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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The First “Wooden Horse” - The Birth of the Equicizer (Part 2)

Welcome to Equicizer's second Wooden Horse Wednesday blog! In this week’s blog, we’ll continue where we left off last week. After Lovato’s racing injury in 1981 and with his surgeries now behind him, he had a long road to recovery ahead.

Short of getting on real horses, which was out of the question, there was nothing available to help Lovato begin stretching and strengthening the muscles he would need for riding again. Not long before, Lovato had been on top of the racing world as he won the 1980 Eclipse Award for Apprentice Jockey of the nation. Now, a year later, faced with months of rehabilitation in his future, and without a real solution to answer the question of riding, Lovato got to work and built his first wooden horse in 1982.
Frankie & Laffit Pincay photo scan0015.jpg

As he had intended, this wooden horse, which he later named the Equicizer, helped Lovato regain the flexibility and strength he needed to get back to riding. What he didn’t expect, were the requests from fellow riders that began trickling in for one of his “wooden horses”.  His very first customers were Angel Cordero, Jr. and Laffit Pincay, Jr., both legendary jockeys who would go on to use the Equicizer almost religiously as a part of their fitness and training routines. It didn’t stop there however, and the trickle that began with his comeback, turned into a flood as other riders around the country – and then around the world – became aware of Lovato’s wooden horse.  

Doing his best to manage the demand the Equicizer brought while maintaining his riding career, which went on to span 25 years, the market for the Equicizer continued to expand in racing and beyond. In 1990 Lovato made the decision to retire and focus exclusively on building Equicizers, but after a phone call from his financial adviser, he realized his business was not yet at the point where it could sustain him and his family full time. He went back to riding after a short hiatus, putting his wooden horse on the backburner once again.  
My last winner before retirement photo captaincorelli_actionshot.jpg
Frankie's last winner before retirement.

The remainder of the 1990’s saw Lovato building only a handful of Equicizers as he focused on his riding career and as the year 2000 hit, realizing his retirement was not too far off, he decided to forgo the Equicizer business completely to finish out his racing career. Around the same time, Lovato was approached by the producers of the major motion picture “Seabiscuit” which went on to use the Equicizer to train actor Tobey McGuire and in all of the close-up action scenes during the making of the movie.  
Tobey McGuire on an Equicizer

Having been based primarily in New York, where his home and family resided during the duration of his career, Lovato left home and rode the Kentucky-Chicago-New Orleans circuit for the last 4 years of his career, finally hanging up his tack for good in 2004. He returned to his home in New York and two years later, desiring to get out of the city, the Lovato’s packed up all of their belongings and relocated to the small town of Norwalk, Ohio, were Sandy had grown up. They purchased a house in the country about 5 miles from town that had a workshop on the property (which was far more suited to setting up the Equicizer business than his garage turned workshop in New York that he worked out of for years) – and Lovato was finally able to turn his full attention back to his invention, unsure exactly how and where it would take him but ready to give it all he had.
Frank Lovato Jr
New Orleans

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