Compression technology has proven highly beneficial for athletes when it comes to improving performance and aiding recovery, but an often over-looked benefit is its ability to ease anxiety and promote calm and focus. As holistic care of equestrian athletes becomes more prevalent, so the use of compression products - such as hoods - have become more popular, helping horses to cope and perform better. We explored this further to find out how!
Desireé de Andrade, a lawyer by trade but avid race-horse owner and natural equine healer by ‘passion’, was first introduced to the concept of compression hoods when race-horse trainer Diane Stenger recommended the use of one for one of her horses who refused to load in the starting stalls due to anxiety. Without success in finding a local manufacturer, Desireé contacted Hidez in Australia, a family owned and run business who produce a range of compression products for horses and dogs – and a few weeks later, Iced Tea, her highly-strung Thoroughbred, proved its efficacy as she walked straight into the starting gates undeterred.
The compression hoods work on the basis of applying the right amount of pressure to the poll axis and Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which releases endorphins – encouraging horses to relax through the poll and jaw and subsequently helping to reduce anxiety and increase focus. The innovative, graduated compression also helps to promote healing and has shown amazing results for aiding recovery in horses suffering with head or jaw pain and stiffness.
The hoods are made from a moisture management fabric which are easy to fit and can be worn for up to 9 hours consecutively. Whilst horses with neurological issues have seen benefit from wearing the hood for extended periods of time – some of whom have shown up to an 80% reduction in head shaking, weaving and/or crib biting – others have seen great benefit from even a short periods of time, such as 20 to 30 minutes before loading, helping them to relax and ease nervousness.
The compression hoods are legal and permitted in horse racing – showing great benefit for anxious horses who have trouble loading as well as those who tend to over-exert themselves in the early stages of the race – and are also permitted in show jumping under FEI Rulings. Considering the hood is completely therapeutic, doesn’t cause any interference with equipment and in fact helps to increase poll flexion, Desireé is hopeful that the other equestrian disciplines – particularly eventing and dressage – will see the benefits and legalise use in competition in future.
Areas of benefit from use of compression hoods:
1. Travel /Loading – particularly for poor loaders who get anxious or uptight
2. Stable Vices - including improving and overcoming weaving and crib biting
3. Competition – helping to overcome show or race -day nerves with many horses being able to cope better under what was previously stressful circumstances
4. Training – for all other disciplines currently as well as for use on ponies to encourage relaxation to the benefit of new or young riders
5. Recovery – from pain or injury including dental issues and relief for chronic TMJ soreness. Horse owners have also experienced speedier recover of lacerations or head wounds, by covering the wound and using the compression hood to improve circulation at the injury site and promote healing.
With progressively more trainers, owners and riders seeing the benefits of the hoods and more and more orders being placed, Desireé was offered distribution rights for Hidez in South Africa and neighbouring countries in 2020 – an opportunity she grabbed with both hands – and the rest, as they say, is history. Mogul Equine is the official distributor of equine and canine Hidez products in SA including the compression hoods, full equine suits, compression socks as well as a range of ice compression socks – all of which have all been ergonomically designed for maximum comfort and benefit.
The hoods are available with or without ear covers (for sound sensitive horses), in various colours and sizes (from miniatures and shetlands through to ponies and horses). Custom colours and patterns can be ordered and Mogul Equine will be happy to assist with design, but the hoods will obviously need to be manufactured and imported.
CLICK HERE to shop online.
From a sizing perspective, prospective buyers can email or whatsapp photos of their horse or pony (front and side profile) to Desireé and she’ll be able to recommend the suitable size for optimal fit.
Desireé de Andrade