By Nicole Molinaro, Gianni Equi Media LLC
How horseCom came to be and where it is going!
Do you remember the 2000 Disney Original Movie, Ready to Run, about a Racehorse who didn’t have much confidence on the track until his owner stuck a pair of head phones on him? Well in typical Disney fashion, they were right about horses benefiting from music and they were way ahead of most scientific studies on this theory!
HOW DID THIS ALL HAPPEN?
About 12 years after we all fell in love with Thunder Jam and his bright yellow headphones, we all know it was the BEST Disney Original Movie out there, a woman name Marine fell in love with a beautiful Selle Français Mare named “Roquepine de Genestel,” and so the story of horseCom began!
Only moments into their first ride’s warm-up, Marine realizes that Roquepine was a bit of a spooky horse, but when she directed her towards the first small obstacle, the mare flew over it without hesitation. During the following days Roquepine continued to impress Marine with her fearless personality while jumping. The mare was not the most forgiving horse out there. While jumping a slightly higher jump than they had before, Marine lost her balance. As soon as they landed, Roquepine stopped and turned, which sent Marine flying. This was not Marine’s last flying lesson….. Despite her mixed emotions about the mare, Marine decided to buy Roquepine!
During the following months, she realized just how spooky and unpredictable the mare could be, even the noise of the hose would cause her to rear. In the ring, everything was so inconsistent that Marine was not able to figure out what the overall problem was. Despite her skills, certifications and help from many talented equestrian friends, Marine was unable to connect properly with Roquepine. Their relationship was clearly broken and all of Marine’s dreams quickly became nightmares.
Out of nowhere came an unexpected solution from her not-so-horsey family! Marine’s brother, Hugo, is an engineer, who is also very keen on music and new technology. Hugo’s fresh point of view and lack of equestrian knowledge seemed to be just what was needed! He was able to find a variety of scientific studies connecting the effects of music on horses’ behaviors. He also discovered that French trainers, such as Xavier Delalande, a former Olympian, have already figured out a whole range of equestrian training programs based on music.
For Hugo, it was very clear that music could be helpful to work on a horse’s behavioral issues, but a question remained; with equestrians working in a barn, ring or out in a field, how easy would it be to embed music into the riding experience? “Think out of the box!” is one of Hugo’s favorite quotes, so for him, putting headphones on a horse’s head didn’t seem too crazy! After several weeks of prototyping in the family garage, Hugo brought to life the first Bluetooth® connected headphones for horses.
For the first testing session, Marine and Hugo didn’t want to take too many risks, so they decided to see how Roquepine responded to music while in her stall. They played soft classical music for the mare and from the start she reacted in a positive way! Roquepine looked calmer from the very beginning, she lowered her head, relaxed on her bit …. There was no doubt that she was much more relaxed. After few sessions, the mare began to more easily accept what Marine was asking of her and they quickly worked their way back into the show ring!
In the little equestrian center close to Montpellier (South of France region), this was a huge surprise. Everybody was fully aware of Roquepine’s issues and could not believe the transformation that had occurred! Immediately everyone wanted to test out the horse headphones to see how they could improve their horse’s experience. Some found that horses that were normally very hot while warming up seemed to be easier to handle and those who were lazy and sluggish seemed to move out a lot easier… and so horseCom was born!
In France, when you need to meet the most successful breeders, trainers and top riders, the Normandy region is the place to be. It’s also in this French Horse Valley that research centers such as IFCE and businesses (Hippolia) are working closely with the horse industry to develop future technologies. For Hugo, it was time to leave their small equestrian center to head North. Hugo was able to meet with top riders, breeders, trainers who all confirmed how effective his solution could be. Based on the testimonials, it didn’t take long to convince the Normandy Region, Hippolia and IFCE of the potential that horseCom had and to gain the support needed for the first round of funding.
WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP FOR HORSECOM?
In the following months, 2 worldwide patents were registered, more public grants and awards were won by the young startup and by the end of 2015, an investment fund decided to join the venture. This coming Spring in France, the first units that will be pre-sold will be delivered to about 100 early adopters. These happy few will receive the horse bonnet with Bluetooth® connected headphones, a rider headset and an application to install on their own smartphone. With these three components, the riders will able to use Music as a training tool for them and their horses. The music sharing function is not the only function provided with the system. The horse will be able to hear voice commands from the rider through the bonnet. and a coach who is connected with the same headset can direct the rider and select music exercises remotely. No need to shout or struggle to hear your trainer anymore! If needed, the rider can answer an important phone call while in the saddle.
Despite its epic beginning, horseCom doesn’t come “out of the blue,” veterinarians, ethologist and other knowledgeable equestrian professionals have helped the horseCom founders to develop their system to benefit horses and riders training , as well as improve horses’ wellness. For the US market, a new branch has been created to adapt and promote the technology to fit American riders’ needs.
Based in NYC, horseCom USA, Inc is currently selecting 50 ambassadors of all different levels and disciplines. They will soon receive one of the kits to use on their own horses. Over the next few months, horseCom USA will be working closely with them to receive their feedback. The US version of the horseCom technology should be available for both English and Western disciplines during Summer 2016.
So what about you? Are you ready to ride Music powered?
WHAT DOES SCIENCE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT HORSES AND MUSIC?
A few Scientific articles about horses reaction to music
1. Stress responses in young, stabled horses can be modified by music : http://horsetalk.co.nz/2012/08/31/music-may-reduce-weaning-stress-research-suggests/#axzz3jfhenvo4
- Does Music Influence Emotional State in Race Horses?: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0737080615004153
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