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spoga horse TOP INNOVATIONS 2021 - A stage for creativity

In these times, some wheels may stand still, but not the brains of product developers. Spoga horse 2021 will soon be the digital premiere stage for the new products that bring more safety, more fun or more sustainability.

Here, the "Spoga horse TOP INNOVATIONS " selected by an international jury will be given a particularly brightly lit showcase. The Latin "innovare" means "to renew" - and sums up in one word what the new spoga horse TOP INNOVATIONS are all about: An innovation doesn't always have to be the whole big thing - like a completely new product - even a detail improvement can make daily life easier for animals and people.

Foto: Bram Chardon

Foto: Bram Chardon

Bram Chardon, son of the Dutch stable owner family Chardon and internationally successful four-in-hand driver (European Championship winner 2019), is a member of the jury for TOP INNOVATIONS 2021. Together with six other horse people, he is looking for the pearls of creativity and flashes of engineering genius. In conversation with spoga horse, he pleads for open eyes, a willingness to learn and the constant will to improve.

spoga horse: What does innovation mean to you as a professional athlete, trainer and stable operator?

Bram Chardon: I don't see the topic of innovation as being limited to products. Innovation is the essence of riding and driving as a whole.

Our sport is based on change and improvement: in the horse, in the rider, in stable management, in training methods, equipment, feeding and veterinary medicine. Riding and handling horses is a constant process of learning and improvement. You must be ready to learn, always keep your eyes open and stay open-minded. This is true for me every day.

spoga horse: In the world of horses and riding , what are the most important innovations in in recent years for you - and why?

Bram Chardon: From my experience, bigger changes and innovations are rather difficult for horses. That is why I am basically a friend of detailed improvements. Many things work easier if you introduce them carefully and step by step into the training or into the daily life of horses.

A lot of positive things have happened in the areas of stable management, health care and treatment of horses. For me, one of the most valuable innovations of the last few years is my Haygain hay dusting/steaming equipment, which I can even take to shows, ensuring my horses the same safe and clean hay quality they are used to.

I also think the airbag for riders is great, offered for example by Helite, Horse Pilot or USG - this is a huge safety aspect, not only in professional sports.

Foto: Bram Chardon

Foto: Bram Chardon

A rather unspectacular but important innovation for mass sports are riding helmets specifically for women. GPA was the pioneer here, but quite a few other companies have also recognised that women simply often can't cope with a unisex helmet.

spoga horse: Do you see any megatrend in innovation in recent years?

Bram Chardon: The most important topics of the last decades are safety and horse welfare - mostly, of course, they go hand in hand. The horse is seen with different eyes today: rather as a sports partner and friend. This includes stable and homing issues, but also safety during training and competition. Especially in competition sports, I find some things indispensable - like the flexible hurdle elements, offering much more safety for both horse and rider. To me, it also makes sense to move away from the classic dressage cylinder in competitions, as a modern helmet is simply much safer for the athlete. The airbag I mentioned – or the safety stirrup ¬– are also part of it and are really great for recreational riders as well.

spoga horse: Are there any product areas in which you would like to see more innovations - and why?

Bram Chardon: For the future, I would like to see ideas for more affordable medical diagnosis and care for horses, ensuring that the best possible treatment for sick and injured horses does not remain a question of money. Our horses can't talk when something is wrong, and accurate diagnosis is very expensive. So, for the good of our animal partners, it would be nice if medical diagnosis and treatment were easy and feasible on site at the stables for really every horse owner - instead of always needing an extremely expensive stay at the clinic.

Foto: Bram Chardon

Foto: Bram Chardon

spoga horse: What role does spoga horse play as a meeting place for the industry, sportspeople and trade when it comes to innovations?

Bram Chardon: The coming together of the community and the exchange at spoga horse stimulates innovations, brings new ideas and motivates everyone who can be there. 2021 will be an unusual and certainly less exciting trade show year - on the other hand, the online format is also easily accessible to all participants without a lot of effort and expense, that's the positive thing about it.

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to 2022 when a real trade show will take place again on site in Cologne and the whole community can celebrate this wonderful sport together.

An innovation is a good idea that is implemented to market maturity and economic success. The equestrian industry needs good ideas: Let's look forward to the top innovations that will make their debut at the upcoming spoga horse!

What are innovations all about? The opinions of the spoga horse TOP INNOVATIONS jury:

"When you spend many hours with horses and training, you realise that the right equipment and set-up is extremely important. Innovation doesn't have to be a new groundbreaking product; even a small adjustment can make a product more functional. In my opinion, it's often the smaller innovations that deliver the best results."

Christina Møller
Member of the management board at Danish online shop Horseworld Rideudstyr

"Nativehorses" bloggers Bettina Rittler and Tanja Riedinger see the megatrend of the industry in the advancing digitalization of training and education - and cite the CavaLearn platform by Arien Aguilar and Saskia Limbeck as an example: A professional training platform that counters the countless and qualitatively very different free offers on YouTube and Co. with high-quality and well-founded training options.

But the two bloggers also see positive things happening on a smaller scale: asked about their personal favorite innovations, riding leggings are at the top of the list because of their great comfort gain.

Judy Ann Melchior, manager of the Belgian stud Zangersheide, is always on the lookout for innovative technologies: "There are further developments in so many areas, and each one is exciting. For example, we have been working with international laboratories for a very long time and apply new procedures such as transplanting embryos and cloning horses at our stud. The theme of innovation runs like a thread through the history of Zangersheide."

"Innovations in our industry are the basis for an ever better coexistence between horse and rider. It makes living together with our horses easier. Our horses live longer and healthier lives when we expand our know-how and translate this into products and applications. Great innovations that focus on the welfare of horses are an important sign of respect towards these magnificent animals."

Arnd Wiegler
Managing Director of Equiva