Creator and Builder / President of Wooden Horse Corporation
Frankie was originally born in Cheverly, Maryland. His father was a successful jockey and Frankie followed suit, beginning his professional riding career at age 16 and earning the Eclipse Award for Apprentice Jockey in 1980. After an accident left him with a badly fractured left leg in 1981, he created the Equicizer, as a means to rehabilitate. Frankie’s 25 year career was based primarily on the prestigious New York circuit but took him all over the country and into Canada. Upon retiring in 2004, Lovato and his family moved to his wife’s hometown in Norwalk, Ohio, where he builds Equicizers out of his shop. Frankie was married for 32 years to his best friend and partner, Sandy Sweet-Lovato, who tragically passed away in a car accident in 2014. They have 3 children; Megan Hodgkiss, Shawn Lovato and Tim Lovato, as well as 3 grandchildren – Allison, Sadie and Jake - who light up his life. Through the Equicizer, which has continued to grow and saw the expansion of Lovato’s shop in 2015, Frankie finds the purpose and hope that continues to push him on.
|"Little Frankie" posing for a win picture with his father,|
Frank Lovato, Sr. in 1967.
Who was the most influential person to you as a child? - My dad (a professional jockey during the late 50’s, 60’s and 70’s) and Evil Knievel!
Did you have any nicknames? – My birth name is actually Shawn Lovato. Whenever I’d go to the track with my dad (Frank Lovato, Sr.) people would call me “Little Frankie”. The name stuck and when I started racing professionally at age 16 I did so under the name “Frank Lovato, Jr.”. Many of my close friends and family still call me Shawn.
What did you like most about school? Least? – I loved gym class! I hated English.
What would people you know find surprising about you as a teen? – I left home at age 14 to pursue my riding career and graduated high school early at age 16.
|Frankie Lovato with some of his very|
Who was the biggest influence in your career? –
What horseman made the biggest impact on your riding/horsemanship and why? – Jerry Noss was a trainer that mentored me when I started my riding career. He was not only a great teacher but also an amazing rider and horseman himself that took me under his wing. I remained in touch with Jerry throughout and after my career. I miss him dearly.
|Frankie Lovato (right) with mentor Jerry Noss (left) in 1979.|
What do you like to do in your spare time? – I love to cook and in the summertime, grill for close family and friends.
|Frankie's granddaughter, Allison, with|
pony, Popcorn, at the local county
fair in 2011.
Talk about a horse you own now or one you used to own or lease. – I share ownership of an 8 year old Shetland Pony (who lives in my backyard) with my grandkids.
What is your favorite Equicizer memory? – I built a number of Equicizers while I was still riding races but I wasn’t sure if the Equicizer alone would be able to sustain me once my racing career was over. I remember a family ordered an Equicizer from me for their son who had cerebral palsy and was wheel chair bound. They were familiar with the Equicizer and had used it the year previous through a therapeutic riding program. When I arrived to deliver their Equicizer to them, the mother couldn’t stop talking about the amazing things the Equicizer had done for her son the previous year. “Watch this,” she said as she and her husband lifted their son onto the Equicizer. He went from being unintelligible to uttering words that everyone could understand. His body unfolded before our eyes as his mother began to gently rock the Equicizer and his muscles unclenched. For me this was an eye opening experience and a sign that I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing.