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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Painting and Finishing Process

In this week's Wooden Horse Wednesday we're bringing you a behind the scenes look at a specific section of the Equicizer building process. This time, we're going to take a look at the painting and finishing process that is used on the Equicizer heads.

Each head is specially hand carved by Equicizer creator and builder, Frankie Lovato. The process is similar for both the Classic and Elite heads, with the exception of the added detail, color and time required on the Elite models.

Last year, we gave readers an inside look at the head carving process as a whole; you can read more about that here.

Then earlier this year, we shared with you some of the steps that are taken to put together and prepare the heads prior to them ever being ready to carve, stain or finish. (Take our word for it, it's a lot of work!)

Today, we have a look into the final steps of the painting and finishing process. This takes place after each head has been glued together, carved, stained, sanded with multiple coats of urethane and the accents have been added. So much labor and love goes into each Equicizer head alone, we hope this gives readers a better understanding of what's involved and why we take such pride in what we do.

For more behind the scenes blogs, check out the following:

by Kayla Jarvinen

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Equicizer in Action - Isabelle Wenc

Here at Wooden Horse Corporation, we do not simply send our Equicizers out into the world and move on to the next order in the queue. We take pride in the fact that our customers become a part of the "Equicizer Family" and enjoy following their journeys through email and social media. Many of our customers become lifelong friends of the staff here at Wooden Horse and it's exciting to hear of the difference the Equicizer makes in their lives.

Take, for example, 22 year old Canadian apprentice jockey Isabelle Chloe Wenc. She is a passionate horsewoman who chronicles her journey as a young aspiring rider on social media. She often uses the Equicizer as a part of her training routine and it was an instrumental part of her return to riding after a back injury. We caught up with Isabelle to ask a few questions about her life, her work, and her passion for horses and riding.

Tell us a little about yourself…
I started out at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon, Sk. I then moved onto Northlands Park in Edmonton Alberta and am currently making a move to  Toronto, Ontario to ride at Woodbine/Fort Erie before my apprenticeship is up.

What got you interested in horses/horseback riding? What industry do you have the most experience with?
I have always had a passion for horses ever since I was a little girl and I guess I just never grew out of that phase like most people do. I didn't grow up riding aside from the odd horseback riding camp my parents enrolled me in during Christmas and summer holidays. My mom had a friend who trained racehorses in my hometown and one day offered for me to go feed with her ( I was about 14) and then I spent the rest of my days that summer learning about the ways of the racetrack and what it would take to become a Jockey. I held onto the thought that when I graduated a Jockey is what I would be and so I did. Basically most of my knowledge of horses stems from the racetrack. It's where I learnt all I know. 

When and how did you first hear about the Equicizer?
I first heard about the Equicizer from the same woman who got me into the horse racing game. Her name is Maria Stanford. She introduced me to Frankie Lovato Jr and Kayla Jarvinen through Facebook. From there I had conversations with both Frankie and Kayla where they shared their knowledge of horse racing and their product the "Equicizer". I was very intrigued once I learnt more about it and knew that someday I would love to be able to own one. I have been following anything and everything Equicizer through Facebook for at least 6 or 7 years now. I also became more familiar with it when I watched the Animal Planet series called " Jockeys " and saw how these Hall of Fame, Best of the Best group of riders used the Equicizer in their every day lives to help them achieve the amazing things in their career that they have accomplished and that's what really got me wanting one.

What does your Equicizer look like? Does your Equicizer have a name and is there a story behind your Equicizer’s name?
My Equicizer is black and her name is Goofs. She was named after a racehorse we nicknamed "Goofs" who taught me a lot my first full season as an Apprentice and stole my heart while doing it. She's not the biggest filly but her heart and attitude make up for her lack of size. She was just a baby when we first met and I got to teach her everything right from Day 1. Everything from galloping, working, going to the starting gate, and finally her first race. She probably taught me more in the process but holds a very special place near and dear to my heart.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
The best piece of advice I've ever been given was that you should never stop wanting to learn and improve yourself. No matter what you achieve in life you will never know it all and you should always want to do better and improve off that. You should always have an open mind and a willingness to learn because that will take you further than anything else. I apply that to both my riding life as well as my personal life. 

What’s your favorite thing about the Equicizer? Is there anything you might like to be different about it?
I absolutely love my Equicizer more than I ever even imagined. I had never been on one before I purchased mine so it was all new to me when it arrived but I wouldn't change a thing.

What is your Equicizer “set up”? (reins, saddle, riser, etc?)
My Equicizer set up consists of thoroughbred racing lines and then I use my own personal Jockey saddle to exercise with it. Racehorses use minimal tack and that is my Discipline of riding so I apply that when using my Equicizer.

What challenges do you face in your progress that you like to focus on while riding your Equicizer?
My Equicizer played a huge part in my rehab when I was coming back off a back injury. I broke my T-4 to 8 in a spill during a morning work out in September of last year. When I was laying in the hospital bed I knew that if I was ever going to get an Equicizer, now would be the time because I was going to need all the help I could get. Immediately after being discharged I got in touch with Frankie and Kayla and made all the necessary arrangements I needed in order to start the process of ordering my very own Equicizer. 

I received my Equicizer a month before my back brace was removed so it was like torture just watching it sit in my basement. Finally after a 5 month lay off I was cleared to start getting on it. The Equicizer allowed me to work at my own pace and remain comfortable all while getting stronger and rehabilitating my still very sensitive back. I felt myself getting stronger and stronger with each and every day and with that I was able to lengthen my time spent as well as the intensity of my work outs on my Equicizer. 

A month after using it I had a follow up with my doctor and they were thrilled and almost in shock at how well and how quickly I regained strength and flexibility in my back  and because of the progress I was able to make on my Equicizer considering the extent of my injury, a month after having my brace removed followed by another month of rehabilitation on the Equicizer, my doctors cleared me medically to start getting back on horses. 

How is the Equicizer a part of your training routine?
I continue to use my Equicizer every day. I usually ride it for about 20-45 mins a day working on different skills such as throwing crosses, switching my stick, the motion of pushing on a horse and of course my overall seat. My Equicizer has made me a much stronger rider and helped me improve in so many different ways because I'm able to practice over and over again until I get it. I'm feeling much more comfortable than I have ever felt and feel even better than before my injury.

What motivates you?
My biggest motivation is my desire to succeed and seeing how far I have come and seeing myself achieving things I never thought I would. I am constantly wanting to improve off of that. I want to be successful more than anything and that motivates me every single day because to me failure is not an option.

Who is your equestrian idol?
My equestrian Idol would have to be Emma-Jayne Wilson. She is a female Jockey currently riding at Woodbine racetrack. I have always admired her simply because she is a female in a male dominated industry and has proved that the girls can do it just as good if not better than the boys can. She is my definition of success. She has won more than 1300 races in her career and is one of the best female Jockeys to ever live in my opinion but she has the statistics to back that up as well. She combined her love for horses and competition and turned it into success. I just find her attitude and ability nothing short of amazing. She talks often in articles and interviews about using her Equicizer during her every day training and part of her fitness routines and in my opinion she happens to be one of the strongest finishers on a horse I have ever seen so I'm sure she knows what she's talking about. I recently read an article about her in the Huffington Post where she says " My motivation is becoming the best that I can be" and that accurately sums up the kind of person she is in one sentence and why she is one of my biggest role models in this game and why she is so successful at what she does.

We would like to extend a sincere thank you to Isabelle for the time she gave to this interview and wish her the very best in her career endeavors as a jockey!

Amanda Chicotel

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

My Heroes, llc. Hippotherapy

Introducing Physical Therapist, Brent Applegate! 

Brent Applegate is a physical therapist and horse enthusiast who grew up on a Texas farm, but it wasn't until his preparation for physical therapy school years later that he became reacquainted with horses through the largely unknown world of 'hippotherapy'.

My Heroes, llc.
After five years of working as a clinical therapist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, he was asked to begin a hippotherapy program for them and hasn’t looked back since. In 2005 Brent started My Heroes, llc. at Chastain Horse Park in Atlanta, GA and it is now a staple in the community. My Heroes offers a number of services including occupational therapy, home based therapy, and special "diagnosis specific" camps and programs to special needs riders of all ages.

How Their Equicizer Is Used

Brent is a big fan of the Equicizer and uses their “Blackjack” extensively throughout his program. Says Brent, "I use the Equicizer regularly for a variety of purposes in our clinical sessions. I use it as a stepping stone to getting on a live horse for patients who are first time horse riders or are just anxious about riding a horse for the first time. I use it to practice vaulting or other higher-level transitional movements prior to attempting them on a live horse. And I use it when I want to ride tandem with a rider so I can be more hands-on and provide more hands-on stabilization."

In the fall of 2011, Brent moved his family to the front range of Colorado to begin a second program at the Equine Center at Colorado State University.​ "My first rider in Colorado was a lifelong cowboy who had been in a car accident and suffered a spinal cord injury," states Brent. "He was wheelchair-bound and never thought he would ride a horse again, but after six months of training on the Equicizer his trunk grew strong enough and he was able to get on horseback and maintain his balance and posture with no problem at all. That was a very special day. For all of us."

Most recently, in the spring of 2017, a third location was opened in Denver, Colorado at the National Western Stock Show. My Heroes, llc. is working closely with the Temple Grandin Equine Center and Colorado State University to provide the service of equine assisted therapy to all in the area. To go along with their newly opened location, they purchased a second Equicizer - Deputy – who will aid their equine assisted therapy efforts in the Denver area. 

To learn more about Brent Applegate and his organization, please visit: 
by Kayla Jarvinen

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Meet Project R.I.D.E. & Stella the Equicizer

We hope you enjoy this blog - previously featured on our website - written by Lauren Bender about Project R.I.D.E. and how their Equicizer, Stella, is an important part of their program!

Project R.I.D.E. Inc., (Riding Instruction Designed for Education), is a Premier Accredited PATH International Center that provides recreational horseback riding instruction to over 500 children and adults with special needs. Serving in the greater Sacramento CA metropolitan area, Project R.I.D.E. Inc., provides mounted lessons, non-mounted lessons, and special lessons on our amazing custom-made Equicizer, “Stella.”
Stella is a wonderful way to introduce new or fearful students to our therapeutic riding program, and can even help develop advanced skills in independent riders. In fact, some of our riders have become so fond of “Stella” that they prefer riding her over the actual horses! Stella is beloved by our students because she is beautiful, approachable, smaller than an actual horse, easy to mount and dismount, and FUN to ride. The staff love her because she is the best behaved equine in the barn. She doesn’t make a mess, she doesn’t spook, and she’s an easy keeper!
At Project R.I.D.E. Inc., we use Stella with new students, fragile students we cannot place into mounted lessons, and students who exceed the weight limit of our horses. We also use her for advanced riding students working on specific riding techniques like a posting trot or two point position. Sometimes the staff even rides Stella on their lunch break for a great core workout.
Meet one of our very special students… Sophia. Sophia struggles to walk on her own and needs help to support her body. When she first started at Project R.I.D.E. Inc., Sophia was unable to stretch her legs around a real horse or even hold her body and head up. She wasn’t ready to ride a real horse in our program and needed a way to get stronger first. Her therapeutic riding instructor, Lauren, suggested she start out on Stella. “I knew immediately that I was going to get this beautiful girl on a real horse someday, and I knew exactly where to start. Our Equicizer!” claims Lauren.
Sophia began riding the Equicizer twice a week with Lauren and results began to show. Her core seemed stronger, she was able to stretch her legs around the Equicizer, and was beginning to hold her head up independently.
A little over a year after Sophia began riding the Equicizer she was ready to try the real thing. She is now riding a horse with support and continuing to work on her strength. Recently, she did something miraculous- Sophia took her first steps in school. This was something her doctors never thought she’d be able to do. If it wasn’t for a combination of things in Sophia’s life, including the Equicizer, she might not have achieved this. Sophia is one of many students who have benefitted from the Equicizer. Stella is so important to our program that a custom tent was made for her lessons which includes a disco ball, so we can dance and listen to music while students ride her. We are so thankful that Project R.I.D.E. Inc., is able to have an Equicizer as an integral part of our program.
About the Author:

Lauren Bender is a PATH International Advanced Instructor and California native who attended Centenary College in NJ to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies. She knew that she was going to work in her dream career as a therapeutic riding instructor. She now works for Project R.I.D.E. Inc., and has been there for about 3 ½ years. Currently, she teaches over 90 riders a week.
To learn more about Project R.I.D.E. or make a donation, visit:
Photos courtesy of Project R.I.D.E Inc., Lauren Bender and DL Cunningham Photography

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Healing Horses Singapore is Healing Children - Part 2

Last week we introduced you to Chithra Rogers and her ground breaking program - Healing Horses Singapore. In Part 2 of our feature on Healing Horses Singapore, we'd like to show you how Chithra is using the Equicizer in her program and how it is changing lives. (Click here to read Healing Horses Singapore is Healing Children - Part 1)
Chithra strongly believes that the earlier children can begin therapy, the more beneficial it will be for them and the more positive the outcome in reaching them successfully. In Singapore, the starting age for children to begin horseback riding as a form of therapy is limited to 6 years and older, so Chithra began work on another project as she continues to wait for land purchase approval. After discovering the Equicizer, she decided to open up a multi-sensory play center under the Healing Horses Singapore program.
“The Equicizer is the main tool used in my indoor therapeutic horse riding program through my organization called Healing Horses Singapore,” Chithra says. “Each child gets a 45 minute session atop the Equicizer. Anything I used to do using actual horses, I can still carry out on my Equicizer and it’s very safe!”
Healing Horses Singapore, a privately owned not-for-profit organization mainly focusing on early intervention for young children, is now Singapore’s first indoor therapeutic horse riding training organization catering to children with special needs up to teenagers, using the Equicizer as the primary tool.
“My students love the Equicizer as it looks exactly like a life size horse with a realistic feeling mane and tail. Some of the kids enjoy grooming it after their session. I create little tasks for those kids who have just begun to take their first few strides with the Equicizer. I have kids flying over to Singapore for their sessions. It's amazing.”
Due to the difficulty in getting land approved in Singapore and the age restrictions for beginning therapy on real horses, the Equicizer is a key part of Chithra’s mission. With the Equicizer, Chithra is able to service students much younger than she otherwise would be able to and she is already building up a strong clientele of students, who come for sessions on the Equicizer, and are seeing incredible results in a very short span of time.
Looking to the future, Chithra says, “I would love to branch out Healing Horses throughout Asia as we've been approached by many neighboring countries to start up branches there. When time permits, we would definitely love to so.”
We are very proud of the work that Chithra is doing and look forward to following her progress with the Equicizer through the development of Healing Horses Singapore.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Healing Horses Singapore is Healing Children - Part 1

Chithra Rogers, following her combined passion for horses and children, is bringing awareness to kids with special needs in her home country of Singapore, and the Equicizer is being used as a main component in the development of this ground breaking project. We're excited to feature Chithra and tell her story as she continues to help children and forge new pathways in Singapore, inspiring people on a now global level.

Chithra was born in her native Singapore, but fueled by an interest in horse racing, she flew to Brisbane, Australia in 2002 to "attain holistic knowledge about race horses in both theoretical and practical aspects at the Australian Racing Institute." She returned to Singapore and joined the racing industry as a Trainee Apprentice Jockey following the completion of her apprenticeship. After realizing more of the risks involved in riding racehorses through personal experience, she changed course and left for Melbourne, Australia in 2006 to pursue a career in training. While there, she became a stable manager and volunteered at the RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association).
As time went by, in 2008, after moving back to Singapore and working as an assistant trainer, she made the tough decision to leave the racing industry for good. Her passion for horses was as strong as it had ever been, and through her volunteering at various therapeutic riding programs over the years, she had discovered a second passion which was equally as strong – raising awareness for children with special needs.
Dedicated to educating herself as much as possible, Chithra completed her academic qualifications in Learning Disorders Management and Child Psychology as well as Special Education. She noted that she also, "worked closely with mild to severe cases of Autistic Children at a reputable special needs school in Singapore" while pursuing her studies. She is currently an international member of PATH and is waiting to pursue her Masters in Special Education. Working with her Mentor, she stays informed on the latest interventions, allowing her to continue to polish her skills and knowledge.
About 4 years ago, Chithra started a quest to purchase land for a therapeutic riding center of her own. This has proved to be a very difficult task, due to the shortage of land available in Singapore. In Chithra’s own words, “That is when I came across this beautiful hand-crafted wooden horse the Equicizer from the USA. It made my dream come alive again! I was happy to meet the director of Wooden Horse Corporation – Mr. Frankie Lovato - a wonderful human being. He explained all about the Equicizer and also made me watch the start-up videos which are available in Youtube.”
In the meantime, Chithra approached many existing riding schools, sharing her vision and hoping to lease space to start her program. Surprisingly, this has proved to be another difficult task and after finding one such temporary place and holding lessons under the organization she founded, “Healing Horses Singapore”, things went south and others began trying to implement her ideas on their own.
So what did Chithra do? Carry on, of course.

"I developed a highly innovative indoor therapeutic horse riding school centered around the Equicizer, using a holistic approach incorporating medical, emotional and financial needs of the family and children involved. I want to make sure the training is accessible to a wider community and give children the help they truly deserve."
Check back on July 26th to learn how Chithra is using the Equicizer in her ground breaking program.
by Kayla Jarvinen

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dream Catcher's "Woody"

The Equicizer is an ever more prominent figure in the world of therapeutic riding. We recently received a few pictures of "Woody" who is a part of the Dream Catcher of L.A. Therapeutic Riding Center herd.
The mission of Dream Catcher of Los Angeles Therapeutic Riding Center's is to improve the lives of children, adults, and veterans with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities through the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-assisted activities, while serving the therapeutic riding profession through training and education.

In their own words: "Dream Catcher of Los Angeles'  volunteers and riders, are enjoying our equicizer! Thank you to Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation for our incredible gift."

We have seen - over and over again - the benefit the Equicizer has and continues to be for those dealing with disabilities of all kinds. Over the course of this summer we're going to introduce you to a few of the organizations and programs that continue to change lives through the use of both the Equicizer and their wonderful herds of therapy horses.

For this Wooden Horse Wednesday, we'll leave you with these wonderful photos that are a constant reminder of the joy that our angel horses bring - both the live and the wooden ones.

by Kayla Jarvinen