If you haven’t seen them yet, chances are you will soon. Resistance bands for horses are the new ‘it’ training aid, and with good reason. The result of two decades worth of research and education in consultation with therapists, veterinarians, riders, and trainers, the Equiband™ system comes complete with an oversize saddle pad and two flexible lengths of Latex-free bands that attach under the horse’s belly and behind his hindquarters. Sound simple? It is—but the idea behind it is anything but.

Dr. Nicole Rombach, an expert on complementary therapies for sports performance horses, and Narelle Stubbs, a physiotherapist and researcher, designed the Equiband system to stimulate receptors in the horse’s skin and hair follicles, thereby activating abdominal, sub-lumbar and deep neck and back muscles while the horse works.

Here’s why that matters: the muscle groups activated by the bands help to round the horse’s back and engage the hindquarters, strengthening the core musculature over time and helping him to work more correctly while preventing possible injuries. In other words, it’s appropriate for a wide range of candidates, from young horses under tack to senior mounts looking stay in shape, to those working back from injury or illness, and performance horses in all disciplines looking to up their game.

But don’t take our word for it. We caught up with eventer Elena Hengel, a 2016 USEA North American Junior & Young Rider Eventing Championships CICY2* participant who currently trains with Will Coleman to learn why she’s made Equiband a permanent part of her training program.

NF Style: How and when did you start using the Equiband?

Elena Hengel: I started using the Equiband when I started training with Will Coleman last year. He uses it daily on multiple horses and he thought the band would be especially helpful for one of mine, who struggles with using his core and hind end.

Equiband was easy to order from and they included extra sets of bands to replace mine when they age or tear. So far, the bands have remained in tact and the quality has stayed consistent for nearly a year. While I ordered the band with a particular horse in mind, I now use it on all of my horses.

Can you describe how often you use it and what kind of results you’ve seen?

I use the Equiband a couple of times a week. I use it on hack days or when the horses are doing long and low stretching work to help them remember to engage their hind end when they are in a lower frame.

The Colemans have helped me learn how much to use the Equiband to best fit my horses’ needs. They recommend which horses need it more, but our program has been fairly consistent with how much it is used, and for what horses.

What kind of horse would you recommend this for?

The Equiband would be helpful for any high-performance horse. It is especially helpful for horses that need help tracking up behind and engaging their core.

It is easy to use and all of my horses have no problem wearing it. One of my horses is very sensitive, so I was concerned that having the bands around his belly and hindend would make him nervous, but from the first time he wore the Equiband, he was completely comfortable in it. I have yet to have a horse have a negative reaction to wearing the band. I would recommend following the safety instructions and keeping the bands looser the first day, however, to be safe.

-Photo credit: ELG Photography (Eliza Goldberg); via Equicoreconcepts.com.