaching the horse to carry themselves using different muscles than they possibly do normally, and if it can be done without drilling them to death then maybe it's a good thing. 

I need to take some before pictures of Cisco so that I can see if his body changes. I'm hoping he gets beefcake status this summer!

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