I first reached out to Chris (founder of Home Horse) with an article idea for pregnancy and post-partum recovery (that article is coming in another couple of months). After a ton of phone calls and email, a Home Horse was on its way to me (two actually). Thank you Chris for agreeing to the trial. I waited with excitement as it disappeared somewhere in Nevada…but it showed up a week later than expected (whoooh…having items this expensive disappearing in the post is stressful!). When they arrived I heard them…I heard the FedEx guy grunting and groaning, some loud bangs and I realized that he needed some help. These things are NOT lightweight. We worked together (while I was quite pregnant) to move these beasts into my apartment with some clever maneuvering and use of the landscape. No wonder they cost so much to ship!
Each Home Horse has a large base, a wood disk cover for the top of the base, two steel posts and the seat. There are also a number of accessories including rein attachments, pads, foot rests, and a crop. It took a little while and some help to put it together, not because it’s difficult to put together (quite easy in fact), it just weighed too much for my pregnant self to handle alone.
What made it so heavy? It just looks like wood and steel right? The steel can’t be that heavy? It’s not. What’s heavy is the base. What makes up the convex base is what makes the whole thing work – a giant solid mass of heavy duty rubber. Why? It keeps the base solid on the ground and you won’t tip over on the thing. It’s a safety feature, helps make the balancing more effective and protects your flooring.
The Home Horse is a clever bit of engineering. It is built with incredible quality (even the welds on the steel are beautiful), and the hand written patent info and Home Horse number on the seat is evidence to the attention paid to each one by Chris (he makes them himself). Each Home Horse that leaves his shop has a dedicated item number. This is truly a work of art as well as a fitness device (which when you find out he’s a fine artist, you totally understand). As for it’s beauty, it looks amazing in my living room and EVERYONE that comes in asks me about it. Most (even non-horse people) ask if they can try it when I explain it to them.
The Home Horse is intriguing to everyone. I took it with me to one of my baby showers, and it ended up becoming a bit of a shower game, with everyone wanting to try it out. It was very cool to watch everyone try it and see where everyone had a weak or sticky point that kept them from being perfectly balanced and even. That second Home Horse ended up staying at my hosts home and she purchased it for herself. If you try the Home Horse and have the disposable income to buy it…you’ll end up buying it. It’s just that good. I’ve had a number of friends ask to borrow it, but I’ve been selfish with it and haven’t let it out of my home because it’s been so helpful during my pregnancy and postpartum recovery. I may start letting people borrow it in a few months…maybe.
The rein attachment is a fantastic item that I think is absolutely a must have for this. It shows you exactly how much you want to use the reins for balance! There is no balancing on these reins because of the design, so it forces you to hold the reins/contact without being able to rely on it to stay upright. Clever!
As for the performance of the Home Horse…well…it did everything it said it would and more. I used it regularly before the baby was born several times a week and it became clearer week by week where my balance was changing and what was becoming too loose or too stiff. I rode until 37 weeks (or maybe 38…I can’t remember), but the Home Horse was excellent at telling me at each stage when I needed to stop pushing and back off a bit. At the end, all I could manage was walking and a tiny bit of canter, but listening to my body because of Home Horse helped me make the right decisions for me.
Postpartum, I got back on the Home Horse about a week after birth “just to see” if I could ride again (I was feeling a bit stir crazy and tired of laying around). Home Horse quickly told me I was insane, so I gave it another few days and tried again. Not so bad that time, so I went and rode my horse. I didn’t listen to my body and rode twice that week (two weeks after having Derby) and paid for it. I took the next week and a half off riding with several “rides” a week on the Home Horse to test my balance, soreness, and general fitness. I was back riding again at the end of 4 weeks (lots of walk/canter including a lot of canter pirouette work and some lateral work and started back up in lessons). By the 5th week I added single changes and lots of sitting trot and lots more lateral work. By the 6th week I started adding in medium canters and tempi changes. 8th Week – extended trot, canter, and finally posting trot (without peeing myself).
Each week has gotten progressively better. By practicing on the Home Horse at home, as well as the riding, I’ve been able to get back to almost normal in just a handful of weeks. I’m considering a show in August (I’d consider July if I thought I could fit in my show clothes this month…but that’s not happening).
In another week and a half I have my first clinic ride in quite a long time.
I know the price is quite high for many of us (I never would have been able to afford it at the time I was given one to try out), however I think it’s absolutely worth the price Chris asks in terms of workmanship and quality and performance. Each Home Horse also comes with a lifetime guarantee (Chris’s lifetime that is since he IS Home Horse). Most importantly, the Home Horse never goes lame. You never have to worry about bad weather. You never have to worry about drilling the horse too much on one thing just so you can fix yourself. When you think about it that way, it’s a lot cheaper than an actual horse…and a lot cheaper than a few months worth of lessons.
If you want to learn more, talk to Chris about customizing one (he can make the base more or less difficult to balance on) or if it’s right for you, or purchase a Home Horse, you can visit their website. If you’re local to me in the SF Bay Area and want to try it out, send me a message. I’m happy to come to your barn and give a demo to you and your fellow riders there!