One of the most important things to remember as a horse owner is that every horse is an individual. Not every owner/rider has the ability to ride like Charlotte Dujardin or train their horses like Jenku; we all need some help from time to time, and likewise, most horses will need some help at some point in their careers.
BungeeBand™ was developed to help one of my own horses; throughout my life I have owned many types of horses and ponies, from ex-racing TBs to GP trained Warmbloods. I’ve never owned one as unbalanced as Charles (and Irish Cob), and no matter what I tried, he would fall over cantering on the lunge or under saddle nearly every session! Obviously after all the normal veterinary checks, I started experimenting with various training aids with the goal of increasing his proprioception.
Proprioception is a word that Physiotherapists love. It basically means awareness of position and placement of the body. Those who have suffered nerve damage or trauma often struggle to know where and how to place their limbs. Sometimes it is just how we are made; with humans, some have better hand-eye coordination and reflexes than others.
The same is true in horses; you have some that can react and balance in the hardest scenarios, and others that trip over their own feet.
The fact is that some horses DO need the support and help from training aids at points in their training, and whilst it is easy for others to judge those that recognise this, it is the brave and knowledgeable horse owner who can admit either they, or their horse (often both) need a helping hand.
One thing that is very important is that at no point do we interfere with the horse’s forward movement. I did not want to restrict the head or neck in any way as BungeeBand™ is purely a tool for them to learn to balance for themselves; this is always the end goal – it is there for support and encouragement which allows the horse to find their own balance and become more aware of the muscle groups that should be engaged to maintain that balance.
It is not a training aid that should be used every time you ride or lunge for the rest of your horse’s life, simply a stepping stone to help them to the next level or as support when rehabbing from injury.
It is imperative that we never forget horses were not designed as a method of transport or leisure, but as a grazing animal, that only ever had to run fast and in a straight line to get away from danger. It is not natural for them to canter small circles or jump big fences. All horses are built heavier in the front – 60% of their bodyweight is head, neck and shoulders. Every horse is naturally heavy on its forehand when ridden, and only through training do we teach engagement from the hind leg and attempt to even out that weight distribution. As previously mentioned, some find this easier than others.
As a Veterinary Physiotherapist I often recommend my clients use as many tools in their kit as possible; these range from ridden exercises (transitions and lateral work) to encourage the hind leg and brain to work together, to the landscape surrounding them (hill-work if you live anywhere but East Anglia) or a water treadmill if you are lucky enough to have one locally.
Never be afraid to think outside the box a little, but always ask a qualified professional (not Karen on Facebook) before trying something new.
BungeeBand™ is only sold directly from Performance Veterinary Physiotherapy, we have no agents or retailers, which enables us to offer full support to all our customers if required. It was designed over five years of research with gait analysis on a variety of equines, and launched in 2015 as a product that anyone can use. We do recommend veterinary or therapist (EMT/Vet Physio/Osteopath/Chiropractor) assistance if using it for rehabilitation purposes, but for those horses needing to learn to stretch of use correct muscle groups, it comes with instructions on fit and use to get you started. As with all successful products, there are many cheap and substandard copies out there, often made incorrectly and/or with inferior materials. It may look ok initially, but scrutinise the position and angles of the clips, the material of the bands and ask what knowledge the seller has of anatomy and physiology. Some of the worst copies out there could potentially cause significant damage to your horse with incorrect position and tension of bands.
The most typical comment I get is ‘a tail bandage does the same thing’. Unfortunately this is not true and if used over a period of time, can actually cause more issues, let alone the dangers involved in tying a piece of fabric with a high-breaking strain around your much-loved and precious horse. The elastic fibres in a tail bandage simply stretch (eventually snapping) and offer no rebound effect whatsoever. If there is an initial increase in stride length, this is purely a proprioceptive effect (the horse attempts to move away from the stimulation on their skin) but the support and energy transfer of a made for purpose band is not replicated.
BungeeBand™ is a versatile aid that can be used in hand, when lunging or under saddle. Many professional riders promote its use under saddle amongst their clients, especially with younger or inexperienced and unbalanced horses. Its efficacy is further increased when combined with lateral work, pole work or transitions. Under saddle, horses often become lighter in the hand, engaging their abdominal and gluteal muscles, which in turn lengthens the muscles over the back and creates a more desirable and effective posture, hopefully reducing the likelihood of injury and increasing career longevity.
This action of lengthening along the Latissimus dorsi and Longissimus muscles is one of the reasons so many vets are recommending the use of BungeeBand™ as part of the rehabilitation following Kissing Spine diagnosis. The engagement of the abdominals and subsequent lifting of the spinal column can help to maintain space between spinous processes and build muscle to encourage improved posture and protect the spinous ligaments going forwards.
BungeeBand™ is now a global brand, used in all disciplines and scenarios; from happy hackers to international competition horses, polo ponies to Icelandic’s learning to Tolt; it is popular in the pre-training of racehorses and the rehabilitation of injured horses. Recommended by Vets and therapists, as well as many professional riders. As a company born from a passion to help horses, and their owners, I take immense pride in what BungeeBand™ has achieved worldwide; my aim was always to provide an affordable product, accessible and user friendly to all, whilst never compromising on quality or the care we have for each individual customer. The end goal is always for the horse to no longer need our help; I liken this to learning to ride a bike; you start with stabilisers and once you have learnt to balance, they can be removed.
For more information and details :