FAQs

What is the problem?

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, foaling, and being cast that can negatively impact your horse and result in unnecessary downtime, injury, or loss if not detected and addressed early.

Colic is the leading natural cause of death in horses, and it is estimated that more than 720,000 horses in the US will experience an episode of colic this year and more than 50,000 will die. 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.



How do I know if my horse is in distress?

The vital signs of a horse, coupled with its behavior, correlate with their wellbeing and may be indicative of pain or distress. Pain or distress is evidenced by measurable changes in their vital signs (ie, heart rate, respiration) and their activity level or behavior (eg, pawing, kicking, rising/falling, rolling +/- thrashing). When this occurs, intervention is needed to assess severity and determine whether or not the horse needs to be referred to a veterinarian.

What is NIGHTWATCH®?

The NIGHTWATCH® smart halter™ is an equine distress & wellness monitor that offers automated alerts and objective insight for your performance, pregnant, and high-risk horses.

This all-natural leather breakaway halter is made from 1" premium appointment-quality, triple-stitched, Havana brown bridle leather with 18/8 stainless steel hardware, including a double-buckle crown and snap throatlatch with rolled leather. Made for both safety and comfort, the smart halter™ is embedded with ~2.1 ounces of technology to monitor real-time data on your horse's biometrics (heart rate and respiration) and behavior (activity level); alerts you via text, phone, and email; works across 3G cellular and 2.4 GHz WiFi networks; offers GPS/geolocation; and leverages artificial intelligence/machine learning to adapt to your horse over time for maximum precision and benefit. Access to real-time and historical information, including your horse's EDI® score, is available on demand 24/7 from our mobile App, available in the App Store and on Google Play.

This patented technology (US patent nos. 9,629,340, 9,894,885, 10,154,655; AU patent no. 2015218807) is offered in the United States and Canada by Protequus®.



Who is using NIGHTWATCH®?

NIGHTWATCH® is the complete at-home, in-field, and in-clinic equine distress & wellness monitoring system for horse owners, trainers, breeders, and veterinarians to use on high-risk, pregnant, and performance horses in the United States and Canada. From single horse owners and veterinary clinics to large multi-national breeding and training programs, NIGHTWATCH® is a tool that can add value to equine operations of all sizes.



How do I use NIGHTWATCH® for my performance horse?

Use smart alerts overnight to be alerted to early signs of distress in your race or show horse to avoid unnecessary downtime, injury, or loss, all while tailoring their daily training based upon overnight activity and general wellbeing. Review your horse’s overnight activity index to identify hyperactivity that may result in sub-optimal performance on the track or in the ring.



How do I use NIGHTWATCH® for my pregnant mare?

Use smart or manual alerts 30 days prior to foal date and continue for at least 90 days thereafter to monitor your pregnant mare for complications before, during, and after foaling, and to be alerted to early signs of birth/parturition. To enable smart alerts, select an EDI® score on the scale (1=low distress, 10=high distress) representing degree of deviation in your horse’s normal physiology. Alternatively, enable manual alerts to set your own threshold for any of the 3 parameters (ie, heart rate, respiration, activity level).



How do I use NIGHTWATCH® for my high-risk horse?

Use manual alerts as needed to monitor and share objective biometric and behavior insight with your careteam for more informed decision making regarding your senior, sick, injured, or post-operative horse, those who crib, windsuck, or weave, and any horse acting suspicious or unusual. If your horse has not yet established a personalized distress model, then only manual alerts will be available to you. To receive automated alerts immediately out-of-the-box, enable manual alerts and set your own threshold for any of the 3 parameters (ie, heart rate, respiration, activity level). This will allow you to bypass the learning period that is required for smart alerts.

How does NIGHTWATCH® work?

NIGHTWATCH® uses a variety of sensors to collect real-time data on your horse’s vital signs and behavior, 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, call, and/or email so you can intervene sooner.



What vital signs does NIGHTWATCH® monitor?

NIGHTWATCH® uses novel radiofrequency technology (ie, ultra-wideband impulse radar [UWB-IR]) to monitor your horse’s heart rate and respiration, the two most important vital signs that correlate with pain and 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 heart rate and respiration.



What behavior does NIGHTWATCH® monitor?

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 pain or 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.



What is the Equine Distress Index®?

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.



What is my horse’s EDI® score?

Your horse’s EDI® score is an objective measure of their relative distress and general wellbeing 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.



What is the difference between smart and manual alerts?

NIGHTWATCH® offers two types of alerts (sent via text, phone, and email): smart and manual.

Smart Alerts: When smart alerts are enabled, the system monitors for deviation in your horse’s normal physiologic parameters (i.e., biometrics, behavior) that correlate with pain and distress. However, smart alerts are 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 (eg, at home in their stall) vs in an elevated distress state (eg, away, in transit, or sick).

Manual Alerts: When manual alerts are enabled, you have the ability set your own threshold(s) for any of the 3 parameters (ie, heart rate, respiration, and activity level) to trigger an alert. By enabling manual alerts, you can utilize your device immediately out-of-the-box and bypass the learning period that is required for smart alerts.

I am concerned about leaving a halter on my horse overnight.

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 as 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.



Is NIGHTWATCH® safe?

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 for several years.



Do I need WiFi in my barn for NIGHTWATCH® to work?

Although your NIGHTWATCH® device has the ability to connect and transmit data over both WiFi (2.4 GHz) and cellular (3G) networks, you do not need WiFi in your barn for NIGHTWATCH® to operate properly. However, you will need to periodically connect your device to a WiFi network (while charging) for routine firmware updates to address bugs, security issues, performance improvements, and new features; the same process you likely do for your smart phone. NOTE: Your smart halter™ can store the credentials for several WiFi networks (like your smart phone), so you only need to connect your device to each network once.



I live in an area with low cellular signal. Will NIGHTWATCH® still work?

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 (2.4 GHz) 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 WiFi network while charging for routine firmware updates to address bugs, security issues, performance improvements, and new features; the same process you likely do for your smart phone.



Do I need to be near my smart halter™ for it to work?

No, you do not need to be in close proximity to your smart halter™ to receive alerts or access information via the NIGHTWATCH® App. As long as your smart halter™ has connectivity, it can issue alerts and push updates to your horse's NIGHTWATCH® profile.



How does NIGHTWATCH® learn my horse?

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 pain or distress that 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.



How does NIGHTWATCH® notify a caretaker?

When predefined threshold(s) for either smart or manual alerts are breached, NIGHTWATCH® will alert you and others via text, call, and email simultaneously as a broadcast until the alert notification is acknowledged. To acknowledge an alert, launch the App, select the horse, and tap acknowledge. If an alert is not acknowledged within 60 minutes, the device will reset itself. 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.



How is NIGHTWATCH® powered?

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.



How often do I have to recharge my NIGHTWATCH® halter?

NIGHTWATCH® offers approximately 12 hours of power with normal use and will need to be recharged daily. Each charge cycle is estimated to be 3 hours. To conserve power, the device will automatically go into a sleep mode when it is not being worn by your horse (ie, is motionless) and is not on the charger. Each NIGHTWATCH® halter has a magnetic charging port and comes with a UL-certified charging cable and USB wall adapter.



How can I view my horse’s data?

You can view real-time and historical information on your horse via the NIGHTWATCH® App, which is available in the App Store and on Google Play. In addition, you can provide shared access with other careteam members, such as your veterinarian, trainer, et al.



Can I share information from my smart halter™ with others?

Yes, you can provide shared access to your horse’s NIGHTWATCH® profile with other careteam members, such as your veterinarian, trainer, et al via the NIGHTWATCH® App.



Can I use the same NIGHTWATCH® halter on multiple horses?

Yes, you can use a single NIGHTWATCH® smart halter™ among multiple horses by transferring it via the NIGHTWATCH® App. However, to maximize precision and benefit, we recommend consistent, long-term use on a single horse so a personalized distress algorithm can be created and continually updated as the system adapts and conforms to their unique biometric and behavioral parameters.



How do I know NIGHTWATCH® is working?

A LED on your NIGHTWATCH® smart halter™ is integrated into the stainless ID plate and serves as a visual indicator of either your horse's health status or operational state of your device. You can also log into your account via the NIGHTWATCH® App to view device and/or horse details at any time.



Does my NIGHTWATCH® smart halter™ require any special care?

The NIGHTWATCH® smart halter™ 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 bridle leather from Wickett & Craig that has been hand-selected by Freedman’s. Bridle leather is a traditional cowhide used in a variety of applications, from classic equestrian tack to high-end leather goods. Drum dyed and hot stuffed, bridle leather is smooth and flexible yet durable.



What if my smart halter™ breaks?

Should your NIGHTWATCH® smart halter™ become inoperable or damaged outside the parameters of our warranty and return policy, a repair and service program is available by contacting customer care at 800-757-3856 or email us at support@protequus.com.



Where can I buy NIGHTWATCH®?

NIGHTWATCH® is offered exclusively by Protequus® and can only be purchased online at smarthalter.com or by calling customer care at 800-757-3856.



What does the NIGHTWATCH® monitoring service/license agreement offer me?

Each NIGHTWATCH® smart halter™ requires a monitoring plan for real-time analysis; cellular connectivity (up to 1 GB/mo); text, call, and email alerts; and personalized distress algorithms. You and any additional careteam members have FREE access to the NIGHTWATCH® App for on-demand insight. Periodic access to WiFi (2.4 GHz) is REQUIRED for routine firmware updates to address bugs, security issues, performance improvements, and new features.



Do I need to purchase a data plan to use NIGHTWATCH®?

No, you do not need to purchase additional data plans to use NIGHTWATCH®. Access to the 3G cellular network via an embedded cellular SIM is included in our monitoring plan (annual or monthly options available).



Will NIGHTWATCH® be available outside the US and Canada?

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.



Is NIGHTWATCH® offered in multiple sizes?

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 bridle leather with 18/8 stainless steel hardware, including a double-buckle crown and snap throatlatch.



What size NIGHTWATCH® smart halter™ does my horse need?

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). Draft and pony sizing are not available at this time.

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” versus our fixed-chin halter.



Where is NIGHTWATCH® made?

Our handcrafted smart halters™ are designed and manufactured in Toronto, Canada and Rochester, New York, while all other operations are in Austin, Texas.


What is your customer care policy?

We are committed 100% to customer satisfaction. If you are unsatisfied in any way with your NIGHTWATCH® halter, please call customer care at 800-757-3856 M-F (8:30 am to 5:30 pm CST) or email us at support@protequus.com.


What is the Referral Rewards Program?

The Referral Rewards Program (RRP) is an invitation-only program for veterinarians and trainers to proactively foster a dialogue with those who may have appropriate horse(s) who can derive benefit from the smart halter™. If you're interested in enrolling in the RRP and becoming an ambassador, please contact us at info@protequus.com.


Who is Protequus®?

Protequus® is a biomedical engineering and data science firm in Austin, Texas dedicated to equine health & safety and the developers of the NIGHTWATCH® smart halter™. 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. Protequus® is committed to transforming equine health & performance outcomes through data science and predictive analytics.