Posted: 9th April 2020 | Back to news feed
Head collars are a piece of equipment used at least once daily by 88% of horse owners. For something that is being used so often, it’s surprising that it is difficult to find research into head collar safety, fit or design in the public domain.
We have all heard of horror stories where horses have pulled back and run off with what they were tied to, or when you’ve turned them out in the warmer months with a head collar on and they’ve managed to attach themselves to something in the field and panicked… So why hasn’t head collar safety been addressed in a scientific, measured and standardised way to help minimise the risk of accident and injury?
Head Collar Safety Survey
At Equilibrium Products, we believe in thorough research and testing before bringing a product to market. With this in mind, we commissioned Dr David Marlin to research head collar safety.
Out of 5615 respondents to a survey on head collars:
- 31% of horse owners have experienced a horse being injured as a result of using a head collar. Injuries ranged from rubs and cuts, all the way to fractures and fatal injuries.
- 75% of these injuries occurred when tied up (in the stable, outside the stable, in the lorry/trailer and travelling).
- 15% of people have been injured in a head collar related accident.
- The most shocking result of all is that there were 167 horse fatalities reported to be as a result of head collar related incident.
With no current safety standards or testing protocol for head collars combined with looking the results from the research, it clearly indicates that there is room for improvement, which has the potential to improve the safety and wellbeing of both horses and their handlers.
Head Collar Testing
There are a lot of different head collar designs, materials and safety systems. However, there doesn’t appear to be any published research where head collars have been tested in a systematic way.
With the help of Dr David Marlin, we tested a variety of ‘typical’ head collars including webbing and leather, through to rope head collars and foal slips and a variety of safety head collars. Each head collar was then suspended and attached to a rig, which applied a downward force. This force was incrementally increased and measured in kilograms, until the head collar broke or released. This was repeated six times for each head collar we tested. If it was a reusable safety head collar, these were re-used where possible.
The results showed a large variation with some safety devices releasing as low as 9kg, and at the other end of the results we saw some head collars were not breaking until over 600kg of downward force was applied – meaning the average sized horse could be suspended from the head collar without it breaking – a scary thought!
Realistically, there needs to be a balance. The horse needs a release point as low as possible to help reduce risk of injury, but for practicality and safe handling, the horse owner needs a higher release point so that they can maintain control of the horse while leading and carrying out everyday activities
Introducing the new Stellar™ Head Collar from Equilibrium Products
Taking your horse from field to stable to the showground, not only is Stellar a smart, first-class head collar, it has a re-usable release system too. A release system that is scientifically tested, with measurable and consistent results. The Stellar™ Head Collarwas also independently tested by Writtle University College for on a variety of horses for everyday activities.
The patent pending headpiece features adjustable press-stud fasteners and keepers on both sides of the head collar. The clever design allows the release system to have two settings, allowing the handler to use the setting appropriate for them. On average at the lower setting, position A, the headpiece released between 50-60kg of downward force in laboratory conditions. On the higher setting, position B, it released between 80-90kg. In an ideal world, we would recommend the lower setting should be used as much as possible, however the higher setting is there for situations where you need it.
Durable and weatherproof, the Stellar™ Head Collar is made from a smart leather-look synthetic material with padding on the nosepiece and headpiece offering maximum comfort. Adjustability at the headpiece and nosepiece allow for a great fit, with long-lasting stainless-steel fittings.
References: Survey of 5615 respondents, October 2019, Dr David Marlin.