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Wearing your tech on your sleeve

Wearing your tech on your sleeve

Wearing your tech on your sleeve

The equestrian world, for so long talked of as ‘the horsey set’, is now developing into one of the biggest users of technology in the areas of sport and leisure. No longer a world of tradition, earthy coloured clothing and an ‘eye for a horse’, riding is getting ‘smart’.

One of the biggest technological developments in the industry is the use of sensors. They can be used to analyse many aspects of a horse’s performance and health, and already over 80 companies provide wearable sensor technology for horses.

Amongst a myriad of uses there are ‘sensitive’ headcollars that can monitor every aspect of your horse’s health and well being in stable or field, girth sleeves that measure a horse’s heart and breathing rate and use algorithms to determine the style of the animal’s movements, a smart saddle with a small chip collecting information every time you ride, and a small device to attach to riding helmets called an ICEdot that can register when you’ve had a fall, and send out emergency notifications on your behalf.

It is not just sensors that are effective, farriers are beginning to use 3d printing to help them develop ‘super shoes’ for horses and there is the high-tech “camera pill” that vets can use to incredible effect in diagnosis and treatment.

With all this innovation, it is no surprise that technology is now moving into riding clothes. Effective equestrian clothing starts with the knowledge of the mechanics of riding, but beyond that, the sky's the limit--and certain designers have taken that to heart, creating performance-oriented clothing that looks good enough to rival anything seen on the high street.

We have clothing that is waterproof, windproof, stain repellent, breathable, anti UV, hypo allergenic, anti bacterial, quick drying and easy care. Riding clothes now include sunscreen, wicking, gripping, body mapping, odour management and are just plain stretchy – all as a matter of course. It’s a wonder it all fits on the information label. However, there is more to come, with specialist companies using new materials and research into how the body moves and reacts to bring us a new generation of riding boots and hats that will revolutionise our mechanical health and skeletal well being.

And then there is smart clothing. Much more than just strapping gadgets to our wrists, faces, ears and feet, smart clothing can do so much more, constantly tracking our heart rate even monitoring our emotions – all without the use of a phone or smartwatch. From smart bras to smart socks, there is a range of very clever clothing heading our way and the equestrian industry will be one of the first to welcome it with open arms.

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