The unavoidable truth is, your horse spends the majority of the day without you. Most horses are unsupervised around 20 hours a day, and you can only guess at how they spend their time. It’s pretty nerve wracking to think something could happen while you’re not there. There used to be nothing you could do but worry, but a group of passionate horse people from Sweden are changing that.
HoofStep® is an innovative new technology designed to keep horses safe and healthy and to give horse owners much-needed peace of mind. It uses artificial intelligence to monitor your horse’s behavior and send alerts and updates right to your phone. Your horse wears a lightweight headgear that communicates with an app on your phone. It provides real-time positioning and movement of your horse, so you always know what’s going on.
We won’t get too technical on you, but the sensors in the horse’s headgear register even slight movements. That information is then communicated to the HoofStep® AI models where it’s translated into a behavior analysis. HoofStep® is capable of recognizing all the major positions and movements horses are known for. It can tell you when your horse is standing still, walking, galloping, rolling over, stretching, weaving, lying and looking at his stomach, and a lot more.
As your horse continues to wear the sensor, the HoofStep® AI will learn more about his normal behavior. The more data it collects, the more valuable the technology is. If your horse rarely lies down during the day, for example, HoofStep® will notice if he is suddenly resting more than usual. This could be a sign your horse is sick or injured. HoofStep® will notify you of its observation so you can take necessary steps to care for your horse. Noticing subtle behavioral changes is a key part of early detection of common diseases and injuries like colic and laminitis. Unless you have all day to sit on a fence post and take notes on your horse’s behavior, HoofStep® is your only way of knowing when something isn’t quite right.
Another feature of HoofStep® you’ll find useful is the real-time positioning. Once you enter your farm’s layout into the app, you can see exactly where your horse is. You can check in during the day to make sure he’s still in the right pasture, and if you have multiple horses, you can see which horses like to hang out together and which horses prefer their personal space. The statistics view within the app allows you to easily see a rundown of your horse’s daily activity level. You can see how much time he typically spends eating, resting, and being active. If those statistics suddenly start changing, HoofStep® will automatically let you know.
HoofStep® is completely customizable, and you’ll even have fun monitoring your horse’s behavior with the digital lookalike feature. The app gives you the option of creating a digital representation of your horse, so he’s always right in your pocket. When your horse starts rolling around while he’s alone in the pasture, you’ll see his digital lookalike roll around on your phone. There’s even chat channels for each horse so you can get messages from your horse, other people on your farm, and HoofStep® users in different areas.
With the first prototype made in 2016, HoofStep® has been a long time coming. It’s been in testing for three years, and it’s finally ready to be introduced to the public. The people behind this product fully believe in helping horses and their people. Priscilla Olsson, one of HoofStep’s five co-founders, told iHeartHorses:
“I’ve had horses all my life, and you know your horses like your children, at least that was what I thought! Then suddenly, this gut feeling you had, really was the first indication of an illness, like colic. So what the product solves, is giving this gut feeling an objective eye. Meaning you can take action much, much earlier.”
The purpose of HoofStep® is to keep horses healthy and safe. It accomplishes this through behavior monitoring that leads to early detection of potential problems. At the same time, HoofStep® can strengthen your bond with your horse and show you things about them you never knew. Olsson told iHeartHorses that thanks to HoofStep®, she now knows her 16-year-old stallion prefers to eat his evening hay in stages rather than right away like all the other horses. He doesn’t finish his dinner until around four in the morning, and that’s something she never would have known without the HoofStep® technology.
HoofStep® launched worldwide via Kickstarter on March 2, and horse owners can finally get their hands on the product as “early adopters.” For a special discounted price, you can pre-order HoofStep® and have your feedback help in the product’s development. To find out more, check out HoofStep on Kickstarter.
All images courtesy of HoofStep®