Equine Core Conditioning Saddle Pad and Band System

About

 Resistance Band Training for Horses

 

  • The Equine Core Conditioning System is a training aid that is used in combination with ground work and ridden exercises to improve flexibility, strength, balance and body awareness in the horse.

 

  •  It is gaining recognition Internationally by horse owners, vets, and physiotherapists for its value in general conditioning  and for its application during rehabilitation following injury.

 

  • By encouraging the horse to work over the back and to step under the centre of gravity, the horse develops increased top line condition and many problems that are created by weakness or natural crookedness are greatly improved.

 

  • This alleviates the need to deploy forceful or fixed methods that attempt to hold the horse into a particular frame, direction or outline and results in improved comfort and soundness.

 

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Equinebands

Equinebands

Equinebands

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About Me

 

I am Laura Patterson an Equine Sports and Remedial Massage Therapist based in Ireland who specialises in the rehabilitation of ex race horses.

I have developed a core strengthening product and exercise system to help off the track thoroughbreds make the transition from racing to riding horses in order that they can be successfully rehomed and go on to have a happy and sound second career. Many of these horses have good temperaments and athletic ability but struggle with engagement, find it difficult to work over the back or are inclined to hold them selves in a tense or hollow outline.

By incorporating the bands into a structured and progressive core conditioning program it helps the horses to settle and figure out what is required of them. People would notice the difference in these horses and began to enquire about the system. This inspired me to develop the product and document my core strengthening exercises into an eBook.

I think that using the bands has the added benefit of making the handler more aware of how the horse uses his whole body, which is a positive step away from some of the more restrictive and commonly deployed training practices in equestrianism.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Resistance band training can be used in a wide range of activities from work in hand, to lunging and long reining, under saddle, over poles and whilst hacking.

 

  • The Equine Core Conditioning System has been developed for use with many different types of horse and can  be incorporated  into both general and rehabilitative training regimes.

 

  • Examples of horses that have benefited from the system include sport horses, young horses, ex race horses, and horses rehabilitating from kissing spines, stifle weakness or sacroiliac discomfort.

 

  • The saddle pad is fitted either underneath the saddle or training roller and the specially formulated equine resistance bands pass around the abdominal muscles and hindquarters, stimulating receptors in the horses skin and coat during movement.

 

  • Use of the bands during training helps to activate the core muscles which stabilise the spinal column and promotes development of the top line musculature.

 

 

 

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 Rehabilitation Following Injury

Equine Core Conditioning Bands are recommended by veterinary and physiotherapy professionals who recognize that successful post operative recovery is influenced by the after care provided and by how well the rehab exercises prescribed are carried out.

Prescriptive exercises may be suggested in cases of previous injury where pain has subsided, but the horse continues to move with compensatory or altered movement patterns.

These exercises are  usually targeted the core muscle groups. 

This is because a dysfunctional core may be more visually apparent in the body extremities such as the limbs or head and neck.

This is why when core function improves the results are visible in a more regular and rhythmic gait.

 

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Fitting the Bands

  • Attach the abdominal band to right hand side of the saddle pad and pass the band over the saddle. From the left hand side lower the band as you would a girth and lightly stretch the band so as to apply it with an even tension/ pressure.  The abdominal band passes directly under the barrel, hugging the abdomen.

 

  • The hind quarter band passes around the hind quarters and lies below the ischial tuberosities ( point of buttock) and above the stifle joint. Apply the hind band from right to left, applying a light even tension/ pressure.

 

  • Check that the bands are secure without excess tension by sliding a flat hand between the band and the horses skin. The hand should feel supported against the horse by the band, but not uncomfortable or restricted.

 

  • Initially it is recommended to apply the abdominal band only. This is because engagement of the abdominal muscles is necessary as part of the mechanism that helps the horse to lift and work over the back. Use of this band is particularly beneficial for horses with an inverted/ hollow posture. The placement of the hind leg should be encouraged in combination with this engagement of the core and when the horse is familiar with engaging the abdominal muscles the hind quarter band can be added. The hind quarter band encourages greater awareness of limb placement during movement which is particularly beneficial in cases of poor engagement or asymmetrical movement.

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Suggested Training Program

Introduce the bands at the beginning of the training session as this is the most effective time to begin training a new motor pattern and to increase body awareness.

  • A change in the horse's way of going is often noted from first use, with the rider feeling as though they are being carried or lifted by the horse during movement, however top line condition and muscle memory can take up to 3 months or longer to develop.

 

  • For best results it is recommend  to adopt a patient but progressive approach to training that takes into consideration the horse's individual characteristics, current level of fitness, and the exercise level, duration and intensity.

 

  • Recruiting new or previously under used muscle groups can cause the horse to fatigue if demanded for too long or at too high an intensity. Therefore it is recommended to decrease the normal training session duration by half and gradually increase use in accordance with the horse's progress.

 

  • Progression will differ between individual horses. As a guide, it can take between 3 to 4 weeks of daily conditioning for a new neural motor pattern to become established. Once established, the bands can be used less regularly and applied as needed for maintenance purposes.

 

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  • Stage 1 – Initial Training Sessions (Weeks 1 to 3)

In the initial stages of training the horse is subject to a regular stimulus by the daily application of the bands. This provides the nervous system with sufficient body-brain-body feedback to program the desired neural pattern.

 

  • Stage 2 – Progressive Training Sessions  ( Week 4 Onwards)

In the progressive stage of training the bands can be applied less frequently. By this stage, the horse should have adopted the required movement output pattern and be capable of engaging the core and maintaining balance for longer periods of time. Use of the bands can be decreased to 2 - 4 sessions weekly.

 

  • Stage 3 – Maintenance (As per Individual Requirement)

When satisfied that the horse has fully developed the supporting musculature and can maintain balance during training, the goals in stages 1 and 2 have been achieved. Equine Core Bands can be used as required to maintain muscle tone and ensure the correct motor pattern is holding.

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Summary

During normal riding and training practice it is often difficult to target the specific soft tissue areas of the horse’s body that are responsible for symmetry of movement and stability of the spine and pelvis.

Using Equine Core Bands in combination with a structured conditioning program can help to educate and strengthen the horse’s neuro muscular system and  tone the muscle fibres that are responsible for producing finely tuned coordinated movement.