Humans have been riding horses for thousands of years. We have ridden them through deserts, mountains, and forests. They have fought alongside us in wars, helping us win battles, and sacrificing their lives alongside our soldiers. They have worked alongside us in equine sports, pushing to run faster, trying to push harder, and striving to win. They have kept us company, guiding us through wild trails and offering comfort, love, and support when the world has felt lonely.
Horses were once practical, even necessary for survival. Today, with the inventions of cars, planes, and mechanical ships, horses are no longer necessary for transportation as they once were. Still, they continue to be our companions.
How ever much the way we interact with horses has transformed, the bond between people and these animals is far from broken. Technology has not rendered horses useless to humans, but simply altered the way we interact with them. Horses are increasingly used for equine therapy to assist for many types of therapies and treatments. In many ways, technology has strengthened the bond between man and beast, allowing for man to care for beast better than ever before.
Upcoming Equine Technology
The internet of things (IoT) is not a technology unique to equine purposes, but it is increasingly present in every aspect of our lives, including horseback riding. The expansion of the IoT means connecting every device that has an on/off switch to the internet.
At Dressage Pro Live, a horse showcase in the Netherlands, featured potential upcoming technology. During the show, Morgan Lashley, a veterinarian and entrepreneur, presented her research about underperforming and lame horses. The technology, from the University of Utrecht, evaluated the movement of an underperforming horse. The data found contradicted what was previously thought to be wrong; the hind legs were not causing the problem, but the front legs were.
Also featured at Dressage Pro Live For the Horses were IPOS Rein Sensors. These sensors are designed to help riders keep equal pressure on the rein with both hands. They can be used with the assistance of another person who can alert the rider when the pressure is too uneven for more than a couple seconds, or the rider can get alerts through earphones.
For the Riders
New technology that can benefit horse riders starts with wearable technology and smart apparel. Like any other athlete, horse riders can benefit from wearable technology by having their vitals monitored, and in the future could include heart rate monitoring shirts and GPS equipped jackets.
More tailored to horseback riders specifically are saddle clips. This is a piece of technology that is attached to the saddle and is used to evaluate training. This device aids intuition and personal thinking, potentially rescuing an overly tired horse from injury or health issues. It can also help trainers come up with the best routines to push their horses to be better athletes.
Much like the saddle clip, a lot of emerging equine technology is designed to protect the horse. Just like a smartwatch can monitor a person’s vitals, HorseAnalytics technology can keep track of the health of a horse. This technology tracks specific movements, quality of sleep, and even detects oncoming illnesses. It sends the information to a phone app, keeping the rider connected to their horse day and night.
Another methodology has been developed to monitor stress levels in horses. This is important because the current methods of evaluating stress levels in horses is mainly limited to evaluating physical appearance. Being able to monitor stress levels and make according arrangements to decrease them can greatly benefit a horse’s health.
On a bit of a different track is anti-horse collision technology. This technology has been developed by Volvo as part of its autonomous car package. This technology would be able to detect horses in the path of the car and bring the car to a stop, if necessary.
Horse care and health is the most important part of horse riding, and the more technology is able to help us with that the better. As our relationships with horses and technology continues to change, we will strive to continue putting horse health above all else and strengthen our bond with these majestic creatures.