5 Amazing Hi-Tech products to help care for your horse

Horse aps and tech is the latest and biggest impact on the equine world in the last two decades.  Seen as a bastion of tradition and good old-fashioned hard work – Alexa hasn’t yet learned how to muck out or clean tack – the equestrian industry is finally embracing technology and the innovative apps that are around, are just the tip of the tech iceberg.

Most people have seen the more general apps which are like diaries for you to keep details of your horse’s regime or competition schedule.  There are also location and tracker apps which help people when they are out hacking and can alert someone in the event of a fall or rider accident. 

Many horse aps and tech is aimed at caring for the horse and the impact on equine welfare is immeasurable.  Using an app which brings together training programmes, a competition diary and all your horse’s healthcare protocols truly integrates all the key elements that are crucial to your horse’s life and his wellbeing.

Here are 5 of the best Hi-Tech products to help you care for your horse.  Okay, the first one is a bit of a stretch on the care front but this app was just too good to leave out of the review.  Riding a cross country course safely and at the correct speed is all about caring for your horse anyway

1. CrossCountry app

Forgot those days of walking the course and then getting to the end and having forgotten a key element.  Taking pictures of the fences on your phone can help but it doesn’t string them together or help you memorise the relationship between the fences and the terrain.  The course plan back at the Secretary’s tent doesn’t always help either if you are having a blank moment.

Herald the arrival of CrossCountry app.  This can be used by riders of all levels and is used by grassroots riders and Olympians alike.  Record your course as you walk, just key in the location, the speed in metres per minute and the optimum time.  This very clever piece of kit will automatically calculate the minute markers, crucial location points so you can ascertain whether you are up or down the clock at that point in the course.  You can also add your own Waypoints and the app will tell you what your time should be when you reach there.  Add photos and video of each fence and striding and any comments or notes to act as an aide-memoire for when you review the course later on.  Create a library of courses you have ridden and share them with other people.  The really great thing about this app is that does not require mobile connection or internet as you walk.

CrossCountry app can help you be more accurate on time and make sure you never miss out a fence or lose your way.  It is ideal for those running multiple horses in different sections at an event but riders of all levels use it and find it to be an essential and invaluable part of their pre-event kit. 

This app is about centralising your horse’s care records so that nothing gets lost or overlooked.  Use the diary system to set reminders for your horse’s vaccinations, chiropractic or physiotherapy, appointments for the farrier, worming regimes and dentistry check-ups.  If you have more than one horse or are running a yard then HorseDialog is invaluable to make sure you can keep on top of everything for each horse and not let a vital appointment go overlooked.

With HorseDialog, you can also use the diary for equine events, competitions, lessons and clinics and linking this to your horse’s health records can make it so much easier not to get caught out.  Who hasn’t forgotten to ask the farrier for stud holes a week before a cross country competition or forgotten about the seven-day stand down after a flu vaccination and not been able to go out to compete?  Handy reminders can help you to not get in a muddle with your horse’s busy schedule.

 Log prescribed veterinary treatments into the app so you can pull up your horse’s medication records just when you need to if you are out and about.  You can share this information with other people who help care for your horse whether that is a friend, staff on the livery yard or your vet.  The app also has a GPS ‘track my ride’ functionality which can record the exercise your horse has taken to help you track and monitor fitness.  All in all, HorseDialog has a universality and an all-round integrated holistic approach to help you care better for your horse.  HorseDialog is available from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

This is an equestrian app which tracks the horse’s movements and feeds this back to the rider as a valuable part of training development.  You can also share your horse’s data with other riders and your trainer.

Equilab has a calendar facility to allow you to plan your horse’s schedule and that includes key appoints from support professionals like your vet, farrier and physiotherapist.  Equilab has a popular following and across many equestrian disciplines including eventing, western riding, horse racing, polo, endurance as well as dressage and show jumping.

Equilab can collect data about your training patterns using the sensor’s on your phone whilst you just focus on getting on with the job in hand.  Collect data about beat, stride and speed as well as the amount of time spent on each rein and the gait distribution.  The app will also tell you the energy consumption of your training sessions, a great fitness aid for both horse and rider. 

Equilab is a fabulous riding and training app but one which you can also combine with your horse’s management; it relates the two things together and, of course, they are connected.  One other helpful feature is the Safety Tracking facility which allows someone back at home or on the yard to follow your live position when you are riding out until you are back safe and sound, a great device for those who hack out alone.

To activate Equilab, just keep your phone in a snug pocket close to your body or wear a sports armband.  Equilab works with Apple Watch and Android Wear and also integrates with the Google Fit app.

The excitement of waiting for a foal to arrive is probably outweighed by the sheer panic of missing the foaling or a problem going undetected.  FoalApp is there to help mare owners and can monitor multiple in-foal mares, not just one.  So, how does it work?

Download FoalApp onto your Smartphone.  Then download FoalApp onto a second Smartphone and place the phone in a FoalApp pouch and attach it to the halter or headcollar on the expectant mare.  The overlapping Velcro panels provide a reliable attachment and keep the phone both safe and dry whilst the mare is wearing it.  The pouch is made from soft neoprene which is comfortable for the mare and the transparent front face gives the camera a clear view.

The owner can then check on the mare any time any place by using the on-demand video stream to the mare’s own phone.  If the mare lies down, an alarm will sound on the owner’s phone and the owner can use the live stream video to check on what the mare is doing.  The video stream also features audio which can be very important for the owner to evaluate what is going on as sound will pick up the mare breathing and identify whether her breathing has become more laboured which could indicate that she has started foaling.

Mares can foal very quickly and commonly at night when they feel safest.  No-one wants to miss that wonderful birthing moment but it is also important to be on hand to manage any difficulties and complications quickly and efficiently.  These might be with the mare birthing or with the foal after he or she is born.  FoalApp is reliable in any weather and will also sound an alert if your phone is running out of battery.  FoalApp also has a long-range via wi-fi or your mobile network.

In a nutshell: The Equestic SaddleClip is a training sensor that analyses data and converts it into clear graphs and summaries, which are sent to your smartphone. You can share this data with others such as your vet and trainer via the app. This lets all members of your team contribute to refining your training routine and the horse’s welfare based on objective, shared information.

Amy says: ‘It was very easy and quick to download and I was able to register myself and two of my horses without reading any instructions. The device just clips to the saddle behind the knee of the rider and you start and stop recording your ride by just clicking the app.

‘It measures intensity, direction, gait, transitions, rhythm, impulsion and symmetry and despite its ease of use, it actually processes some quite technical data. I found this particularly interesting as it can be used as an indicator of fitness, strength and performance.

‘The most useful data recorded was direction – time spent on each rein – as this is something I’m always very aware of. The app also shows how much time was spent in each place, which is useful for fitness work.

‘I’ve never ridden a music test, but it’s something I would love to do one day and I think this app would be really helpful as it measures BPM, making it easier to find music to suit your horse.

‘I really like that you can keep a check on your horse’s wellbeing through the symmetry section. Over time it’ll be great to measure how much stronger and more symmetrical the horse becomes in his gait. There is a monthly subscription fee for the more technical data, so it would be better if this was included free on the app.’

Star rating: 8/10

To sum up: ‘A user-friendly and intuitive app that measures a great range of data to help ensure a correct workout for your horse.’

Cost: Free to download, monthly subscription charge from £3 a month, SaddleClip sensor £199, equestic.com

Apps are the future for the equestrian world and it won’t just be horse owners embracing this new technology.  Faced with an equine flu epidemic last year, many sporting bodies moved to a six-monthly flu vaccination programme for horses competing under rules.  With hundreds of horses eventing on any one day at different venues with each one needing a quick passport check at the gate before they could park and unload, what better for officials than an app which can quickly calculate from a horse’s passport whether all the correct vaccinations were present with the requisite seamless cover?  This is a task which in the old days would have been done manually either on the gate or more likely at the declarations tent by which time a horse was already in and unloaded before a problem with flu vaccination cover had been flagged.  This is the clearest possible indicator of technology being used to benefit equine welfare, protecting horses by identifying those which are unvaccinated or whose vaccinations are out of time.

So, some of the apps that owners will see in the future will be driven by developments from equine sporting bodies and other agencies looking to harness horse aps and tech to manage their element of the equine world but which developments and advances could filter into the broader equestrian picture to benefit all horse owners.  But equally, there will always be a demand for apps that make sense of two of the most confusing and complicated areas of horse care – feeding and fitness.  Apps can take the mystery and guesswork out of both of these resulting in better horse care and less compromise on welfare either due to lack of knowledge or misinformation.   Soon, vets could be prescribing apps alongside medication, trainers setting apps for homework and feed companies could be selling their own branded apps to help owners calculate the correct rations.  Horse aps and tech are here to stay.

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