Tuesdays with Tony
Let me begin by saying I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday. What more could a cat ask for than shiny things on a tree followed by empty boxes and wadded up paper? I realize you humans have lots of holidays, for lots of different things, but this one gets my vote as best.
Moving on to an actual topic: Horse Tech. Dr. Lacher has an obsession with technology. She may not have all of it she wants, but she sure researches the heck out of it. So without further idle chit-chat, I bring you a few of her favorite things.
FitBit for Horse
There are four or five companies working on slightly different versions of the fitbit for horses. Equisense, SeeHorse, Orscana, and Trackener are just a few. The main drawback they all have at the moment is they work on one part of your horse’s life. They either are designed for use during work, or while they are hanging out, but not really both. We all love our fitness trackers because they tell us about our entire day. It would be great to know you rode your horse for 3 miles, and he did another 7 in the pasture last night. For the record, there will never be a fitness tracker for cats for obvious reasons.
These trackers do have some pretty cool things that they track. They can tell you how “even” your horse moves from right to left, they can tell you how much time you spent at the walk, trot, and canter, how you did on take-off distances for jumpers, and even how your horse compares today to his “normal.” Using some of these features, they found that you humans are really bad at knowing how much work you’ve actually done on your horse. Humans underestimated the time they had spent on walk breaks by 50%. And you think cats lay around all the time!
If you breed mares and want early babies, you know the struggle of mares under lights. You need them in the stall until 9:30 – 10pm every night, they think that’s stupid, and you wonder if the light is bright enough.
Enter Equilume. They did the work to prove that a blue light shining in one eye at a certain brightness for a certain amount of hours worked as well as being in a stall. Then they took that light and put it on a racehorse hood. Voila! Your mare can hang out in a field with her friends, with a light shining in one eye. Because that light is blue, and only on one eye, she can still see all she needs to see.
Bonus feature: just this year they found that mares wearing the hood who were due to foal early in the season had bigger, stronger, healthier babies than mares on the same farm not wearing the hood. Biggest downside of Equilume is the cost (around $500) for something that can only be used for one season. I imagine that like all tech it will improve and get cheaper as time goes on. I also know that some of you would pay a lot more than $500 to not have your mare in a stall.
Can’t decide how many clothes your horse wants to wear tonight? I’m going to tell you, it’s fewer than you think. I find you humans are always cold compared to those of us with a fur coat. I digress. Turns out there’s an App (and a sensor) for that. Horseware Ireland, being a manufacturer of some of the best blankets on the planet, found out that lots of people have that same question, so they made Horsepal.
This is a small sensor that fits inside your horse’s blanket and checks temperature and humidity. Using that information, the Horsepal app tells you if your horse is likely too hot, too cold, or just right. The App links weather from your area and compiles past data for your horse so over time you can figure out which clothes will be best for what weather. Downside: it can’t send that data to you from the field, but it does store three days worth of data for you to download and review. I’m also not sure how useful this is in Florida, but I do think it gets cool points for helping you humans know how your horses are feeling in the field at 2 am.
I’m including this one simply because it’s just so dang amazing! Seriously, when you humans put your mind to something, it’s unbelievable what you can do. The inventors of this system were trying to come up with a way to pre-train baby thoroughbreds. They looked at the research out there and found that if you could put babies through a build-up fitness program before you put a rider on them, you had fewer career (and even life) -ending injuries. But how do you do that?
Their solution certainly isn’t cheap, but it is pretty spectacular. The KurtSystem is basically a big monorail system for horses. They use this to start training horses on a track-size area (so way bigger than a roundpen) with no weight. The horses start with slow speeds and short distances and work up over 6 months to faster speeds (still not racing fast), longer distances, and even a bit of weight (around 70 pounds). The goal is to create horses who have some level of fitness, and an understanding of how to do their job before adding a floppy human to the whole system. It seems balancing you humans is really hard work! While I’m certain this won’t be a feature in every barn, it’s cool to geek out on it and to see someone trying so hard to prevent injuries in young thoroughbreds.
What’s your horse tech dream for 2018? My tech dream is a button I push to open the door. Although, I’ll admit, it is fun to watch my staff open and close and open and close it for me. Now scroll a little further down the page, enter your email, and subscribe to my blog. It will make you a better human.
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!