Equine distress can present in many ways and stem from many factors including injury, trauma, illness, fear, and boredom. There are a number of common equine distress conditions, including colic, being cast, and foaling, that can negatively impact your horse and result in serious injury or death if not detected and addressed early.
Colic is the leading natural cause of death in horses, and the AAEP estimates that more than 900,000 horses in the US will experience an episode of colic this year. However, if caught early 85-90% of these cases can be treated medically and without the need for invasive and costly surgery. Unfortunately, we can't always be there with our horses, especially overnight, to catch the signs.
The vital signs of a horse, coupled with its posture and actions/movements can directly correlate with their well-being and behaviors that are indicative of danger/distress (eg, colic, being cast) or other conditions where intervention may be warranted (eg, foaling). When a horse is experiencing colic or is cast, the animal will be in a distressed state as evidenced by measurable changes in their vital signs (eg, heart rate, respiratory rate), posture (eg, recumbency), and repeated characteristic motion patterns (eg, pawing, kicking, rising/falling, rolling +/- thrashing). When this occurs, intervention is needed immediately to assess the severity of distress and determine whether or not to refer to a veterinary clinic.
NIGHTWATCH® is the World's first smart halter™ designed to alert you via text, voice, and email to early signs of danger/distress in your horse, such as colic, being cast, and foaling.
This revolutionary IoT-enabled device (US patent nos. 9,629,340, 9,894,885, 10,154,655) monitors real-time data on your horse’s vital signs and behaviors, works across 3G/cellular and WiFi networks, offers GPS tracking, and leverages artificial intelligence/machine learning to adapt to your horse over time for maximum precision and benefit. All electronics (eg, sensors, microprocessors, transceivers, batteries) are non-invasively embedded within the padded leather crown of each halter making NIGHTWATCH® safe and comfortable for long-term use in a variety of conditions. Access to real-time insight and historical information, including your horse's EDI® score, is available on-demand 24/7 from any smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Why do I need NIGHTWATCH®?
Most horses spend a significant amount of time each day unsupervised, especially overnight, which is when many horses can experience distress. For this reason, we invented NIGHTWATCH®, an early-warning system that acts like a personal security system for your horse’s health. It is our hope that the introduction of NIGHTWATCH® will allow for earlier intervention by caretakers resulting in improved survival and quality of life outcomes in many horses.
Yes, NIGHTWATCH® can be used on broodmares who are about to foal because the system detects changes in their biometrics, which is often observed in 85-90% of broodmares during foaling, as well as changes in their activity, motion, and posture. However, because we are still evaluating the full potential of NIGHTWATCH® as an early-warning system for foaling, we recommended its use in conjunction with other foaling protocols.
NIGHTWATCH® uses a variety of sensors to collect real-time data on your horse’s vital signs and behaviors, while advanced computational software analyzes this data and calculates a quantifiable measure of their relative distress (ie, EDI® score) on a 10-point scale. When a user-defined threshold of distress is breached, NIGHTWATCH® will alert you via text, voice, and email so you can intervene sooner.
NIGHTWATCH® uses novel radiofrequency technology (ie, ultra-wideband impulse radar [UWB-IR]) to monitor your horse’s heart rate and respiratory rate, the two most important vital signs that correlate with pain and acute distress in horses. UWB-IR is a safe and very low energy radio frequency technology that measures physical changes in the vasculature and soft tissue beneath your horse's skin that correlate with their HR and RR.
NIGHTWATCH® uses a variety of sensors, including an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, and an altimeter to continuously assess your horse’s activity, motion, and posture. More specifically, NIGHTWATCH® identifies and flags (for evaluation) first-time novel events that may be indicative of distress along with known movements that likely correlate with distress such as pawing, kicking, flank watching, repeated rising/falling, extended periods of recumbency, violent rolling with/without thrashing, etc
The EDI® (Equine Distress Index®) is a proprietary 10-point scale, offered only by NIGHTWATCH®, used to quantify relative distress in your horse. The lower your horse’s EDI® score, the happier and healthier they are.
Your horse’s EDI® score is an objective measure of their relative distress and general well-being at any given point in time. This score is a composite value derived from multiple parameters, including biometric and behavioral inputs, environmental conditions, pre-existing risk factors, and more using a proprietary Fuzzy Inference System.
NIGHTWATCH® offers two alert modes, smart and manual.
Smart Mode: When your device is placed in the smart mode, the system is looking for deviation in your horse’s normal physiologic parameters (i.e., biometrics, behaviors) that correlate with pain and distress. However, smart mode is only available after the system learns and establishes these baseline parameters, which requires a “learning” period of up to 30 days depending upon their unique profile and total time spent wearing their NIGHTWATCH® device. NOTE: Learning period requires your horse to be healthy and in their normal and natural environment (e.g., at home in their stall) vs in an elevated distress state (e.g., away, in transit, or sick).
Manual Mode: When your device is placed in manual mode, you have the ability set your own thresholds for any of the 4 parameters (i.e., HR, RR, rolls, recumbency) to trigger an alert. By placing your device in the manual mode, you can utilize your device immediately out-of-the-box and bypass the “learning” period that is required in the smart mode.
NIGHTWATCH® is equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) allowing you to pinpoint the location of your horse in the US and Canada. This is especially helpful for competition horses who travel often and for young horses who like to play and remove tack while turned out. In this latter event if the halter is removed, GPS will allow you to locate and recover the device provided it is powered on, there is sufficient battery, and there is a relatively clear line of site to the satellite.
We recognize some equestrians may have apprehension leaving a halter on a horse overnight or for an extended period of time, especially when they are unsupervised. For this reason, NIGHTWATCH® halters have been specifically designed to have multiple breakaway points because we want to do everything within reason to reduce the likelihood of causing harm. Due to the low break-point of all-natural leather vs nylon, we DO NOT RECOMMEND using any NIGHTWATCH® crown in conjunction with a nylon halter.
NIGHTWATCH® is safe and complies with the limits for a Class B digital device, pursuant to Part 15 of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules. NIGHTWATCH® further ensures compliance with Industry Canada (IC) license-exempt RSS standards, PTCRB/CTIA certification standards, and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) 60950 product safety standards. NIGHTWATCH® was developed under the expert guidance of veterinarians and has been tested on many horses of various breeds and sizes across the United States.
Although your NIGHTWATCH® device has the ability to connect and transmit data over both WiFi and cellular (3G) networks, you do not need WiFi in your barn for NIGHTWATCH® to work. However, you will need to periodically connect your device to a local WiFi network while charging for firmware updates; the same process you likely do for your smart phone.
There may be some areas in the US and Canada with limited cellular (3G) coverage. However, unlike voice transmission, NIGHTWATCH® requires only minimal cellular signal for transmission of data when not connected to a WiFi network. For areas with insufficient 3G/GSM cellular data coverage (eg, AT&T, T-Mobile, and regional providers), we recommend you have NIGHTWATCH® connected to a WiFi network at all times as well as consider a wireless repeater/amplifier. NOTE: You will need to periodically connect your NIGHTWATCH® device to a local WiFi network while charging for firmware updates; the same process you likely do for your smart phone.
Every horse is different, which is why NIGHTWATCH® leverages artificial intelligence/machine learning to learn your horse's unique physiology, to adapt to them over time, and to identify novel events that may be indicative of danger/distress and warrant the attention of a caretaker. The longer your horse wears their NIGHTWATCH® device, the more refined and precise their personal distress algorithm will become.
When distress is detected, NIGHTWATCH® will alert you and up to 4 others via text, voice, and email simultaneously as a broadcast until the alert notification is acknowledged. A status LED on the ID plate of each NIGHTWATCH® halter further offers a visual indicator of your horse’s relative distress. Just look for the green light for reassurance your horse is happy and within their normal/non-distress state.
NIGHTWATCH® is powered by three rechargeable lithium-polymer (LiPo) batteries, which are not the same as lithium-ion batteries. By comparison LiPo batteries are thinner, more lightweight, and safer than lithium-ion batteries, but they do cost more to manufacture and do not have the same energy density.
With normal use, NIGHTWATCH® will need to be recharged daily. Each charge cycle is estimated to be 3-4 hours. To conserve the battery, the device will automatically go into a “sleep” mode when it is not being worn by your horse. Each NIGHTWATCH® halter has a magnetic charging port and comes with a UL-certified charging cable with USB wall adapter.
You can view real-time insight and historical information on your horse on after logging into your account at smarthalter.com from any smartphone, tablet, or computer to view the state of the device and horse at any time.
A status LED on your NIGHTWATCH® halter displays the operational and battery state of the device. You can also log into your account at smarthalter.com from any smartphone, tablet, or computer to view the state of the device and/or horse at any time.
No, you cannot use the same NIGHTWATCH® halter on multiple horses at the same time because each NIGHTWATCH® smart device is adaptive and designed to conform to one particular horse over time. To maximize precision and benefit, proprietary distress algorithms are continuously being updated as each NIGHTWATCH® halter learns your horse’s unique biometric and behavioral parameters.
Yes, you can transfer your NIGHTWATCH® halter to a different horse at any time by calling Customer Care to reset your device. Once reset, you will no longer have access to data on original horse.
NIGHTWATCH® is durable, but does contain sensitive electronic components so appropriate care should be given to ensure longevity and proper functionality. Although all embedded technology is enclosed within a flexible, water- and dust-resistant enclosure, excessive water exposure and submersion should be avoided. Each halter is constructed using all-natural English Bridle leather from Wickett & Craig that has been hand-selected by Freedman’s. English Bridle is a traditional leather (cow hide) used in a variety of applications, from classic equestrian tack to high-end leather goods. Drum dyed and hot stuffed, English Bridle is smooth, flexible yet durable.
Each NIGHTWATCH® smart halter™ requires a monitoring plan, which will be charged monthly ($39.99/mo) or annually ($359.99/yr) until cancelled. Each plan allows for real-time analysis; cellular connectivity (up to 1 GB/mo); text, voice, and email alerts; a personalized distress algorithm; and access to the NIGHTWATCH® app. Periodic access to WiFi is REQUIRED for routine firmware updates to address bugs, security issues, performance improvements, and new features.
NIGHTWATCH® is currently available for horses domiciled within the US and Canada. However, we are working to make this groundbreaking technology available in other countries/regions outside of North America. Check back for more updates.
NIGHTWATCH® breakaway halters are offered in 3 sizes with fixed or optional adjustable chins. Each smart device is made from only premium appointment quality 1” Havana-brown leather with 18/8 stainless steel hardware, including a double-buckle crown and snap throat latch.
Most horses (15.1-16.1 hands; 1,000-1,200 lbs) will best fit in a Standard sized halter, whereas smaller horses (14.1-15.1 hands; 800-1,000 lbs) such as Arabians, Morgans, and yearlings may be better suited for a Cob. Oversize halters are available for larger breeds (over 16.1 hands; >1,200 lbs), while heavy horses and draft breeds can be accommodated through a custom order.
To select the best size for your horse, we recommend you obtain two measurements as seen in this halter sizing guide. Begin by measuring the circumference of your horse's muzzle approximately 1" below their cheekbone. Second, measure the length of their head from cheekbone to cheekbone over the poll and behind the ears. Still unsure? Call Customer Care and we can walk you through the process and provide a recommendation.
Adjustable Chin (optional): To accommodate a diverse range of breeds, we offer an adjustable chin upgrade for each NIGHTWATCH® halter. The adjustable chin allows you to increase or decrease the circumference up to 1.5” in either direction versus our fixed-chin halter.
Browband (optional): Further fit refinements may be achieved through the use of our optional browband. The browband is designed to help stabilize your halter and minimize potential rubbing on horses with sensitive skin. Browbands are offered in three sizes (14", 14.5", 15") and representative of the inside loop-to-loop length. See our sizing guides for more details.
Our handcrafted halters and collars are designed and manufactured in Toronto, Canada and Rochester, New York, while all other operations are in Austin, Texas.
We are committed 100% to customer satisfaction. If you are unsatisfied in anyway with your NIGHTWATCH® halter, please call us at 800-757-3856 M-F (8:30 am to 5:30 pm CST) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Protequus® is a biomedical engineering and data science firm in Austin, Texas dedicated to equine health & safety and the developers of NIGHTWATCH®. Founded in 2013 after the sudden loss of one of his horses to colic, Jeffrey R. Schab—an accomplished equestrian and biomedical engineer—assembled a team of passionate science & technology professionals to find a solution to combat the devastating impact of colic, which claims the lives of ~50,000 horses each year in the US and results in more than $700 million in annual losses. Today, that solution is known as NIGHTWATCH®, the world’s first smart halter™.