When you aren’t able to ride your real horse, the Home Horse can help you get back into shape from the comfort (and safety) of your home. It’s exactly what you need when you’re recovering from an injury or can’t get to the barn for awhile, or you want to have a bit of fun while watching TV or listening to music.
It’s been almost nine weeks since I broke my ankle. Nine long weeks of not being able to ride. In theory, I’m two weeks away from being cleared to do all activities. In practice, while my bone may be healing, my ankle is still weak and sore. I’ve been able to step down from my Aircast to a brace, but I still feel a bit wobbly. Seven weeks of inactivity does a real number on muscle tone and my left leg has a lot of catching up to do. I don’t even want to think about the loss of core strength. I’ve been having a pro give Zelda some tune up rides so that she will be ready for me. But, will I be ready for her?
Enter the Home Horse
The Home Horse is an innovative fitness tool that simulates the movement of riding a horse. It combines patterned co-contractions of core muscles, pelvic floor, abdominals and obliques, with balancing and stretching, especially the hip abductors that directly translate to enhanced balance and core strength as well as posture. It’s the closest you can get to riding a horse in your living room. Plus, it’s quite elegant.
The Home Horse is the brain child of Chris Cosma, who is both an equestrian and a sculptor (which is why the Home Horse is so nice to look at). Cosma came up with the idea as a way to help his children get “legged up” before visits to his family’s show barn in Ohio. He and his family live in Brooklyn, NY, where it’s not so easy to find a place to ride. The Home Horse prototypes gave them time in the saddle which made it easier for them to enjoy riding actual horses without as much ramp up time.
Eventually, Cosma mounted the a wooden horse back shape onto an office chair post and used it as a stool when working in his studio. After a few days, he felt his core strength improve, and he realized the potential to create a fitness tool — not just for equestrians, but for anyone who wants to fix problems with sciatica, stretch their hip flexors, or improve their balance. The result is an exerciser that can help any person who needs a no impact work out. Some riding programs also use the HH as a way to warm up before riding and some therapeutic programs are using them to help riders get used to the motion of riding horses or for students who might be too large for the horses in their programs.
What makes the Home Horse so effective?
It’s the pattered co-contractions that build symmetry, the ability to stretch and strengthen the inner thigh adductors, the abdominals, the obliques, the hip abductors, pelvic floor muscles, to lift the diaphragm up and get the shoulders over the hips, supple lower back, and develop a balanced secure seat. Oh and to have fun without it seeming like the dreaded word: EXERCISE. You can work on things you need to fix on yourself and do them over and over and over and not risk wearing out your horse (or teaching them bad habits). This helps build correct muscle memory for when you’re riding a real horse. It also helps to build your strength and stamina for riding so you can better support your horse.Chris Cosma
What’s it Like?
The first time I mounted up on the Home Horse, I wondered if I should have worn my helmet because I worried I might tumble right off. Just as well that I followed the instructions, which tell you to use a spotter the first time you get on, and also set the height lower than you might want it once you’re used to the motion.
To mount your Home Horse it is important to have someone stand in front of the HH to actively spot you and hold it and you steady as you attempt to mount. he rider should stand on the left edge of the platform with the left foot and hold it down to the floor, hold the hand cut out (the front of the HH) with your left hand and if needed also your right hand, lift your right leg over the HH back and sit in the deepest part of the saddle and find your balance, don’t worry it will not tip over! Hold the hands of your spotter and sit so that your seat bones are in contact with the saddle and you are sitting upright and balanced on both seat bones evenly. Avoid sitting on your tailbone since this will make balancing impossible. When you are mounted and comfortably balanced you can release your hands from your spotter for the moment.
It definitely gets easier. And quickly you figure out the range of motion and can rest easy that the HH will not toss you over the non-existent head. My daughter and her boyfriend tried it too, and we all had a good laugh over how much harder it is than you would expect. But it’s also fun.
One of the key benefits for me right now is increasing my symmetry. Chris explained that most adult riders do not stand evenly — we all put more weight on one side of our bodies. You can easily test this by standing on two scales. I was shocked when I saw this, but not surprised. After all, for the past 8 1/2 weeks, I’ve been trying NOT to be weight bearing on my left leg. Obviously, I need to be more symmetrical before I get back on Zelda as I don’t think she’ll appreciate how lopsided I’ve become.
The HH comes with a pad to put over the wooden frame, but I prefer using it with a saddle. Since Freedom is now retired in Virginia, I’m using his saddle. It makes me feel a little closer to him every time I climb on, although he was a lot less predictable than the HH.
Ready to try it?
The Home Horse experience is something you need to see and try for yourself. For anyone who is planning to attend Equine Affaire 2021 (November 11-14th in West Springfield, Mass.), Chris will have a booth and is going to give demonstrations and lessons on how to get the most out of the HH. I’m planning to stop by and get some tips. I hope to see you there too.