Cambridge – A chance meeting through a marketing project at Conestoga College has led to the development of a wearable monitoring device for horses – similar to the popular Fitbits used by people – that is now in use around the world.
SeeHorse is both an activity monitor and a health tracking device that can track all of a horse’s vital signs, including temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate. And if something is not quite right, the system sends an email alert to anyone who needs to know about a change in the horse’s condition.
Once attached to a horse’s halter, bridle or on a belly strap, the device can be synced to a smartphone or tablet and the information it gathers around the clock can be seen in the accompanying app in real-time, or viewed later as historical data.
“Everything is automatically collected and stored according to date and time so data can be extracted in report format and emailed to as many people as you like from veterinarians, trainers and riders to owners and barn managers,” explains SeeHorse co-founder and competitive equestrian Jessica Roberts.It was somewhat of an accidental invention. Roberts was finishing her marketing diploma at Kitchener’s Conestoga College when one of her final projects involved developing a new marketing strategy for a client.
That client was Peter Mankowski, now SeeHorse’s CEO and Roberts’ co-founder, a former Blackberry scientist who was looking for some help with a device he’d invented to monitor pet health.
“Peter had developed a similar technology for cats and dogs and when I saw it, I said I’m from the horse industry and we need this for horses,” says Roberts, who now works full-time for SeeHorse. “I was just a student but we started working together to develop SeeHorse. It was great for him to put so much faith into someone who is fresh out of school.”
Roberts played an active role in SeeHorse’s research and development, which included testing the devices on her horses at Walden Equestrian Centre near Cambridge, and they’re now being used world-wide on international and Olympic calibre horses, she says. “We started with three models but have refocused on just a single one, which was the one most popular with our early buyers,” she says.
The company has gone from start-up to full-fledged production and distribution and recently moved out of its first offices at Communitech in Kitchener into its own space in Cambridge. Customers can buy the device online at seehorse.ca or find a local distributor for the chance to see the product, which is made in Ontario, before making a purchase.
The immediate goal is to expand sales and add more retail locations, such as local tack stores, says Roberts, as well as continuing to develop the technology by listening to their customers and responding to their needs.
“To everybody’s surprise, SeeHorse was quickly embraced by a number of top level riders in Canada, the U.S. and overseas,” she adds. “We were told that there is nothing like seeing your horse through the SeeHorse app 24/7 anywhere in the world.”
Photo source: AgInnovation Ontario