The Tech Equestrian

Welcome to the new normal. Technology is everywhere and effects everyone and everything. To keep up with the changes and information that impacts the equestrian world, I hope you will enjoy the stories, profiles and insights this blog features. In addition, stay connected on social by joining the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages!

TTE Advisory Board: March to Innovate: Smart Barns and So Much More!

TTE Advisory Board: March to Innovate: Smart Barns and So Much More!

This month’s topic focuses on innovation and exploring the concept of a ‘smart home’ as it relates to the horse world. From automation to voice activation to modern day efficiencies of scale that technology is enabling and bringing the user more control, security and peace of mind. Let’s hear from the board on their insights to the following question(s).

Question 1
How do you see the 'smart home' concept apply to the horse world? Provide an example or provide insight on how your product/service will contribute to the era of connected everything.

Question 2
Give an example of innovation that you've seen in the consumer world that could be adopted in the equine world. 

I’d also like to welcome a new member of the board - Misty Pleiness, founder and creator of HorseLinc (her app was profiled on The Tech Equestrian last March)

The “smart home” concept is already a reality in our life and in the equine world there are already several companies that provide wearable sensors for horses that offer insights using real-time data.In addition, the constant need to help the user act quickly and identify patterns to aid in decision-making leads me to think we will see greater innovation in the near future. In the case of Ekinox Tech, voice-activated technology could be a next step to help the user to select the correct program to apply by a simple voice command. If we add into this equation the integration with other programs or devices that can help spot which muscle area needs to be treated with more focus, it could definitely be something disruptive that could create endless opportunities.
- Nick, Ekinox Tech

A good example of a smart home innovation that could be applied in the horse world would be the ability to measure the amount of water in buckets and alerts you of consumption rates. Secondly, I’d like to see moisture sensors in stalls that would send an alert if there has not been any urine activity. By connecting the barn utilities – fans, windows, lights, temperature, etc. from my smart phone, especially if a rainstorm comes or there is a sudden change in temperature – this type of control would help monitor and maintain the right balance and keep things operating efficiently. When it comes to security – a device similar to Ring (outdoor motion based camera and doorbell) to see who's at the gate would be a big help with knowing who is coming and going, a time saver – the gate opens with the touch of a button and it would provide a greater level of safety.
- Jenny, GoHorse

To me, a "smart barn" would be one that tries to most efficiently and conveniently suit the needs of the people in the barn, the horses, and the environment. Luckily, in the horse world "smart" innovations are already out there.  For example, the NIGHTWATCH halter is a great tool to monitor the health of the horse and make it easy for the person to be notified of any problems. I've also been in contact with another company whose horse "wearables" (like saddle pads and boots) can record vitals during a horse's workout. We do want to integrate Stable Secretary with these types of monitoring products to facilitate recording more data on each horse, for the health of the horse and the convenience of the person.  

Something related that I'd be eager to see is some sort of stall mat sensor that could "learn" normal movement for that horse and then detect anything unusual.  It could be as simple as detecting more rolling or pawing than usual, or more advanced to sense the urine and manure output.  
Kate, StableSecretary

I’ve spent over 25 years in the software business and when the time came to build my barn, I had the opportunity to start with a blank sheet. I used my geeky background to make my barn a #smartbarn. Let me give you some examples of what that means:
The Barn: I partnered with Barn Pro’s who ships barn kits across North America. I wanted to use a company that invested in the best technologies and products in the construction of my barn. They listened to my needs, understood my environment challenges and engineered the perfect barn for my property.

Lighting: All the lighting in and around my barn is LED based. When you walk into my barn, it is lit up brightly while getting the benefit of LED that equals a cheaper electric bill. All the lights are managed with smart light switches and they can be turned on and off via an app on my phone.  

Monitoring: I like having a view of what my horses are up to. There are 6 cameras in and around the barn. Half of them are in the barn (front, back and one that faces the pastures).

Feeding: I utilize iFeed Technologies feeders for all the stalls. These feeders provide 2 ounces of grain 7 times a day, which results in a slow feed experience similar to when they are out in the pastures.  

Manure: Who knew you could make that smart! I use a system from o2Compost that introduces air into the bottom of the manure pile, which accelerates the composting processes from 6 to 9 months down to 30 to 45 days! O2Compost works amazingly and I can’t recommend it enough.
Patrick, The Equestrian

Smart home technology is in the early stages of usefulness and I expect some of the current technology, like temperature controls and timed lights, will make it to the barn. My company Magic AI is bringing smart security and monitoring technology to the barn now with our equine product, StableGuard.

The next generation of smart home technology that is coming is even more exciting. As sensors become embedded in appliances and everyday items throughout the home, we will interact with the physical world in new and exciting ways. As a simple example, these new systems will tell you when to order milk for the fridge, or hay for the barn. Keep track of expiring medication, or warn you to close the barn doors for incoming inclement weather. Eventually these sensors will warn you that a bridle is wearing down, or that a horse is more agitated than normal. As futuristic as these ideas may sound today, I think you will be surprised by how quickly they arrive.
- Alexa,

The term ‘smart’ originally comes from the acronym for “Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology” used to protect and prevent errors in hard drives. Since then, the term smart has been broadly associated with any inanimate object that interacts with humans and guides our behavior. For example, smart phones, smart cars, smart thermostats, smart doorbells, smart locks, smart refrigerators, smart speakers, and so on. It was therefore only a matter of time before smart technology would come to the horse world, and that’s exactly what happened in 2013 when Protequus® started development of the world’s first smart halter™, NIGHTWATCH®.

NIGHTWATCH is a sophisticated early-warning system for horses (breakaway leather halter) that alerts caretakers via text, voice, and email at the early signs of a possible problem, such as colic, foaling, and being cast. Because no two horses are the same, this patented IoT-enabled smart device actually learns your horse’s unique physiology and looks for deviation that correlates with pain/distress. In short, this smart wearable device collects and analyzes biometric and behavior data on your horse to make the decision of when to alert you to a possible problem. 

The advent of NIGHTWATCH not only has the potential to save the lives of many horses through early intervention and referral, but also revolutionize how equine insurance companies manage risk, how veterinarians practice telemedicine, and how researchers design better comparative studies.
- Jeffrey,

I think that this concept could be widely used among the barns and could be an excellent advantage for barn managers. It will be more useful once we, the app developers, include voice commands in our apps. For example, let's say a barn manager needs a trip and can request it just by saying: "Hey Google/Alexa/Siri, request a trip for Sancha from Wellington to Old Salem on April 22nd" instead of going to the app and entering in the request himself. This is just one of the tools that can be used, but barns can be 100% automated, lights, temperature and water could be simple improvements that can help a barn manager in his/her daily routine.
Juan, Equo

Question 1
The horse industry is ahead of the curve in the "smart home" department. Most equestrians are always looking for ways to be efficient around the barn.
Many barns, not just fancy ones, have lights on timers, auto waterers and temperature control. StableGuard is on the forefront with tapping into even better technology with their AI cameras so I see that really being the next step to the "smart barn."

Question 2
I wish equestrians would realize the power of their smart phones and use them in the way they are intended. The innovation is there but it's a matter of getting horse professionals to adapt. For example, SmartPak was WAY ahead of its time in the "subscription box" category - they are the Amazon of supplements. There are so many innovative technologies out there - look at what this great group of advisors has come up with! Horse professionals are so busy with their daily routines that it is hard for them to adopt new concepts. I strongly urge them to take the time to adapt because in the long run you will be saving time and so much more.  
Sales Paddock

The Internet of Things (IoT) will come to the stable as it is doing to the home. The only slight difference is that most stables don’t have a decent Wi-Fi signal, so devices will likely interact with a smart phone when the rider visits the horse rather than directly with the Internet. We have been impressed with the Arioneo Orscana Horse Sensor, which is a simple and inexpensive mechanism for monitoring horse activity and the environment to help with blanketing.
- Richard, Huufe

This question had me thinking about cameras and their connected technologies. Translate this into the horse world and it brings to mind many advantages. You can set up a security camera on a limited budget to watch your pregnant mare that is due any minute from the comfort of your bed on your phone. You can install a camera in your trailer that you can monitor your horse while shipping from the vehicle or grant access to others such as owners who can see the horse's entire trip. Why not set them up in your tack room or at a horse show for added security on your tack and equipment?  

There may be disadvantages as well though. I have a friend who set one up in her horse's stall at the boarding facility where she kept her horse. She thought it was great to see how he was doing throughout the day and posted funny videos on social media of him dreaming at night. As a barn owner though, would you need to think about what this would mean from a liability perspective? Or how it would impact your insurance coverage?  Do you need to set rules and expectations before the technology outpaces you?  
- Misty, HorseLinc

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