ST. GEORGE — A horse’s legs are its life. When damaged, the result could mean putting down the animal.
Along these lines, Utah inventor and rodeo competitor David Wadman, CEO of Zebra Equine Technologies, has developed a horse boot to reduce temperatures on horse’s legs that can cause tendon damage.
An amateur rodeo competitor who started in high school in the late ’90s, nearly two decades later Wadman decided to turn his love for horses into a profession by making the investment in several horses.
“At the time, I noticed swelling on my horses’ legs,” Wadman said. “I was using the top-of-the-line boots at the time for horses, (but) still my horses’ tendons kept swelling up.”
At an upfront cost to purchase a horse ranging from $8,000 to as much as $80,000 depending on the type of animal, it is quite an investment that has to be protected, Wadman said.
“Because I had invested so much money, I felt it was a necessity to do more research.”
Wadman said he discovered that the boots he was using were actually harnessing heat around the horses’ legs during competitions, especially in the summer, and he soon realized he needed to find another medium to protect his horses’ legs during competition.
“In my search, I could not find anything,” he said. “There were rehabilitation boots that were for after competition to cool the tendons down. I came to the conclusion that the horse boots that people were using during competitions actually cooked the horse’s lower legs.”
After experimenting with different types of materials to reduce heat, Wadman struck upon the idea for his invention.
His high-tech Z Boot tracks the temperature of a horse’s legs and alerts the rider via a smartphone application when it is becoming dangerously high.
Wadman said is just seemed to make sense to utilize the technology most riders already had at their fingertips – literally speaking – to make them better horse owners.
“When you go into a rodeo and you see all the riders waiting to ride into the arena, they are on their cell phones,” he said. “I thought we could use that same technology for the care of our horses.”
The Z Boot utilizes Bluetooth temperature sensor reports for real-time monitoring, employs thermodynamic materials to pull heat from the horse’s legs and is made from high-quality, flexible multi-impact protection technology that removes 90% of impact damage. The boot is also perforated to allow for ventilation and has strong grip closures, making the boots long-lasting and easy to secure.
“Once the boot sends the alert that it has absorbed as much of the heat as it can, that is when it should be removed and put in a cooler environment to recharge them or dunk them into a bucket of water,” Wadman said. “They will recharge them in about three minutes. Once they are rung out, they can be put back on the horse for up to two more hours of heat absorption.”
According to equine research, when a horse’s collagen cells, the main structural protein in their tendons, are subjected to temperatures of more than 110 degrees, the cells start to die.
“In the studies, they calculated on a bare horse leg, one without a boot and carrying a rider, the internal temperature of the tendon was more than 110 degrees,” Wadman said. “When you increase this by putting a typical boot made of Neoprene or sheepskin, it’s going to keep the collagen cells in the toxic environment.”
Although damage caused depends on the horse, the result can be bowed tendons, lameness, pain and arthritis. In extreme cases, the horse may have to be put down.
“The biggest worry is an extensive period of treatment, with the horse taking years off from competition and no guarantee of recovery,” Wadman said.
Although Wadman was an experienced rider, he said he had no idea the damage typical boots were causing.
“They put blinders on racehorses, and I came to find out that I had blinders on as well,” he said. “I had no idea about the potential problems and that my horses were most likely working through the pain. I knew I couldn’t take the chance with other boots to keep cooking my horses’ legs.”
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