I am a huge fan of massage therapy devices, but the one I have been using has a fatal flaw – the plastic material it is made from means the horses end up horribly sweaty under it. They are white with sweat if they travel with it on, and even on a cool sunny day in March, stood in the yard in the sun without a rug, this is the sweat patch which was left. Not ideal.
I was testing this on a horse that has been operated on for kissing spines, and who the vet and physio recommended had massage therapy before work. I don’t want to turn up so early for lessons that I can put the massage pad on for half an hour, I want to travel with it on. However, I don’t want the horse getting sweaty then the back getting chilled as a result before work starts.
Enter the Sportzvibe Rug from Horseware. Built on the same technology as their ice vibe boots (which I have and love), this is a cotton summer sheet with several slots in it for the massage bars, several pockets for the battery pack, and a detachable neck cover which also has slots for massage bars. It all comes in a handy rucksack. The rug is sold with 4 massage bars and one battery pack, along with a plethora of charging options.
I was sent a Medium rug, which is for 6’0″-6’6″, and was trialling it on a 15.1. I had two massage bars along either side of the back and two more across the rump. The horse in question normally takes a 6’3″ rug, and the Medium fitted perfectly, with plenty of room to make it fit perfectly.
The rug is very adjustable, and it’s really easy to move the massage bars around. The bars sat exactly where I needed them to be, especially the ones along the back. I started off using the rug in the yard before work. It provided the same benefits as the existing pad I was using, and I do like the choice of settings (there are two levels of vibration). Because it’s on a timer, and a session lasts for 20 minutes, it’s perfect to put on the horse whilst you muck out (or poo pick in the summer), and then you can get straight on and tack up. No wasted time!
Just so you can see the sizing difference, I’ve included a picture of the same horse in a Large rug – the rugs are very adjustable, so even though it was too big, I could still use it fine. I couldn’t travel the horse in it with the massage bars along the rump though, because they stuck out an inch or so and I worried about them getting damaged, so I put them on the shoulders instead. The Medium is definitely the most versatile size though, unless you have enormous horses.
The acid test was the traveling. I put the rug on before we set off, and half an hour into the journey picked up a friend. Two horses in the back would usually mean one very sweaty horse on arrival under the pad, but the Sportzvibe rug lived up to all my expectations. We arrived to find a cool, dry horse, nicely massaged and ready to go. Perfect!
I have three minor niggles:
- I want to be able to buy the rug itself (no electronic wizardry) separately. It is just a thin summer sheet, so I know at some point it will get caught on something and rip. It’s inevitable. It’ll probably be the inside of my washing machine if past history is any guide. For £350, I’d like to be able to replace the rug part if needs be. I also use this daily, and I’d like to have a spare for when one is in the wash, especially in the winter when there is mud everywhere!
- The charging lead is inexplicably short, which means I have to balance the battery pack on the plug whilst I’m charging it, otherwise it dangles in the air. This is precarious and fraught with the possibility of the battery falling and getting damaged.
- The pockets for the shoulder massage bars are too long, which means they sometimes come unplugged from the battery pack. It’s easily solved by putting in a stitch at the bottom of the pocket, but I didn’t really think I should have to do this myself! The pockets either need to be shorter or the leads from the battery pack longer, as I had to reattach them every time I put the rug on.
None of these issues is enough to put me off – I only wish Horseware would come up with human wraps to put my ice vibe inserts in too, as after contact sport my shoulders would be exceedingly grateful! This rug is an essential bit of kit as far as I’m concerned, and I can’t praise it highly enough. The fact that you can remove the electronics to wash it is an added bonus, as it meant I didn’t worry about chucking it on a less than well groomed horse! If you’re wondering which massage device to buy, you really can’t get better for your money than this rug.