Community gathers to meet FENCE’s Rusty the Equicizer

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Therapeutic Riding of Tryon celebrates its newest addition

TRYON — “Do you know someone who could benefit from working with Rusty?” asked Program Director for Therapeutic Riding of Tryon, Allison Rhyne. “We want to make Rusty available to the community when TROT is not in session.”

Rhyne spoke to a crowd gathered at Foothills Nature Equestrian Center last Thursday for a reception to introduce “Rusty,” TROT’s new mechanical Equicizer horse. The Equicizer is a nonelectrical, mechanical model horse, invented by jockey Frankie Lovato for rehabilitation after a severe racing injury.

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Rhyne said these mechanical horses have become very popular with therapeutic riding programs for several reasons.

“They are great for students who need to build strength and balance,” she said. “They are great for teaching mounting and emergency dismounts.”

Physical Therapist Dan LaPlace gives the new TROT Equicizer a try during the reception at FENCE on Thursday. (Photo by Catherine Hunter/Tryon Daily Bulletin)

Rhyne said the mechanical horse is also a wonderful tool for someone who is very afraid of horses. TROT uses Rusty for students who have severe limitations, for rainy day classes and for stretching and warm up during the class.

The Equicizer is very different from the equine simulator at the Tryon International Equestrian Center. The simulator is electrical, whereas Rusty is not. Rusty’s riders use their core muscles to move the Equicizer, gaining an excellent core-strengthening workout.

Physical therapist and TROT volunteer Carolyn Cadier said the mechanical horse was an excellent tool for someone who has severe physical challenges, such as standing up or sitting down.

“It’s good for those with core or pelvic weaknesses,” she said.

One purpose for the reception was to gather feedback from the community about how the Equicizer could be used outside of TROT’s regular sessions, Rhyne said.

In addition to asking about other who could benefit from using the mechanical horse, Rhyne asked if anyone would be interested in using it when TROT is not in session, if FENCE is a convenient location for the Equicizer to be housed, if making it available as a rental made sense and if there was enough interest in the community to support ordering another.

“How about birthday parties?” asked a crowd member.

Rhyne asked those attending and members of the community to send their feedback about the Equicizer and its potential uses to TROT. Comments to Rhyne’s questions about how the Equicizer can best serve the community beyond TROT sessions can be sent to Rhyne at

For more information about Rusty and TROT, people may visit or call 828-859-9021.