If you stop and think about it there is very little in our world today that hasn’t been changed in some way by the advancement of technology. Taking a long ride in the country or on a beautiful trail through the forest on your favourite horse may seem like a low-tech type of activity, but it really doesn’t have to be. The technically savvy equestrian can look forward to riding toward a new frontier of equine gadgets.
In fact, there are several fun, interesting and efficient ways that technology can make riding safer and more enjoyable. Some are still in the early stages of development while others are already on the market if you just know where to look.
To get started, let’s take a closer look at some updates to traditional equipment and supplies that are improved by technology. Of course, there is nothing wrong with staying with the tried and true options, but it is always nice to know if there may be other possibilities.
Beyond Tracking Halters
There are a few different companies experimenting in the market of “smart halters” and “smart collars” for horses. One such option is the Nightwatch™ halter and collar that is marketed by Protequus. This will be first on the market, and it is a beautiful looking leather collar or halter that is stylish as well as practical. At this time it is still in the pre-order stage of marketing.
Unlike a traditional halter or collar, this one has a small tracker unit that is inserted into the crown strap on the halter or the top of the collar. The device itself, which is similar in many ways to a human fitness tracker, does more than just keep track of motion.
It will also monitor the horse’s respiration and heart rate as well as any specific behaviours that may indicate the horse is in pain or discomfort. It can even track changes in posture. The unit then has the capacity to send a text, email or even call you to let you know if anything out of the ordinary is noted. It is a full breakaway halter and collar, so it is considered safe for continual wear.
It is truly customised for your horse and has to be worn over time to determine the baseline levels for your particular animal. It also has a GPS tracking device so you can always know just where he or she is in the stable, pasture or even during transport. As you can image the system also comes with its own app and a secure website portal to allow you to check in on all the readings for the horse from any type of internet-connected device.
With an expected price of $499.99 US and only pre-selling in the United States and Canada for delivery late in 2016, this is a more costly option than the basic tracker technology that is on the market. However, with the additional features and the ability to stream data, it is certainly worth considering.
Balance and Control Options
On a bit lower tech level, there are unique magnetic stirrups and boot combinations that are designed to allow the rider to maintain correct positioning of the foot in the stirrups throughout any type of riding conditions.
The strong magnets, which are not visible on the bottom of the boots and in the stirrup, help to hold the foot in place. This can greatly reduce leg fatigue and help the rider to focus in on correct form rather than the position of the feet in the stirrups.
At the same time, since the foot and lower legs are always in the right position, the body learns the correct form without developing bad habits. While the magnets hold the foot in place from sliding back or forward or pulling up, they are very easy to move apart when either side of the foot is lifted. This allows for easy dismounting and complete safety even if a rider were to take a fall.
There are also some very unique sensors that are designed to track a horse’s activity in different equestrian events. These are more like human fitness trackers and are geared for specific disciplines such as dressage, jumping, eventing and endurance.
With these trackers also linking to apps and web-based portals, you can get a complete read on the performance of the horse from gait and stride around the course to how long you spent riding in one direction or another. Using Bluetooth technology, these girth mounted trackers will help riders of any level with a precise look at their training routine and improvements in their overall performance.