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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Meet the Equicizer Team! - Frankie Lovato

This week we're kicking off a new blog series where, over the next couple of months, we will be introducing you to each member of the Wooden Horse Corporation team via a small bio and some fun interview style questions individually chosen and answered by each staff member so YOU the reader, can get to know each of us a little bit better! 

Frankie Lovato

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.

What is your earliest memory? - I remember a party my parents hosted when I was around 4 years old. I came out of the closest carrying my dad’s old tack bag which had been given to me (full of random, useless riding equipment) and couldn’t wait to show the guests the equipment I was going to use when I became a jockey!

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 were you most afraid of as a child? – Growing too big to become a jockey!

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
first Equicizers!
In addition to being paid money, how else has your career created value in your life? – It’s given me the opportunity and platform to mentor and educate others who wished to work in the racing industry throughout the years. My career was also the catalyst that led me to create the first Equicizer, which is now my life’s work.

Who was the biggest influence in your career? –
When things got tough for me after I broke my leg in a racing accident at age 18, Greg McCarron, who was also my best friend at the time, became my mentor in life and helped shape me into a better person, both personally and professionally.

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 accomplishment are you most proud of? – Aside from my family, I’m most proud of winning the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey in 1980, one of racing’s highest honors.

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.
What equine in your lifetime made the biggest impact on you and why? – Johnny Dance was a horse that I loved and stands out in my memory. He wasn’t the fastest racehorse I’ve ever ridden but he had more personality and heart than any horse I had the pleasure of riding.

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. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Central Kentucky Riding for Hope

This week we're highlighting a very prominent organization in the therapeutic riding industry - Central Kentucky Riding for Hope (CKRH), a PATH International Premiere Accredited Center. We recently received a beautiful testimonial from CKRH about their Equicizer that we're excited to share with you all, but FIRST, some cool history and facts about the incredible program that Central Kentucky Riding for Hope has evolved into:

Founded in 1981 and based out of the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, CKRH has been serving the community in a multitude of ways for over 35 years. Their 4.1 million dollar facility which includes a large 50,000 square foot center that features everything from a large arena, stalls and other barn amenities to offices and meeting spaces, also contains an outdoor arena and plenty of paddock space for the approximately 30 horses that contribute to their various programs.

The CKRH employs a full and part time staff as well as multiple licensed therapists and they have over 170 volunteers each week that help keep everything running smoothly. The services the CKRH offers include therapeutic riding, Hippotherapy, Equine Facilitated Mental Health, Equine Facilitated Learning and Therapeutic Horsemanship. These may include mounted and non-mounted equine activities overseen by certified professionals and are open to a wide range of individuals from those with physical and mental disabilities to military members and veterans as well as local public and private schools.

One of our personal favorite things about the CKRH is their use of their Equicizer - "HOPE"! Purchased in 2007, "Hope" helps further the CKRH's mission and dedication "to enriching the community by improving the quality of life and the health of children and adults with special physical, cognitive, emotional and social needs through therapeutic activities with the horse" on a daily basis.

In the words of CKRH's Equine Manager/Trainer/Instructor, Lisa Swanson:

"We love our Equicizer, fondly named "HOPE" for many reasons. HOPE doesn't shed, always has a pleasant attitude, & never needs to have her saddle refitted! :)

In all seriousness, we use HOPE all the time at our Center. Some of our uses are new rider evaluations, engaging fearful participants, building rider core strength & stamina, staff /volunteer training's, and more! HOPE is part of our herd and a valuable asset as we serve individuals in the community with disabilities. HOPE helps our participants see themselves as ABLE, rather than DIS-ABLED!!

Thank you for such an awesome product!!"

And we would like to thank the CKRH for their continuing efforts on behalf of all of those that they service.

Please check out Central Kentucky Riding for Hope's website and facebook page for more information. 

by Kayla Jarvinen

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

And the winner is...

Contest Winner Announcement

First and foremost, we are happy to say that we feel like the winner of this contest! We were blown away at all the honest and thoughtful responses that were submitted and are very grateful for everyone's participation! We are looking forward to incorporating some of the ideas you shared regarding things you are interested in learning more about. 

Here is a brief summary of the contest:
We received responses from around the world, including the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.

The responses we received helped us to learn more about you as our fans and customers. For example, we now know how much you love our monthly newsletter and social media presence!

You shared some of your favorite things about the Equicizer.

And last, but not least, we would like to send a big CONGRATULATIONS to 
Kristen in Cleveland 
who is our contest winner! The luck of the Irish was with Kristen this week! 

We hope you are subscribed to our blog here and our newsletter. Have a safe and happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Enter to Win!

Enter to Win!

We are offering a 20$ Amazon gift card to one lucky winner. You can enter just by answering a few simple questions! We are hoping to incorporate more contests throughout the next year so make sure you are subscribed to our newsletter and following us across social media. You never know where one of these might pop up!

What do I have to do to win?

Follow this link and answer the questions. YES - it's that easy!


Can I earn extra entries?

You can earn ONE extra entry by being subscribed to our monthly newsletter. We never share our subscriber list with any affiliates and typically only send one email a month.

When will the winner be announced?

The winner will be announced on our next Wooden Horse Wednesday - March 14th.

 No purchase necessary. Purchase does not enhance chance of winning. Void where prohibited. This contest is the responsibility of Wooden Horse Corporation and we have no affiliation with Amazon. Entry is gained by completing the survey and one additional entry may be earned by subscribing to the Wooden Horse Corporation newsletter. The contest begins 2/27/2018 at 10am EST and ends 3/13/2018 at 10pm EST or when the contest reaches 100 entries. Anyone is eligible for a maximum of two entries, which are gained by filling out the survey (1) or filling out the survey and being subscribed to the newsletter (2). The prize is one Amazon gift card with a value of $20. The winner will be chosen at 10:30pm EST on 3/13/2018 and announced at 10am EST on 3/14/2017 on The selection process will be filmed and will be done by numbering the entries and entering the numbers into a random picker. By entering the contest, the entrant agrees to being announced as the winner should they win by their first name. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants but are estimated to be 1 to 100. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Loving the Equicizer

♥ Happy Valentines Day, Equicizer family! 

As Wooden Horse Wednesday is falling on the holiday of love this year, we decided to showcase the people we love (YOU!) loving on the Equicizer! Nothing is more rewarding than seeing the smiles the Equicizer puts on the faces of our customers. 

SDSU Adaptive Fitness Clinic LOVES a good core workout.

We LOVE this shot of Grace Lake Ministry's Equcizer "Rocko" making a new little friend.

Image result for steve lantvit equicizer
We LOVE our partnership with Steve Lantvit Horsemanship!

Debra Haynes LOVES her Equicizer, "Chance' so much, she wrote us a story about him!

Dream Catcher of LA and their Equicizer "Woody" getting some LOVE from a friend.

At CS Mott Children's Hospital, the Little Victors kids LOVED horsing around on the Equicizer when Therapeutic Riding Inc brought it by for a riding simulation.

Joan Patterson LOVES to ride her Equicizer "Cowboy"

Isabelle Wenc LOVES her Equicizer "Goofs"

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, shoes
We LOVED watching Ellen and Nacho Figueras take a spin on the Equicizer.

Sheila demonstrates something she LOVES about the Equicizer - working out inside during the cold winter months!

Horses Healing Humans LOVES making their Equicizer time a group affair!

Jordan, her pups, and her Equicizer "Tonka" LOVE spending time together!

The Calvanese Therapeutic Learning Foundation LOVES to smile about their Equicizer "Shady Lady".

Hagyard Equine Medical Institute LOVED seeing this cute pup take a spin on the Equicizer.

We hope you LOVED all these pictures and have a LOVELY Valentine's Day!

Compiled by Kayla Jarvinen and Amanda Elia

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Touch of Nostalgia....

On Thursday, January 25th the 47th annual Eclipse Awards were held at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida. For those of you unfamiliar, the Eclipse Awards are North American horse racing's highest honor; the equivalent of an Oscar or Grammy in the entertainment industry.

This black tie affair draws the best of the best in horse racing from around the country, who come together to celebrate the previous years outstanding accomplishments and rising stars. There are numerous categories honoring horses, jockeys, trainers, owners, breeders, media and others who've had a positive impact on the racing industry.

One highly coveted category is that for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. This is an award that was won by Equicizer Creator and Builder, Frank Lovato, Jr. in 1980. The three finalists in this category for this year's Eclipse Award were all well deserving and ironically, they are all connected - in some manner - to the Equicizer.

Finalist Katie Clawson, who was gaining momentum before announcing her retirement in September, attended two of Frankie's Jockey Camps in 2011 and 2012. The camps, held from 2009-2013 were held at Frankie's home in Ohio where attendees were given an insiders view at what it takes to become a jockey. The lessons and activities were done primarily on Equicizers in the Equicizer workshop and on a scale size racetrack Frankie built in his backyard. The 2012 camp was also notably attended by Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone.

Another of the finalists, Hector Rafael Diaz Jr., attended the jockey school in Puerto Rico, where the Equicizer is used as a regular part of their program, before coming over to the United States. 

This year's third finalist and ultimately, the winner of the 2017 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey, Evin A. Roman, called just yesterday to place his order for an Equicizer. His agent - Tony Matos - was also Frankie's agent for a time during his award winning apprentice year.

We are proud of the parallels that existed among this year's finalists and would like to offer a sincere congratulations to Evin, Hector and Katie for their hard work and accomplishments this past year.

It was one year after Frankie himself won the Eclipse Award that a badly fractured leg prompted the creation of what is now known and used, not only in horse racing but all over the world, as the Equicizer.

To learn more about Frankie's Eclipse Award winning run and the story behind the creation of the Equicizer, check out our previous blog post, "The First “Wooden Horse” - The Birth of the Equicizer (Part 1)."

by Kayla Jarvinen