Technology The Carolinas Equestrian 01 At the mention of wearable technology, there are a wide range of products that pop into our heads, from swanky watches to helmets that are enabled with GPS and speakers. Despite being initially and predominantly fit for humans, wearables have expanded to helping animals and their keepers. In the equine world, the technology does more than improve sport performance as more and more products are being developed to ensure that our horses are healthy and free from illness.

A few of the notable products mentioned by Wearable Technologies, specifically for monitoring wellness, include HorseAlarm and SeeHorse. A Swedish innovation, HorseAlarm can alert owners to foaling or illness as it monitors sweat rates and how often the animal lies down. SeeHorse, a device that is attached to a horse’s bridle, provides biometrics such as temperature, pulse and calories burned, which are then transmitted to an accompanying app. These devices share common attributes with sports trackers for athletes, which have now seen wide adoption in the world of sports. From monitoring performance and various injury metrics, smart equipment can help prevent injury, especially in high-impact sports. Coral describes how smart helmets in the NFL can reduce the risk of injuries using tech-enabled sensors and magnets. Of course, there are also more basic metrics such as heart rate, that can detect abnormalities which would have previously been undetected, used by athletes and coaches, similar to what the technology is now doing for horses.

Video: SeeHorse Youtube

A leader in promoting equine health and safety, Protequus recently came up with a smart halter for horses called Nightwatch. According to Forbes, it can notify the owner of any signs of distress which horses may experience. It uses “edge computing” to provide real-time data even when the device is not connected to the cloud. The analysis happens on the device where the data is gathered from the horse. While it can also be used to track a mare’s foaling progress, it is particularly useful in detecting signs of colic, which is noted as the leading cause of death in horses. We previously discussed a horse’s eating habits here in The Carolinas Equestrian, specifically their tendency to roam and graze. However, if they are not properly kept, their chances of ingesting parasites or sand increases. This can harm their digestive system and leave them vulnerable to colic, making this smart halter an invaluable tool for maintaining equine health.

Aside from colic, lameness is another common disorder among horses. To counter this, HorseAnalytics is devising a product that can monitor when a horse’s stance or gait is abnormal. SportTechie explains how the Pacer uses diagrams to display the activity of the horse which highlight whether there is something unusual with how it moves. With clinical signs such as lameness, early detection is crucial for preventing further damage. Lameness is not a disease per-se, but a symptom of a much more serious illness. For instance, there might be neuromuscular damage which could manifest in difficulty in walking or even standing. HorseAnalytics’ Pacer, which hasn’t been officially launched, as well as other wearables can help owners, breeders and jockeys alike detect underlying signs of illness and take better care of their horses.