Wearable tech now available for racehorses

Posted Jun 16, 2016 by Tim Sandle
Like or loathe it, horse racing is a dangerous sport. In the U.S. around 500 horses die each year (with the figure in the U.K. at around 150). Researchers hope a new wearable device will help to reduce injuries and fatalities.
Horse race at Woodbine racetrack in Toronto
Horse race at Woodbine racetrack in Toronto
Brian Morton
The wearable device cannot prevent actual physical harm to horses, from jumping, being over exerted or from the thrash of a whip; however, wearable technology can monitor the vital signs of a horse and send an alert to the stable staff.
The wearable technology is designed to assess a horse's physical well-being during a race or on an exercise run. The focus is on exertion and the risk of fractures (both of which can lead to a horse having to be put down.) The device is called the Equimètre, and it has been designed and developed by a French start-up company called Arioneo.
According to New Scientist magazine, the Equimètre is composed of a sensor designed to be fitted into the girth (this is a strap that is placed around a horse’s middle in order to secure the saddle). The sensor collects physiological data that can be used to assess a horse's well-being. This includes temperature, heart beat, and the respiratory rate. The device can also assess information about the movement, including the horse's acceleration and speed. The collected data can be cross-checked with external data that the sensor collects, such as environmental temperature and humidity, since these also affect the over-all health of the horse.
The video below gives an idea of how the device will work in practice (the narration is in French):
The collected data is transmitted to a smartphone app. This enables the trainer and stable staff to assess the horse. The idea is that a horse can be called out of race, or prevented from entering another race, or over training can be avoided, should the vital signs signal the likelihood of an adverse health event occurring.
The device has been welcomed more within the technology sector than with the horse racing fraternity, judging by the Twitter activity. From the tech side, Antoine Clément (@Antoine_Azalead), a digital marketing expert, tweeted: "Good news pour Arioneo qui lève 1.1M€ pour développer @equimetre le premier #IoT pour les chevaux de course."