Is your tail light out?
Leslie Potter |
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
A couple of months ago, we ran a news item here on HorseChannel about rider safety at night. A survey of riders conducted in the UK found that neon clothing and even reflective tape on tack or riding clothes did not reduce the risk of having a close encounter with a car when riding along public roads. Wearing lights, however, did.
I think riding on roadways is less common in the U.S. than across the pond, but plenty of us still do it from time to time. And it can be a little scary. Yes, there are some drivers out there who are just plain inconsiderate and don't think they should have to share the roads with horses (or cyclists or pedestrians.) Fortunately, they're in the minority, but there are still drivers who may not know what to do when they encounter a horse. A lot of times, drivers aren't expecting to see horses and even if they know to give plenty of space, they won't see the horse in time to do it. This is especially true at dusk or after sunset.
You can find lots of lighted gear typically designed for pedestrians. LED lights that can attach to your jacket are pretty easy to come by and not too expensive. I even saw some pretty cool LED collars on a late trip to the dog park a couple of weeks ago. Lighted safety gear for horses and riders seems like a logical next step. Enter Tail Lights.
As she says in the video, the inventor of Tail Lights was inspired by the harrowing experience of seeing her horse hit by a car while her friend was riding it. Unfortunately, her experience is hardly unique. Nearly everyone in the horse world knows someone who has had a close encounter with a car while out riding.
Unlike existing options adapted for equestrian use, Tail Lights look like they're really made with horses and riders in mind. The neoprene wrap looks like it would be secure and comfortable. The lights are waterproof, so if you find yourself caught in a downpour or at a water crossing, you don't need to worry. I do wonder about that battery pack. You'd need to have some sort of cantle bag, and the optional gear bag that you can get with the lights looks like it might bounce around a bit, which not every horse will tolerate. The video also only shows the lights in use with western saddles. A quick search online shows that there are plenty of English cantle bags on the market, but without seeing them and the Tail Lights in person, it's hard to know if they'd work.
Nevertheless, I think these lights are a great idea. The inventor has pitched them on Kickstarter, a website that allows inventors, artists, filmmakers, etc. market their ideas directly to their potential customers. Instead of having to go into the proverbial shark tank and find one wealthy backer for their idea, they find hundreds or even thousands of people who like what they're pitching and help with a few bucks. In exchange, the person running the Kickstarter usually offers incentives. For example, if you donate $30 to Tail Lights' Kickstarter, you'll get a t-shirt. Bump that up to $160 and you'll be one of the first people to get your own set of Tail Lights as soon as they go into production. There are several other options at various price points.
Kickstarter and other similar sites really allow people to vote with their dollar by supporting things that are important to them. Based on the most popular (read: well-funded) Kickstarter projects, video games are super important. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but I hate to think that horse people are missing out on a great tool like Kickstarter, and in turn some wonderful equestrian projects that might come from it, just because we'd rather be out on the trails than sitting at our computers.
But all that aside, the Tail Lights seem like a good solution for a problem that we know exists. Even if you don't ride on the roads, maybe you know someone who does.
Would you use something like this? Have you ever had a close encounter on the roads? Have you ever backed a Kickstarter project? Let me know in the comments section.
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Is your tail light out?