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Product Review: Hidez Equine Compression Suit

These are much more than just fancy pony pajamas.

So, funny story. While at World Cup this past year with some clients, we happened to stumble upon the Hidez booth and its fiberglass horse model wearing what appeared to be a horse onesie in American flag print. Cue immediate laughter and a lively discussion, some of which may not have been entirely PG, involving the logistics of cramming one of the 17.2 hand warmbloods into spandex.

I mean for real? Can you picture trying to wrestle anything but the most docile of Quarter horses into this getup? Photo (c) Morgane S. Gabriel

Our somewhat less than subtle banter caught the attention of the Hidez representative who, while amused, decided he should probably educate us on what we were actually looking at.

I’m not going to lie, I was pretty skeptical about the efficacy of putting my horse in a sausage casing, but thought it couldn’t hurt to listen.

Essentially, the idea behind Hidez Compression Gear is that it increases blood flow which helps muscles by delivering oxygen and the fuel they need to properly perform. This helps not only with the performance itself, but also the recovery period as the suit helps drive lactic acid out of the muscles, decreasing soreness. While that’s helpful for any equine athlete, it is especially useful for horses prone to tying-up. And because the suit promotes blood flow, it’s also helpful in the healing of injuries. You can read more about the process here.

Additionally, compression therapy is also said to promote a calming effect which can be super helpful for horses with performance anxiety issues. This would be in line with Temple Grandin’s research and her invention of the ‘hug box’ to help calm those on the autism spectrum (she then applied these theories to livestock). Thundershirts for dogs are another example of compression therapy for anxiety.

As we listened to his explanations and the results of the case studies they’d done, I found myself getting sucked in; clearly my spoiled rotten horses *NEED* these majikal suits to perform their best. WHERE IS MY WALLET?!

Fortunately, one of my more even keeled clients started asking the intelligent questions:

1. Is it hot?
We were told the suit is heat neutral, meaning it doesn’t make the horse hot and can even help with cooling.

2. How hard is it to put on?
He admitted that the first time is a bit of a nightmare, but it gets easier, and he’s never had a horse he couldn’t get it on (safely).

3. When should they wear it?
The suit can be worn before working to help the horse’s muscles and mind relax as well as be used post workout to help with recovery. It was suggested that it could be left on overnight to help the horse with both recovery from the day’s work and in preparation for the next day’s performance. For similar reasons, and because it’s heat neutral, it’s also recommended for shipping.

4. What results do we expect to see?
Ideally a more through, supple, and relaxed horse.

His answers all seemed in line with exactly what we’d want but, as I let my rational brain kick in again, I was still a little skeptical that I could convince The Beastlet that he should let me put him in this. The representative was sure this wouldn’t be an issue, so sure, in fact, that he let me do a trial.

So here’s what I found:

1. Is it hot?
I was pretty surprised to say that my horses were not sweaty or any hotter when wearing the suit. It’s been blistering out here this summer but I did not have any issues with them being uncomfortable while wearing it. I only trailered in it once, a bit earlier in the spring, but I saw no issues then either. As with anything though, I think common sense is important here: if it’s 103 degrees outside you probably want to rethink trailering period, but especially while your horse is wearing something.

2. How hard is it to put on?
He was so right. This was a total cluster the first time for The Beastlet. It literally took four of us to get it done. Even still, the entire ordeal was under 10 minutes and the subsequent times were faster and accomplished with two people, and finally just myself. The trick, really, is knowing what you’re supposed to zip to what. There is a video on their site that explains this. I imagine had I watched it first it would have been a less painful experience. When I put The Paintlet in his suit, after I’d learned from Wilson here, I did it by myself and it literally took just a few minutes. The same held true for The Little Black Dragon mare I tested it on.

How many people does it take to cram a 17+ hh warmblood into a bodysuit? Photo (c) Morgane Schmidt Gabriel

3. When should they wear it?
On The Beastlet and Paintlet, I experimented using it for a few hours before my rides as well as a few after. I also trailered The Paintlet in it and had the Little Black Dragon wear it all day at her first show.

4. What results do we expect to see?
With all of the horses I felt like they moved a bit more fluidly (though I saw the biggest difference in that with The Paintlet). The Beastlet has a tendency to stock up at shows from being huge and confined to a smaller stall. I noticed with him that he did have less fluid accumulation after wearing the suit. As his suit fit the most snug though, I was a little concerned about leaving him in it unsupervised overnight, though now that he’s worn it multiple times with no issues I think that’s my next step.

 

The Beastlet hoping he will get a cookie as a reward for his patience and sausage imitation. Photo (c) Morgane S. Gabriel

The Paintlet had a noticeable difference both mentally and physically. As I’ve revealed in other posts, he is a delicate, sensitive flower (who also destroys almost everything, go figure). He can be quite body tense and his overwhelming desire to DO ALL THE THINGS makes him a somewhat mentally tight guy as well, particularly at shows. After having him wear the suit for a few hours before our ride, he came out infinitely more relaxed and noticeably more through. I was pretty surprised and happy with that.

The Paintlet *loving* how he can’t get as dirty as he’d like. Photo (c) Morgane S. Gabriel

The Paintlet in his I-1 test. Photo (c) Michele Ting

The Little Black Dragon is an insanely talented, beautiful mare owned by a client of mine. She’s also young and has her own ideas about the world. When she gets tense she shares those ideas more forcefully than I’d like. We recently took her to her first show and I decided to use the Hidez suit on her. While she was still a young horse at her first show, she was a good deal quieter and more relaxed after having worn the suit during the day, before her afternoon ride. I did not use the suit the following day and there was a noticeable difference.

The Little Black Dragon being lovely. Photo (c) Michele Ting.

After trying the Hidez suit on three different horses, some over the course of three different shows, I am pretty convinced that there’s something to them! And my initial complaint about actually getting the suit on the horse pretty much became a nonissue after that first go at it.

Given my experience, where each horse had a different issues and each time I saw a difference for the better when using the suit, I would certainly recommend it to someone looking for a way to give their horse a bit of a performance edge. As with most therapies, I imagine that some horses would find more benefit from the suit than others, but because it is easy enough to use, requires no batteries, has no electronics to break, and doesn’t require that you babysit them the entire time while using it, I think it’s certainly worth looking into.

For my review I tested the travel/recovery suit which appears to be the more all purpose one. They also make an Active Suit which the horse can be ridden in, as well as compression socks, compression socks with pockets for ice, and hoods and masks to promote relaxation and focus. Most of these items can be purchased in standard colors or fully customized in your barn colors, patterns, or with sponsor logos. And as a final fun fact, they also make these suits for dogs, racing greyhounds, and racing camels. No joke…

I bet you didn’t even know that you needed this in your life? Photo (c) Hidez.Au


For more information on Hidez or to read some of the science behind it (which goes beyond my anecdotal evidence), visit the their website. Their FAQ page on their Australian site also has some great info. Check out their Facebook Page too for additional updates and photos.

 

Go Riding!

Morgane Schmidt Gabriel is a 33-year-old teacher/artist/dressage trainer/show announcer/ who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. A native Floridian, she now lives in Reno, NV, where she’s been able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless. Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She was recently able to complete her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently working on her gold. Generally speaking her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, a now 7-year-old Dutch gelding, and Stormy, her friend’s nearly all white paint gelding with a penchant for finding every mud hole and pee spot in existence. Visit her website at www.theideaoforder.com.

SVE 15 For Willie 4002

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