Why I choose the EquiAmi above any other lungeing aid…
Since being young (a few years ago!!) I always used side reins for lunge work, well to be honest back then it was that or nothing! Not one to want to waste the time I was “training” my horses, I rarely let them loose at the end of the lunge line wearing nothing but a headcollar/cavesson etc as I feel they can do what they like in the field while my time is used elsewhere! So a roller/saddle and side reins were my only option if I couldn’t ride.
Side reins certainly did a great job, and when fitted correctly and the horse is lunged correctly, they still have a valuable place in the training world.
When the Pessoa Training Aid was launched, it immediately caught my eye, especially as to my knowledge there wasn’t any other aid available to encourage the horse to work from behind and over its back as effectively as this claimed to, so off to the tack shop I went and ordered one! Yes it was that new that no one even stocked them!
On its arrival, it looked very complicated! Lots of rope, pulleys, clips and a large sheepskin roll! OK, so, before I go anywhere near a horse, I need to work this thing out! So, laying it out on my front room floor I got a basic idea, and off I went to try this new aid!
Fitting it was a bit fiddly, I remember thinking I needed to be an octopus to keep all the ropes together! However, it didn’t take too long thankfully and my horse was very patient!
Once in the school I had fitted the system loosely as although the instructions came with it, they were a bit vague in how secure it should be, but common sense said obviously not restricting, but not dangerously loose!
After a few adjustments, the horse was working ok, better than in side reins, more engagement and what I thought was good enough for the first time. Experimenting with the different positions it said you can use, higher up for more lift, lower down for more stretch etc, I never found that on any horse the higher settings actually lifted the horses forehand more, to me it meant that the head was brought in and inverted the back, no matter how forward, tight, loose etc it was fitted, and this wasn’t just on one horse, this was several, so for me I used it as a good stretching tool and worked the horses “up” when ridden so it was done correctly.
I used the Pessoa for many years, on many different horses, even having to replace the sheepskin as it wore out with usage, but there was always a niggling feeling that the bit was constantly moving, almost a bit seesaw like, something I am wholly against, but assumed this was normal with this aid, as no matter what tension was on the rope, it moved the bit, on every horse I ever used it on.
This aid served its purpose and I was 90% happy with it (the last 10% was that moving bit!)
Following on from the Pessoa came a variety of different makes, all pretty similar to the Pessoa but nothing gave a different outcome, the bit still moved, the horse was inconsistent to the contact and with some of the cheaper ones, the ropes grew longer after about 3 circles!! Yes I tried them all to compare, but always reverted to the Pessoa.
Then one day I was at a yard and overheard a lady mention an “EquiAmi” and how she found it different, “yeah right” was my initial thought, but curiosity got the better of me and I looked them up, it claimed to be different (so had all the others!) but it caught my attention due to the way it was in different sections, so I borrowed one off a friend to see for myself, that way I could make my own judgment.
Well, to be fair when I opened the little hessian bag it came in, I felt a bit confused as there were many parts, but not one continuous rope as I was used to, but it also had a very comprehensive guide and a DVD so you really couldn’t go wrong!
I attached the EquiAmi as per instructions and off we went, well, the first thing that was glaringly obvious was that the bit didn’t move!! Hurrah, no more seesawing!!! The second thing was that for the first time I was seeing a true consistent connection from the quarters to the forehand, was this a one off, I wasn’t sure, but the horse was working very sweetly, engaged, a true stretch and a highly active hind leg. OK so this is different, that was clear, but was it effective? I needed to use it more than once to be sure, and see other horses work in it too (ones that are trained in the pessoa or likewise) to be sure.
My friend was very obliging and lent me the EquiAmi for a couple of weeks to conduct my experiment.
I used it on a variety of sizes, breeds, temperaments and obviously my own horse, over the course of the two weeks, also reverting back to the pessoa and its counterparts to make a true comparison.
One horse in particular was a live wire when lunged, not badly behaved, just excitable! In the Pessoa he would have a massive yeeehaaa and then run backwards and rear when the bit caught him, something which was inevitable as the rope is attached to the bit, then he would have 5 minutes of not wanting to go forwards, due to said bit, and finally get going, but never taking the contact forward. This horse was tried in the EquiAmi and as always the Yeehaaw came, but interestingly, he didn’t run backwards or rear, now, was this a fluke, or was it the fact that due to the EquiAmi being in separate pieces, the bit didn’t jab him in his mouth and cause pain? Probably! How do we find out? We put him back in the Pessoa the next time and see, yes, exactly the same outcome, run backwards and rear. This experiment was done 3 times and each time the only time he was relaxed and worked softly and engaged consistently was in the EquiAmi.
In the space of 2 weeks all the horses I worked with were happier, relaxed and consistent when working in the EquiAmi, even the respective owners all agreed, it wasn’t just me who saw this change.
I wasn’t selling this product to anyone, but once the owners of the horses I borrowed for my experiment had seen the outcome, they all went out and purchased them (not from me), there was absolutely no financial gain for me in this, just to be clear! I simply needed to satisfy my own curiosity.
I did however order my own, and from the end of the 2 week trial, I never ever used the Pessoa on another horse, it was put to the back of the tack room cupboard and gathered dust.
Since using the EquiAmi I can vouch for the fact that it has been an invaluable part of my training plan with Rocky, who has worn this since being started, and his topline strength is far superior to many other horses of his age and stage of training, thanks to the EqiuiAmi helping him start off correctly.
I now use the EquiAmi at least once per week on Rocky, and am asked to demonstrate it on many client’s horses, all of who are very happy with the results.
One client has just purchased one for her horse with Kissing Spines and so far the vets are very very happy with her progress, so it is not just for training, the EquiAmi is proving an essential part of rehab too! My own Physio now recommends the EquiAmi to all her clients after seeing me using it and the difference it made to the horses I worked with.
Of course there is always something to consider, the aid isn't there to do all the work for you, to ensure the best results are acheived, the horse must be correctly lunged!
Rocky showing the freedom to able to let off steam, and then how he works confidently into the consistent contact.
Here is a video of Rocky working on the Equiami:
Cledlyn Rocky on the EquiAmi from Sharon Kilminster on Vimeo.