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RacingBetter News
Saturday 9th June 2018
How Is Horse Racing Being Changed By High Tech?

Throughout history the role of the horse has changed dramatically, and these spectacular animals have displayed an amazing range of athletic ability. With some cultures still relying on horses as a means of transportation or agriculture, others mainly view the relationship with the horse as one of sport or pleasure.

Now a multibillion-dollar industry, the economic value of the business of horses is estimated to be $39 billion just in the US alone. The following new technologies can potentially disrupt the equine industry, changing the fundamentals of how we take care of horses.

1. 3D printing

3D printers can present progressive solutions to traditional challenges. Through new and improved breeding and nutrition, the horse industry has been able to radically better and enhance performance, however challenges remain, largely related to injuries and irregular growth patterns.

3D printing could be utilised to create casts, splints or perhaps even prosthetics for animals with broken legs or injuries. For every Seabiscuit, there are endless examples of horses that are put down when they break a bone. In the past, the prognosis for such horses was very poor, but what if 3D printing as a new tool, veterinarians could print any number of things to solve myriad health issues.

2. Robots

A surplus of repetitive tasks are already being replaced by robot technology. This is particularly in manufacturing, and thus largely lessening costs of labour. In the horse industry, applications could actually save lives. Robots are able to lift a horse in a careful manner that controls weight distribution and subsequently reducing the risk of injuring horses in operations that could be life-threatening, like broken legs or laminitis for instance.

3. Drones (robotic horsefly)

The Bureau of Land Management could possible utilise drones as a way to monitor the movements and population of wild horses, without the need for helicopters or trackers, both of which present their own unique challenges and limitations. It is also possible to picture a future where drones could be used as a way to deliver vaccines, antibiotics or other medical needs to veterinarians treating wild horses. On a more granular level, drones fitted with a camera, combined with machine vision, could be used to monitor the movement of a horse in open spaces and to determine lameness or other mannerism not usually visible to humans.

4. Sensors

Sensors have already found their position as a new capable technology for horse managing horses. They can be utilised for to analysing a range of aspects around performance and health, and already over 80 companies provide wearable sensor technology for horses. The capabilities of this modern technology can aid veterinarians and the equine industry enormously.

Seaver, for example, is a wearable girth that monitors a horse’s heart and breathing rate by using uses algorithms to ascertain the animal’s movement when jumping to provide scalable data concerning its vertical and horizontal aspects. This data is accessible via the rider’s smartphone app and can be saved and played back at a later stage for riders to assess the horse’s movement, path or strides. When repeated, it can determine changes over time.

Established saddle maker Voltaire has designed the first smart saddle. The Blue Wing saddle is crafted to actually benefit the horse while in use by collecting information and saving that information for review later by the rider. This is possible with a chip fitted in the saddle that collects information about each ride spanning time spent in each gait, direction, quality of the horse’s symmetry, number of jumps, and so forth.

The sensors are non-invasive so instrumentation is quick and easy.

5. Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI can eliminate many mistakes that might occur with humans.

Vetel Diagnostics is using its Intelligent Imaging™ software to analyse radiographs, identify bone density and even visually construct a leg from images taken. This cutting-edge technology can save veterinarians time and money as well as all sorts of new applications for learning and understanding.

6. Augmented reality (AR)

Augmented reality is a blend of real-world visuals subsidised with information created from external data. For instance, equine thermography uses a camera that detects infrared waves on the surface of the horses body that are not visible to the human eye. Veterinary Thermal Imaging, Ltd. uses this same information to find problems in horses’ backs, ligaments and tendons, muscles, bones and nerves, sometimes weeks before the animal is actually displaying signs of pain or injury, making it possible to preventatively treat the animal.

Furthermore, this type of technology can greatly benefit the future of horse racing betting. Using augmented reality, bettors could find it far easier to see what is taking place on the track through the use of devices such as goggles. Real vision could be enhanced with added information such as placement, speed, and market or betting information.

7. Virtual reality (VR)

Virtual reality offers a new tool for both those training to work with horses and veterinarians. Complex or uncommon surgeries could be practiced in a classroom environment, thus reducing the risk to students, technicians and teachers. Even though being relatively expensive, virtual reality has the potential to largely reduce other costs, such as time and energy, and also save the animal from undergoing invasive procedures for the purpose of learning and training. As VR gradually becomes more commonly available and less expensive, it could be used in more day-to-day training for managers and workers.

8. Blockchain

For the most part, blockchain has been primarily used in the financial industry, however it can be applied to business. In relation to the equine industry, blockchain gives buyers from all over the world the opportunity to store valuable and credible information about horses, prices, treatments, scientific studies, feeding and technology, etc. Effectively, any equine company can now have the ability to access the database and register anything about horses such as birth, surgery, injections, veterinary visits, injuries, height and weight, treatments and so forth. More and more federations are requiring microchipping in horses, including the United States Equestrian Federation and The Jockey Club. Manufacturers of microchips are benefiting from this, but so will prospective horse owners, veterinarians and anyone else interested in gaining added information pertaining a particular animal if this information is also housed using blockchain technology.

Don’t Hold Your Horses!

Such technological changes are just the beginning and are having positive impacts all throughout the equine world. For example, improvements in the health and performance of horses means that horse racing will become more competitive and exciting. This is in turn can have a positive effect on race track revenues and no doubt will lead to even more business for online bookmakers. A spokesman for the traditional betting site Betpoint, already confirmed that technology can only be a good thing and lead to positive trend in the industry.

So we can expect even more improvements in the future as equine digital technologies are being constantly refined and adapted. We can only imagine what the industry will pose in year to come. Even though it’s a difficult prediction, we can be certain that it won’t be anything like the not so distant past.