The tendons in horses feet are some of the most important parts of their anatomy. If overworked, the tendons can actually break down and detach, potentially leading to irreparable damage and euthanasia.
A new invention called the Z Boot, developed by Zebra Equine Technologies, could reduce the risk of tendon injury in horses by drawing heat out of the ankles, while monitoring changes in temperature within.
“It can not only help control that temperature by absorbing the heat out of the horse’s tendons, but also with the boot’s temperature sensor, it can tell us what’s going on and we can be in the know,” David Wadman, CEO of Zebra Equine Technologies, told Fox News.
Layers in the Z Boot first work to cool down the horse’s ankle, while a Bluetooth temperature sensor can stream data in real-time to a smartphone app. The next layers of the Z Boot keep the horse’s ankle shielded from ambient heat and the sun’s UV rays, while the outermost layer protects against impact, like the cuts and scrapes a horse can suffer when its hooves or iron shoes nick an ankle.
The next layer is a heat shield that reflects outside heat sources, like the sun. The final layer is an impact reducing guard that lowers the risk of injury from being clipped by another hoof or heavy iron shoe.
“Through a turn, the horses can hit their legs and most horses have shoes, so the metal can cut them, or if they hit them hard enough they can chip their bones, they can hurt their tendons, anything really,” said barrel racer Shambrae Peterson. “The extra padding and protection that the boots give is super important. Nobody likes a vet bill, so anything that’s going to prevent that, I think, is beneficial for anyone.”
Z Boots are not meant to be used as a treatment of any kind, rather a preventative measure to reduce the occurrence of potentially life-threatening injury, particularly where horse racing is permitted.
“A horse’s legs are his life and if there’s something that is happening that we can be aware of and that we can manage or put maintenance on, that really is our duty to give the horses the best thing because they will give us their all,” Wadman says.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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