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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Building Confidence with Captain Jack - Part 1

"The Equicizer is absolutely the most unique and worthwhile exercise creation I have ever used. It continues to amaze me how the Equicizer absolutely mimics the movements of a real horse enabling our body to gain strength, mobility, and confidence in preparation of actually getting back in the saddle again!

We love our Equicizer, Captain Jack. He has been extremely beneficial for both K8 and I. In the winter of 2017 I acquired Sciatica from doctoring my "Longdust" horse (winter laminitis complicated by PPID/EMS). After going through three different physical therapy programs with no relief, I started my own program in 2018 with Captain Jack. My motivation also came from the great osteo-arthritis video I had viewed from the Wooden Horse.

Progress is sweet, and with the help of the Captain I have dodged the 'invasive back surgery bullet' as of today, ironically, per my primary care Doctor's advice and plan forward!

The quality of workmanship put into the Equicizer is exceptional! The greatest invention of our time. Thank you so much again for inventing the Wooden Horse...he is priceless!"

A couple of years ago we made "Captain Jack" the Equicizer for Lyn and her family. We recently received the message above from Lyn, who graciously agreed to tell us more about the story behind the real life Captain Jack and how he led to the Equicizer entering their lives:

We are a Ranching Family of four: Dan, Lyn, & 2 cowgirls - Lisa & Katy. We started out on Spanish Creek / Flying D Ranch in the 1970's near Bozeman, Montana. We incorporated horses in our daily lives as we followed Dan's charge of mother cows to three different cow camp locations on a yearly basis.

Our daughter Kate was born with hypotonia (basically, lack of muscle tone). Over the years, Kate's love for horses got her into the Special Olympics in the Denver, Colorado area. She competed on a palomino paint mare, Sally, an obvious partnership. Sally found her forever home with Kate when the people behind Horsepower (handicapped riding club) offered Sally to Kate for $1, the price of a brand inspection at that time.

Together they successfully competed in the local 4-H Club due, in part, to the special people that were willing to make this duo feel welcome and part of the group. When the year end 4-H competition was held, Kate and Sally placed, but the little gal with the purple ribbon came up to them and said "You both deserve this and I would be honored if you'd accept this ribbon!" 4-H & FFA were great clubs for kids!

From the Escalante Ranch in Colorado our horses rode with us on the historic TS Ranch near Battle Mountain, Nevada for the next 25 years. Kate continued to ride Sally in these wide open spaces full of cattle, calves and adventure until Sally's time was up. The TS cowboss offered Kate a nice Buckskin, Captain Jack, who had a history of not being pleased with Cowboys in general. But the Captain saw something in Kate that made them click, so they became silent partners and were asked to help move cows when needed.

Early mornings on horseback, sorting calves by the Boss's (Dan's) direction was a dream job for us. Kate was in high school now, and had plateaued out on the Special Ed academics, so we "invented" a school to work program that involved Kate, Captain Jack and the TS feedlot on a daily basis. Kate was responsible for a daily journal and logging her hours as a teammate with the crew at the feedlot or when moving cattle to new pastures, the amount of time spent on horseback, etc. so there was a lot of math going on!

When Captain Jack reached over 35 years of age he went on to meet up with Sally. Kate tried out quite a few horses but never really found a partner as true as Jack. Kate's last years in the feedlot were spent on a big brown horse that was kind and honest until the cinch faltered and the saddle Kate was riding slipped under his belly. Kate grew wings and landed on her feet, but it took some time and talent to cut the cinch free. That episode was a confidence breaker for Kate and finding a confidence building horse is not an easy task...

More on how Captain Jack the Equicizer came into the lives of Lyn's family in our next Wooden Horse Wednesday blog post.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Guest Post: Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center

Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center, a non profit organization located in Brooksville, FL, was founded by Lisa Michelangelo, PT in the fall of 2014. Lisa recently took the time to tell us more about the work they do at Emerald M and the role the Equicizer plays in their program.

by Lisa Michelangelo

Emerald M began by offering hippotherapy and therapeutic riding services and most recently in the last 16 months has expanded to working with military veterans and their families. Emerald M's participants start as young as 2 years old with a variety of disabilities such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, Down's syndrome, autism, PTSD, and a variety of other neurological and orthopedic issues. Often times, these children and adults are fearful or incapable of riding a real horse when they begin the program. 

I knew the value in the Equicizer as I was introduced to it at a therapeutic program where I used to work and desperately wanted it for Emerald M. By the generosity of many of my participants, an Equicizer "the Black Stallion", was donated to the program in 2017.

The Equicizer has been a huge asset to our therapeutic program. Because we live in Florida, our summers are extremely hot and rainy, and many of our participants can't tolerate the intense heat or their sessions get canceled due to rain. We have located our Equicizer in an air conditioned room allowing for these participants to still attend sessions at the farm and also preventing them from regression. 
Most recently we had a child that needed surgery on her ankle and was restricted in a cast for 6 weeks. She was unable to ride the real horse, but was able to still receive services by using the Equicizer. The Equicizer has also been a great benefit when introducing a new concept to a participant that they are having difficulty grasping. It is much easier to introduce it in a more controlled setting and then transfer it over to the real horse. 

Our Equicizer is so important to our program and we are so blessed to have it!


Brianna is a very special part of Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Program. Below is her incredibly inspiring story of will and determination. 

If you'd like to learn more about the services that Emerald M provides and/or how you can support them, visit their website! You can also follow Emerald M on facebook.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Facts, Figures, and Fun!

This week on Wooden Horse Wednesday we are looking at the numbers. Play along by writing down the answers to these questions and see how many you get right! You may be surprised at the answers....

These questions refer to Equicizers created since 1988. If data was missing on a particular Equicizer sale, it was not counted.

What US state has the most Equicizers?
Hint: It's not Ohio- the home of Wooden Horse Headquarters. 

What country in the world have we exported the most Equicizers to?
Hint: It's an island!

In what year (so far) were the most Equicizers built?
Hint: George W Bush was president.

Of people who have declared their Equicizer will be used for a particular purpose/discipline, what purpose is the most common?
Hint: The creator of the Equicizer rode this discipline when he was a professional athlete.

What is the most common color for an Equicizer?
Hint: The answer is the color of a horse that was the star of a famous novel by Anna Sewell.

Equicizer USA

Answer: The Golden State aka California accounts for 92 Equicizer purchases! Next in line are Florida (50), Texas (45), and Ohio (46).

Equicizer World

Answer: Not including the 725 Equicizers that stayed here in the US, Japan is the number one location we ship to! Other popular destinations are Canada, the UK, and Australia.

Equicizer Years
Answer: This graph represents the number of Equicizers Frankie has hand crafted each year. The year 2007 has been our most productive year so far but we have big plans for 2019 and beyond! *From 1988-2004 Frankie was balancing his jockey career while building Equicizers on the side. He retired in late 2004 and started building Equicizers full time in 2005. 

Answer: Of those who have declared a purpose for their Equicizer, we most often hear racing! Makes sense as the creation of the Equicizer was a direct result of Frankie's involvement in it.

Answer: The most popular color for Equicizers is black! Who hasn't always wanted their own black beauty? Black is followed by bay and brown... but did you know we have made blue, green, garnet, and mauve Equicizers?

We hope you enjoyed these facts and figures. Let us know in the comments if you guessed any of the trivia questions right! We would love to hear from our customers around the globe about your experiences with your horse. Please feel free to contact us at!

Compiled by Amanda Elia

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Guest Post: Mounted Archery & More

Today we have a special guest post from Equicizer owner, Deb Pawlyshyn, who operates a farm in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Their primary focus, " in herbs, horses, sheep and alpacas. Currently we specialize in breeding Warmblood horses and specialty breeds of fibre sheep." Deb uses her Equicizer "Stormy" not only for herself but also for her students in a multitude of ways, including mounted archery. 

We're very excited to have Deb as our featured guest blogger today!

Throughout a lifetime of owning and training horses, I have had my share of accidents. My most serious accidents however didn't involve horses at all. One of my worst accidents was driving a forklift (LR7) onto a tractor trailer. The trailer had pulled out just as I was driving over the dock ramp. The forks on the lift slammed into the trailer just as the dock locks were activated. I was thrown into the air and landed on top of the machine. 

My injuries were mostly soft tissue, nerve damage, torn ligaments and tendons that supported my pelvis area. Riding and training horses was not possible for a long time. After the injury my recovery period was extensive. I felt like I couldn't get back to how I was no matter how hard I trained and no matter how much physio I did. Gradually I did get back to riding but I was never the same. My inner core was weak and there was a tightness from internal scar tissue.

In 2010 I purchased my Equicizer. It was a big deal for me (and it will stay with me for life). I had it shipped to Vancouver Island in Canada from the States. Sandy Lovato was my contact person and was incredible to deal with. She knew a little of my injuries and worked hard to make it possible for me to have one. I will always treasure her for that. 

The Canadian dollar was inconsistent and dropping throughout our talks and it soon became apparent I wouldn't have enough money. Sandy made it possible for me to still purchase the Equicizer by not charging me for the wheels. I would have been happy to go without wheels as long as I had the Equicizer but Sandy would not allow that and gave me the wheels for free. She said that I would thank her later. How right she was.

The Equicizer helped me a tremendous amount that first summer I had it. I had three horses coming in for training all with serious issues. That year everything went well. I had the Equicizer in my kitchen and would watch the news, ride and eat my breakfast (porridge) in a cup all at the same time. The 15 minutes on the Equicizer every morning set the stage for me to do serious work on my real horses. I was limber, my core was activated, my muscle memory strong. I credit the Equicizer for that.

Over the years we have adapted the Equicizer to work on various skills including roping and mounted archery. Imagine roping a dummy in your living room while the weather outside is roaring with a gale force storm. We taught kids mathematics, chemical equations, and the alphabet using the Equicizer. We utilized the student's large muscle mass (the thighs) to activate a different electrical pathway to the brain, a form of hippo-therapy. The movements that the Equicizer creates is similar to a horse's movements. The Equicizer creates a positive learning environment and most importantly - it is safe.

Right now as I write this, my Equicizer "Bask Song" aka "Stormy" (named after my dressage stallion) is outside under cover in his special trailer. Last summer Stormy was mostly used as a practice mount for mounted archery with students young and old. This winter he will be brought in for rehab work (hip replacements) and to help prepare me for an important upcoming project. I'm getting ready to start training the soon to be 4 year old feisty daughter of my Warmblood stallion. She will be a handful as I train using resistant free responses. Guess who will be assisting me? 

by Deb Pawlyshyn
Co-owner of Gun Barrel Canyon Farms -
Home of Warmblood M.M. Toblerone and Bask Song the Equicizer


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Equicizer Q & A Part 2

This week we have Part 2 in our Equicizer Q & A series.

Is there a smaller version of the Equicizer for children? 

At one time we did build a smaller version of the Equicizer specifically for children but we soon realized that our current Equicizer model sufficed for all sizes and ages of riders and as such was more practical. Many children were outgrowing our "Equipony" version and the current Equicizer we make can be enjoyed by the entire family. 

If the child cannot make the Equicizer move on their own, the motion can easily be replicated by an adult placing one hand on the Equicizers head or neck and creating the motion for the child. The Equicizer can also be ridden tandem. 

Do you have to be a rider to have an Equicizer? 

Not by a long shot! Our Equicizer owners are as varied as the Equicizers themselves. While many riders do use and benefit from the Equicizer as a training tool, we have many customers - some who have never ever set foot on a horse - who use the Equicizer on a daily basis. 

Some of our customers rode horses in their youth and the Equicizer is a fun way for them to reconnect with that part of themselves without the expense and danger of a real horse. Others are not horse people at all but simply looking for a fun way to stay in shape. The refined, hand crafted appearance of the Equicizer makes it the ideal piece of exercise or training equipment as it can easily be placed in a living room or common area.

What skills are involved in the building process?

This is a great question and one I don't think we've received before! It's also a loaded question. The process of building an Equicizer is literally, a labor of love. The building process starts with the purchasing, cutting, gluing up and then carving and sanding of the Equicizer heads to give them their shape. We outlined this process in a past blog. Later on the Equicizer heads are stained, urethaned and sanded multiple times before the final painting and finishing coat is applied.

Aside from the carving and carpentry work, there are also elements of upholstery; wood finishing, painting, and airbrushing; fastening and assembling various parts and steel components; mixing filament for the mane and tails; in house packaging and other fine detailing.

What Equicizer color shows the least amount of dirt?

This is a question we get all the time and it's a very good one! When you think of color scales - be it for clothes, cars or anything in between - generally the lighter the color, the more dirt we assume it will show. While it is true that the lighter shades of carpet will show dirt more readily than the darker shades on our Equicizers, the darker colored Equicizers will show everything else from hair to fuzz.

We thoroughly vacuum each Equicizer prior to packaging so it's in pristine condition upon arrival (sticky tape works great as well) and the black Equicizers take at least twice as long to clean up. Think about your favorite pair of black pants. You can rest easy knowing that an accidental splash of mud will be pretty well hidden but by the end of the day, if you're not careful, you'll be covered in every other particle that floats through the air.

If one of your priorities when purchasing an Equicizer is a color that cleans up quickly and easily, we highly recommend one of our lighter colors such as the Palomino or Buckskin. 

What are some of the most interesting places you've sold to? 

This will be fun! We've shipped Equicizers to 6 continents and over 30 countries in the 25 years we've officially been in business. Some of the most interesting places we've shipped to include Cyrpus, Dubai, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam just to name a few. Over the years, Japan has been one of our biggest repeat international customers.


We had a fun time answering all of the questions you sent us and hope that you not only enjoyed reading our answers but learned a thing or two as well! Thank you to everyone who participated! 

by Kayla Jarvinen

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Equicizer Q & A Part 1

Back in July we published a blog post on some of the similarities and differences between our two Equicizer Models - the Equicizer Classic and the Equicizer Elite. As promised, we also want to cover some of the other common questions that we get about the Equicizer in general including the building, shipping and purchasing processes. This will be fun!

Is the Equicizer used for exercise only?

While the Equicizer is commonly used as a tool to exercise on, that's only one of the many ways it's used. The Equicizer is often used as a training tool in both private homes and public facilities for riders to work on things such as correct posture, form, balance, alignment and more, which can then be carried over almost seamlessly to a real horse. The Equicizer is also used by many people for rehabilitation purposes. It's becoming very popular among therapeutic riding programs; the Equicizer is used by programs around the world.

What maintenance does the Equicizer require?​ 

Virtually none! While we always recommend using care with your Equicizer like you would any nice piece of equipment, the Equicizer is built to last. We use high quality materials including a marine grade carpet which can be sprayed and washed down to clean if needed (we don't recommend completely soaking the carpet to avoid saturating the padding underneath). 

The only parts that may ever need replacing on the Equicizer are the springs, neck bands and wheels. All of these parts are under warranty for a period of time with each new Equicizer purchase and we sell them in our online store. We offer a 3 year warranty on springs and resistant neck bands for the Classic for personal use or 18 months for schools, programs etc. where being used by multiple riders. We offer a 10 year warranty on springs and resistant neck bands for the Elite for personal use or 5 years for schools, programs etc where being used by multiple riders.

Can the Equicizer simulate the two beat trot and the canter?

The Equicizer offers the sensation of a horse in all gaits for the exception of the trot (a two beat gait). The Equicizer does not simulate the trot but you can do the posting exercise in rhythm on the Equicizer which strengthens your legs and core for the sitting trot on a real horse and is an excellent exercise in and of itself. This is a great example of a posting trot on the Equicizer, demonstrated by Dressage Instructor, Meg Hilly: 

How many labor hours go into making every amazing Equicizer?

Many!! We build Equicizers in sets of 4 at a time. Our goal is to build 8 Equicizers a month, which breaks down to a set of 4 every two weeks or so. This is barring any unforeseen delays with parts used in the manufacturing process. Depending on how busy we are, we're in the workshop anywhere from 5-7 days a week.

What is the most “interesting or high profile” sale that’s been made, either by a person or place? 

This is a great question. The first sale that comes to mind is the movie Seabiscuit. Equicizers were used in all of the close up scenes for the movie, which aired in 2003. The film purchased 2 Equicizers from us directly and borrowed 4 more locally in California for the production. One of the Equicizers was put in actor Toby Maguire's home so that he could train on it in preparation for the race riding scenes he would be acting out (also on Equicizers).

Here' s a cool "would have/could have been" on the most interesting sales list. Last year, the Equicizer appeared on a taping of the Ellen DeGeneres show, "Ellen". After the show aired we got a call from Ellen's assistant. She said that Ellen loved the Equicizer so much she went backstage and hopped on it during a break in the taping and said that she wanted to get one for her home. If you're reading this Ellen... we're still waiting on that phone call! 


For more fun question and answers, check back in two weeks for Part 2! 

by Kayla Jarvinen

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Wooden Milestone

Keeping with our recent throwback theme (have you seen these vintage videos we recently uncovered, featuring interviews with Equicizer creator Frankie Lovato during his racing career?), today we have another fun blast to the past: our 500th Equicizer! 

First, some backstory. Frankie built his 500th Equicizer in 2006. It was extra special for a couple of reasons. Frankie had just moved his Equicizer operation from his Long Island single car garage to a  rented workshop in an effort to increase his manufacturing capabilities to meet the rising demand for Equicizers. Over the span of 17 years he had built around 400 Equicizers in his tiny garage while maintaining a full time career as a professional jockey and this specific Equicizer was one of close to 100 that he built in that first year of moving into the bigger space. In many ways, it represented the growth that was taking place within the business. 
Triple Crown winning jockey, Mike Smith, visited Frankie's
NY workshop in 2006 for an Equicizer photo shoot.
Shown here aboard none other than #500.

That aside, it was also Frankie's 500th Equicizer ever built, which was, in and of itself, a monumental milestone. 

Due to the sentimental value, Frankie decided he would keep this Equicizer and use it as a demo model. Around this time Frankie moved his family and his business to his late wife, Sandy's, home town of Norwalk, Ohio. The 500th Equicizer came with them and shortly after accompanied them to PATH International's (the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) national conference. 

Equicizer #500 was used as a demo during
PATH International's national conference in 2006.

Around that time Frankie received a call from the Jockey's Guild, a major organization dedicated to the representation of professional jockeys in Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing. They were planning to hold a fundraiser and wanted an Equicizer there. What would be the possibility of purchasing one immediately? Absolutely none. Zero. Zilch. It just wasn't possible. 

Frankie was back ordered as usual and even if he could have moved them up to the front of his building queue, he still wouldn't have been able to make a brand new Equicizer in time. Unless... he did have his 500th that was being used as a demo... after some internal conflict, Frankie made the decision to part ways with his 500th Equicizer. It was, after all, going to an undeniably good cause in the sport that had given him so much including the customer base that had launched his career as a business owner building Equicizers. 

Current and past top jockeys from around the country
gather around the Churchill Downs Equicizer (#500) for a photo.

The decision was made, the fundraiser was held and Churchill Downs Racetrack came out on top as the winning bidder. Frankie and Sandy personally delivered the Equicizer to the Churchill Downs Jockeys' Room, up the escalator and all (how we would have loved some footage of that!). 

"I remember building my 100th Equicizer in the early 90's, then my 200th in the mid 90's and finally approaching number 500," recalls Frankie. "These milestones meant a lot to me. Every horse I've ever made I've numbered so it was exciting for me knowing I would be getting close to the next milestone. My dream was to someday have a real workshop. To spread out, have all my work stations with other craftsmen working for me. I wanted to someday have an office and showroom where people could come see and try my horses. 

At the time, that dream was out of reach, so I made do with what I had which was my little garage, then the workshop I rented and now my very own space right in my backyard here in Ohio. Looking back, I am very proud to have made all of that happen."

We have some awesome photos of recent Triple Crown winning jockeys - Victor Espinoza and Mike Smith - warming up on the Churchill Downs Equicizer prior to their Derby wins. Churchill Downs also uses their Equicizer for various public events at the racetrack. 

Triple Crown winning jockeys Mike Smith (left) and Victor Espinoza (right) warming up aboard the Churchill Downs Equicizer, #500. They both went on to win horse racing's Triple Crown in 2018 and 2015, respectively.

We recently received this video from Clerk of Scales Javier Torres, of jockey Jack Gilligan warming up on Equicizer #500 before a race at Churchill Downs... and it's still going strong.

by Kayla Jarvinen