If you spend any time on the show circuit as a rider, groom, or spectator, you are no doubt familiar with the now-ubiquitous EquiFit logo, stamped in black and white across everything from open front boots and girths to wound care and stable products.
In the last 17 years, EquiFit has become to the equestrian world what Nike is to golf and basketball, not to mention the first choice of top-ranked riders including McLain Ward, Margie Engle, and Kent Farrington. And like Nike and many of the riders EquiFit represents, the brand, itself, is a uniquely American success story.
“My first love has always been creating products for the horses, themselves,” says EquiFit Founder and amateur rider, Alexandra Cherubini.
Alexandra Cherubini & Cashgirl 5 LGCT Miami.
“I guess it all started with falling in love with horses when I was 12. My best friend at the time rode, and brought me to the barn. I got on a horse and fell in love, and that was sort of it. It gets in your blood, right? It won’t go away—it’s like a drug.”
Alexandra grew up riding and went on to attend Bates College before moving to New York City to begin a career in public relations. Though she didn’t know it at the time, that PR experience would become fertile training ground for a future in product development. Also key: Cherubini’s experience in the family business—her parents have owned and operated a medical supply company for more than 45 years. “I grew up with different materials around me, as far as [product] development, and that was always interesting to me,” Alexandra says.
One ordinary day in New York, these connections suddenly began to paint a clearer picture for the would-be entrepreneur. “As I was walking down the street, a light bulb went off, and I decided that I should explore combining my love of horses with my family background in product development,” Alexandra says.
Kent Farrington & Uceko in EquiFit. (c) EquiFit
That decision sparked the launch of EquiFit’s first creation, ShouldersBack; a back brace designed in consultation with orthopedic specialists to help riders and other athletes improve their posture and strengthen their muscles. “I was still living in New York, in our first apartment in Brooklyn, and I was doing everything from cold calling and taking orders to cutting up the packaging with my now-husband, who was going to FedEx for me everyday,” Alexandra says
“[One day] I got a phone call from the curator at the [Metropolitan Museum of Art] in New York, who wanted to include ShouldersBack in a show called Extreme Beauty. Then an editor from W magazine called and included it in [a story]… it was even featured on the Home Shopping Network.
“We just got a ton of press, and it was fun, because it definitely wasn’t a path I thought it would take. It combined a little bit of coming from the PR world and living in New York, all those things collided,” says Alexandra.
The success of ShouldersBack put EquiFit on the map, and over the next decade, the brand expanded full-tilt into the equestrian market, shifting focus to items that support the horse and rider and their team before, during, and after competition.
In addition to their hugely popular front and hind boots, EquiFit also manufacturers a curb chain cover for bridles to use in place of the typical, makeshift vet wrap; a wall bag with pockets to store front and hind boots; and detachable boot and girth liners that make laundry days a breeze. They’re the kind of products that solve the real-world problems that horse professionals deal with every day—and that’s no coincidence.
Alexandra Cherubini (c) The Book LLC
As a jumper rider competing in the amateur-owner divisions, Alexandra spends the majority of her year on the show circuit alongside her horses, EquiFit Carlos, EquiFit Cayenne, and Cashgirl 5. It’s time and experience that she uses—along with that of her frequently on-the-road staff, sponsored riders, and friendly network of grooms, managers, and professionals—as a kind of unofficial market research
“Some of the product [ideas] come from us spending time at horse shows and having conversations with people where they’re presenting issues,” Alexandra says. “We’ve also had products, for example, the T-Sport [polo] wraps, [which] people were using as a tail wrap, so we started marketing and selling it that way.” In another instance, after a number of their clients began customizing their black and white EquiFit boots to make them all black for use in the equitation ring, the brand designed and released the Eq-Teq model specifically for that purpose
But it’s the rare new release that requires such a simple solution, and as Alexandra notes, the product development world comes equipped with its fair share of hurdles. “Sometimes, it’s easy to adapt a product that we currently have, and sometimes, we need to go to the drawing board and try to come up with a solution,” she explains. “If we’re lucky, it can be eight months to get a new product on the market. But I would say, most of the time, it can be a year, two years, three years…”
(c) The Book LLC/Courtesy of EquiFit.
One recent addition to EquiFit that Cherubini is particularly excited about is the brand’s new Essential collection, a line of accessible, everyday products that offer the same EquiFit quality and attention to detail (think: schooling girths with removable, cruelty-free SheepsWool for washing and square pads lined with slip-resistant flannel) at a lower price point. It is all part of the brand’s drive to create products by horsemen, for horsemen everywhere—a value that is at the core of EquiFit’s ethos.
“We put so much time, energy, and heart into all of the products,” Alexandra says, “I would say, really, every product we put out the door, we’re excited to see it leave us.”