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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Manna's Hana Veterans Program & the Equicizer

Over five years ago, Manna's Hana Riding Center was just a dream. Today, we are in our seventh year impacting the lives of children with special needs and their families. God has birthed this ministry and I am thankful that I said "yes" to His calling. The horses are amazing with the children and teach them to be patient and kind. 

An Equicizer was recently purchased by Manna's Hana Riding Center in Cookevillle, Tennessee - specifically for their Veterans program - and shortly after receiving it, we were thrilled to get the following feedback, first from their Executive Director and Instructor, Bobbie Abell who shared in detail about their Veterans Program and how their Equicizer will be used:

"In 2017, Manna’s Hana Riding Center expanded our services to include CAMP HANA Program for our Military Veterans and offered Free to our veterans participating in the program. A Grant from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas District of Sparta, Tennessee provided funding to run the program. We had three military veteran volunteers from Manna’s Hana Riding Center and a new veteran become a part of the program which ran for eight weeks. The veterans met at the riding center each week for an hour and a half, ending each meeting with a meal. On the seventh week they went on a trail ride and the bonding became stronger as they shared this experience and a meal afterwards. During this program, I witnessed healing in several of our veterans were sharing over the meals. One veteran wanted to keep coming and help with the horses. Feeling accepted and comfortable at the riding center was one of our goals with the program. Paul Abell, co-founder of Manna’s Hana assists him as they feed the horses each Saturday.

The Equicizer will be used next year to help the veterans experience how it feels to be on a horseas we work on balance, core muscle strength and stamina before they go on a trail ride. We are excited to see what next year brings."

Along with Bobbie's detailed explanation, we received the following testimonial from Paul Abell, co-founder of Manna's Hana and a big part of their program:

"As a veteran without PTSD or a physical injury, I was skeptical about joining the Camp HANA group. I decided to join to see if I could help other veterans. I was pleasantly surprised to find I could and make a difference.

The horses do all the work and make all the difference. It is the interaction of the horse and individual that makes progress possible. Our horses are therapeutic horses and are older, in their 20’s, and we have a weight limit set for them for riders of around 170 lbs. Most of the veterans, so far, have been too heavy to ride so we purchased the Equicizer to help. It allows our veterans to practice mounting and dismounting and actually feeling the simulated movement of a real horse. They get to ride without fear of injury or accident. The Equicizer has been a blessing to all our students, not just the Veterans."

We are excited that the Equicizer is now a part of Manna's Hana Riding Center and look forward to watching their Veterans Program continue to expand with the new addition of their Equicizer!

For more information on Manna's Hana Riding Center, Inc. you can check out their facebook page or visit their website.

by Kayla Jarvinen

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Equicizer visits Lazy L Ranch

Last week we joined Steve Lantvit Horsemanship at a clinic hosted by Lazy L Ranch. Located in North Lawrence, Ohio Lazy L is situated on a gorgeous piece of land that, "encompasses 400 acres and features a heated indoor arena, four heated barns totaling over 50 stalls, outdoor riding pads and miles of open and wooded trails." 

I think it's safe to say everyone - horses included - were a bit intrigued as we rolled "Mocha" and "Maggie" into the spacious indoor arena where lunch was taking place over an impressive spread. We were more than delighted at the warm reception we received as well as the informative, and highly entertaining, training session that ensued.

As noted on their website, Lazy L has, "...been privileged to build many fine teams of riders and horses throughout the years. We take special care and personal interest in assisting our riders with finding the best prospects available that match the abilities and needs of both the horse and the rider."

Lazy L offers a wide variety of services including but not limited to Reining, Cow / Cutting Horses, Barrel Horses, Cowboy Mounted Shooting, Pleasure / HUS, Trail / Riding Horses and Stud Prospects. They have their own transport service that spans across the United States.  

During our visit, Steve Lantvit offered training tips and tools as he worked with attendees aboard the Equicizer and we couldn't leave without a good jockey lesson by Frankie Lovato for anyone who was game enough to try. Below are a few more photos taken during our visit:  

To learn more about Lazy L Ranch and the services they offer, check out their facebook page and visit their website:

*Photos courtesy of Lazy L Ranch's facebook page.  
by Kayla Jarvinen

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Whispering Grace Horses

In August we had the pleasure of joining Steve Lantvit and his wife Jenn for an afternoon at a clinic they were doing at Whispering Grace Horses in Massillon, Ohio. We brought along a couple of Equicizers and while there, Frankie and the Equicizers joined Steve to shoot an upcoming episode of his RFD-TV show "Sure in the Saddle". That show airs tomorrow - Thursday, November 16th - at 3pm and 11pm EST!  

Whispering Grace Horses was founded by Bill and Marcia Shearer. We had the pleasure of touring their beautiful facility and meeting some of the many friendly faces that grace their program. Their goal as stated through their mission statement is to provide, "...HEALING (the rescue of HUMANS and HORSES) of the HEART while encouraging an atmosphere including HOPE through Christ-centered prayer and guidance in our community." You can learn more about them by visiting their website and tuning into tomorrow's episode of Sure in the Saddle!

Below are some behind the scenes photos from the filming:


by Kayla Jarvinen

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My Rehab Journey with the Equicizer

A few months ago I was kicked in the knee by a horse and sustained a tibial plateau fracture. As someone who has been a lifelong distance runner and a participant in many different equestrian activities, from saddleseat equitation to polo, this was a devastating injury.  I’m also an equine veterinarian, so my job involves a lot of physical activity, and horses, horses, horses. 

Needless to say, I was crushed to be told that my injury would require six to eight weeks of non-weight-bearing with my leg immobilized in a brace. I learned about the Equicizer from a friend who had used one for rehabilitation from an injury. I was determined to get back to riding and running, and it seemed that an Equicizer could play a key role in my rehabilitation.  The Equicizer was the first workout I did when my surgeon told me my bone was healed and I could start the rehabilitation phase of my injury. Five months out, I’m back riding my “real” horses and starting to return to running, so I thought I would share my experience in the hope that it might help others.

First, the Equicizer is a FANTASTIC workout that can be adapted to many different levels of healing and rehabilitation. When I started rehab my knee didn’t bend at all and I hadn’t put any weight on it for six weeks. I started out riding bareback for 5 minutes twice per day and worked up to a single 20-minute ride. This was a great core workout that put no stress at all on my knee while allowing me to work at an intensity that gave me an aerobic workout as well. As I was able to bear weight on my leg I started doing some work with my feet in the stirrups and working into a half seat, and finally riding jockey-style. All of this gave me a sense for whether or not I could function properly on a live horse, and when I did feel ready the transition was seamless. I had great stability and core strength, and had confidence that my knee could handle the stress of a real ride. 

Currently I ride for 20 minutes almost every day, alternating five minutes of no-stirrups and 5 minutes jockey-style (and I sure do have a new appreciation for how hard those guys work!). I was able to find an old racing saddle, and that is what I use as it makes it easy to move from one style of riding to another without having to take the saddle on and off. One of the great things about the Equicizer is that you can get it going with your core muscles or your arms, so it is really a full-body workout. Keep in mind that I had a very serious injury, and that my overall level of activity was guided by my surgeon initially and then by my physical therapist, so be sure to work with your team if you are rehabilitating an injury. From my perspective, any athlete who wants an exceptional core workout should own an Equicizer, even if they have no desire to ever ride a real horse!
Second, the Equicizer can be used for many different stretching and bending exercises. I adapted some of my yoga routine that I could no longer do on the mat to my Equicizer. I am also able to practice bending and twisting in all of the ways required to return to playing polo.

Third, the Equicizer is truly a work of art. I had hard time deciding what I wanted my Equicizer to look like, and considered one of my favorite racehorses, my first horse that I had until the age of 32, or one of my “imaginary” horses I had as a child. I decided on my imaginary palomino with the face markings of my old horse. Frankie did an amazing job carving and painting the head, he is a very talented artist. I gave my Equicizer the name of Dandelion, as I’ve always thought they are a great metaphor for life: you can pull them out, drive over them with a lawnmower, and put weed-killers on them and they just keep popping back up and doing their thing. Kind of how you have to be when a horse kicks you in the knee, but you still have some things that you want to do in life.
Finally, I can’t say enough good things about Frankie, Kayla and the Wooden Horse Company.  If you’ve come to this page thinking that the Equicizer could fill a role in your life, you are probably right, go for it! If you have questions that are different than the ones I had and have tried to answer, just pick up the phone and have a chat with Frankie, they will be happy to talk to you.

by Margaret M. Brosnahan

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Grace Lake Ministries

This week we’re highlighting Grace Lake Ministries, a Therapeutic Riding Program based out of Anna, Texas that provides healing through their faith centered program. They purchased an Equicizer back in 2008 and we’re happy to be able to share the amazing work they are doing.

Founded in 2004 by Holly Robinson - an Advanced PATH Therapeutic Riding Instructor, Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, and Social Worker – Grace Lake Ministries is run out of her family's barn on her parents 230 acre ranch. Holly says the inspiration behind the founding of Grace Lake Ministries was, “God inspired and supported extensively by my family.”

When asked who Grace Lake Ministries services she says simply, “Grace Lake serves anyone in need of hope and healing.” Their website notes that this includes children and adults, people with disabilities and people without disabilities, youth with obvious social problems, and youth without obvious social problems.

Their Equicizer “Rocko,” named by Holly’s husband, was purchased in 2008.

“We use our Equicizer for all initial evaluation and to teach specific skills that a rider is struggling with on the horse due to receiving too much sensory input from the horse. We also have riders that stretch out on Rocko before each ride,” Holly noted.

Not long ago Grace Lake created a video of their Equicizer "Rocko" so people can learn more about his role in their special program - Take a peek!

For more information on Grace Lake Ministries, follow their facebook page and visit their website

by Kayla Jarvinen

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The ABCs of Equicizer

Reminder: An upcoming episode of Steve Lantvit's "Sure in the Saddle" on RFD-TV will feature the new All-Purpose Riding Pad. The episode "Benefits of Riding Bareback" will air October 12th on RFD-TV at 3pm and 11pm ES.

The ABCs of Equicizer

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E is for Equestrian

    This one is easy. The first E in Equicizer represents equestrians because that is the primary group of people it appeals to. While there are many other applications, the original idea for the wooden horse was born of a need to regain peak riding condition.
    The Equicizer is useful for equestrians of all types and all skill levels. You can learn to rope off it, improve your balance, stretch, warm up, practice new skills safely, and much more! While there may be a lot of differences between a professional jockey and a professional barrel racer, both must achieve a very high level of fitness. Your horse might need some time off, but the Equcizier allows you to keep improving.

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Q is for Quotes

    We’d like to think that these quotes from real people using the Equicizer to train, rehab, and just have fun speak for themselves!

“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.” –Isabelle Wenc, Jockey and Equicizer Owner (read more here)

"This was something I really wanted to try but it was a lot of money for me. I kept watching the website and reading testimonial after testimonial of those the Equicizer had helped. I was especially intrigued by its use in the therapeutic riding programs. I really wanted to try one out before I committed to the purchase, but I decided that I was willing to give it a shot based on all the positive reviews.<sic>  My first ride was only about 10 minutes because that is all my hips could take. I got back on and rode another 10 minutes later. The movement of the horse is so real down to the head motion.The next morning after my first day with Mags I woke up for the first time in over six years WITHOUT back pain. That was from one day of riding the Equicizer 20 minutes. I know that watching the video on the website by Dr. James Warson on using the Equicizer (watch here) to treat osteoporosis I hoped for the same outcome with my 2 bulging discs. Today is Friday August 12, 2016 and I am so excited to report that I have not had ANY back pain since the morning of Tuesday July 12 before I rode Mags the first time. None." Jennifer, Equicizer owner (read more here)

"I was diagnosed with MS 23 years ago. Although I am managing it ok, being able to ride Chance and do exercises on him has clearly made a difference in my life. For me, Chance is my chance to stay fit from riding." Debra H., Equicizer Owner (read more here)

"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." Brent Applegate, Physical Therapist at My Heroes, llc. Hippotherapy (read more here)

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U is for Unique

    There is no product on the market that rivals the Equicizer. It is a unique design and is made with very high quality materials. While there are many products out there that have tried to imitate our product, we are confident that the design Frankie created and has perfected over the years stands out above the rest.
    The motion of the proprietary Equicizer is initiated entirely by the rider with the intensity of the movement dependent upon the rider's effort, strength and ability. This makes the Equicizer suitable for riders of all shapes, sizes, talents, abilities, and disciplines. It will be useful in every stage of riding - as you get stronger and ride stronger, the Equicizer will rise to the challenge. Additionally, the Equicizer can be operated by a handler instead of by the rider in order to simulate motion while the rider focuses on balance or coordination.

I is for International

    Do you know that the Equicizer has been shipped to 29 countries worldwide? There are people enjoying the benefits of their own wooden horse across Canada, Australia and Europe. We've even shipped to places such as Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Qatar, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea, and Kazakhastan!
    All of our horses are assembled right here in the USA but we ship far and wide across the globe. Wooden Horse Corporation has great contacts to help arrange shipping at reasonable costs for our international customers. (If you are one of our “international” customers, we would love to get an update from you for a possible feature blog!)

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C is for Creativity

     Frankie Lovato Jr created the Equicizer over 20 years ago and he is still running the show today. All Equicizers, and we really do mean ALL, are hand-made by Frankie in his workshop in Northern Ohio. This means we can guarantee the highest quality product possible and it also means that we are able to work one-on-one with our customers.
    Frankie is able to look at pictures customers send to create a wooden horse in that image. He has even done a Fjord before! We are a small team here at Wooden Horse Corporation and there is a lot of pride to go around behind the product we market, create, ship, and promote. The detail in each hand-carved Equicizer Elite head speaks for itself.

I is for Invention

    As we mentioned, the Equicizer is an invention designed and created by Frankie. The story of this industry-changing invention is one of our favorites to tell. While most people might give up after a career-ending injury like the one he suffered in 1981, Frankie was determined to get back to the top of the racing world. He wasn’t getting enough conditioning out of standard therapy equipment so his mind traveled to the creation of what we now know and love as the Equicizer.
    Choosing invention over giving up not only brought him back up to peak condition, but it has changed countless lives and careers over the past 25 years as well. Check out our blog series “The First Wooden Horse” by Business Assistant Kayla Jarvinen for a more in depth explanation on how the first Equicizer was born.
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Z is for Zoom

    Okay… so this one might be a stretch but hey, Z words are hard to come by! We here at Wooden Horse are sure that if you practice long and hard on your Equicizer, you will be ready to ZOOM back into the saddle on your own living, breathing horses!

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E is for Education

    We strive to use our social media platforms to continuously educate our customers and fans about ways to use their Equicizer and new Equicizer products/accessories. You can follow us in whatever way(s) suit you – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blogger, Email Newsletter, and/or on our website.
    Equicizer is constantly creating new content and we have great partnerships with people like horseman Steve Lantvit (see the announcement above!). Stay connected with us to stay educated on all the latest and greatest news!

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R is for Ready

    Make the Equicizer part of your team alongside you, your horse, and your coach. You will be more ready for time in the saddle than you have ever been before. You can warm up on the Equicizer and have your coach identify balance issues or posture problems. You can get a second work out in for the day after your horse is cooled out and put away. You can throw a rope or swing a mallet off your Equicizer until you are confident and ready to do it at a lope on your own horse. The addition of a wooden horse to your barn will allow you to expand your horizons and skill sets in endless ways!

Written by Amanda Chicotel

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