aNewDomain — Tail lights for horses? It sounds like a joke, but it’s not.
Think about it. Cars have built-in safety lights, but horses don’t.
Founder Sami Gros created Tail Lights Rider Safety System to protect humans and horses after her horse, Afar (pictured below with Gros), was hit by a car on a dusk ride seven years ago. She and a friend had put lights on their saddles and were wearing lighted vests, and they were even underneath a street light when a car hit Afar’s hind legs. The rider wasn’t hurt, but Afar had torn ligaments and chipped bones in both hind legs. His veterinary bills exceeded $10,000, and he can no longer be ridden.
Since the accident was a hit and run, Gros was stuck paying all those bills. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, she sprang into action to make sure no other horses or riders got injured for taking a night ride.
Gros quickly discovered that no system was out there to light a horse at night. So she created an LED front and tail light safety system. Tail Lights Pro launched in 2013 for mounted patrols. And last month she launched a consumer version on Kickstarter. The campaign runs until the morning of December 10, so if you are a dusk rider, now is the time to act to snag the system at a fraction of its $270 retail price. There is also a version of the system packaged on Kickstarter as an option for bicyclists and hikers.
The Kickstarter campaign goal was $18,500, and backers have already invested more than twice that amount. For a limited time, you can also get the consumer version for a pre-release price of $225. Gros hopes to get the product onto some horses’ tails this month, by Christmas.
The system includes front and tail light units, a tail wrap, a remote control and a rechargeable battery pack with six light color options and modes that include steady and flashing.
But do horses like it? “I’ve put it on every single horse I can get my hands on. It is designed with the safety and comfort of horses in mind. It moves with the tail, so it’s not uncomfortable.” She’s tried it on hundreds of horses without a single “Nay.”
Here’s what the front light looks like on a horse.
The Tail Lights Pro system is used by mounted patrols in the U.S. and Canada, including Albuquerque and Calgary, Halifax and Cheboygan. LAPD is currently testing it. The Ventura Sheriff’s Department and Montana Gallatin Canyon Mounted Patrol are acquiring funding to purchase the Pro system.
Sergeant Jeremy Bassett of the Albuquerque Police Department first saw Tail Lights Pro at a trade show for mounted patrols, and he answered a few questions by email.
At first, I said there is no way I am putting those lights on my horses; typical old cowboy thinking. However, I am always looking for ways to improve the safety of my officers and horses. That night I could not stop thinking about one of my officers who was almost hit by a drunk driver in the downtown bar district the month prior. I thought about how many times we have had ‘close calls’ with vehicles almost hitting us while on patrol at night.
The next day I bought ten units to try on our horses. It has been the best and safest investment when it comes to night time safety for my officers and horses. Not only do people in vehicles see us extremely well, but our helicopter can pick us up and guide us to specific locations, too. The greatest result, other than much safer conditions at night, is the reaction from the public. They absolutely love them. These lights have increased the safety of my officers and horses at night so much, that they are no longer allowed to patrol or conduct any functions at night without them on. I have even purchased them for my wife and kids to use while riding in the dusk and evening hours,” said Bassett via email.
So should any casual night riders make the investment? Sgt. Bassett recommends Tail Lights to anyone that rides at dusk or night. “The increase in visibility and safety these lights provide cannot be measured, it is so great. They also work great on carriages, carts, and wagons. They are a showstopper during parades, special events and during the holidays. The public loves them because they are so ‘cool’; I love them because of how much safer my officers and horses are with them on,” wrote Sgt. Bassett.
Here’s the video Gros created for the Tail Lights Consumer Kickstarter campaign where she shows off how the product works.
All images: Courtesy of Tail Lights. All rights reserved.
For aNewDomain, I’m Terry Gardner.