A pocket sized Wind Meter

Vaavud, a start-up by three Danish Engineering students that distributes tiny wind meter supported on mobile phones. The Vaavud wind meter enables you to take precise and reliable measurements of the wind anywhere, using your iOS or Android phone. The handheld wind meter connected with the mobile device gives real-time wind speed graph on the gadget screen. The product is electronic free hardware, but wireless combined with the mobile application. The wind meter shape is an analogy of cup anemometers, but with two cups instead of three which makes the product pocket-friendly. The comparatively low-cost Vaavud wind meter works with iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, HTC One, Google Nexus 5 and iPads from 2 and onwards. Furthermore, it enables online sharing of recorded wind velocity by the customers across the world on a live map.

 As the product is electronics-free, it makes use of magnetic flux lines and its interference to identify and further measure the wind speed. The product consists of two tiny wind cups arranged in opposite to each other, connected by a middle stump attached with two small magnets. The middle stump connecting two cups consists of a rotor molded with low friction Teflon bearing. The magnetic field sensor in the phone can detect when they rotate, and by using algorithms normally used for sound processing, the rotations can be converted to wind speed. The product then communicates with the mobile app by means of sound waves and works on the basis of magnetic flux lines interruption. The sound waves are then converted to wind meter measurement.

 The on-screen viewing option provides an overview of average, actual and maximum wind speed and a real-time graph. The user can scroll and pinch-zoom on the graph if want to take a closer look at something. The wind velocity can be measured in different units and the available units: m/s, Km/h, mph, Kts and Bft. The live map gives users access to measurements and its details made by other Vaavud users globally. The Vaavud wind meter has a wind range of 2 to 20 m/s(Up to 24 m/s for iPhone 5S and up to 48 m/s on some Android phones). Precision is the least of +/- 4% or 0.2 m/s. Moreover, the cup-anemometer design ensures accurate measurement as the precision of the Vaavud wind meter is not affected by changes in wind direction.

 The Danish company raised Seed funding from a group of angel investors. The hobbyist as the primary audience, a product now targets at sailors, seawater adventurers, skydivers or to build out more services that appeal to business and enterprise. Its quite strange, but the audience list to the product consists of corporate clients from the agriculture industry. The company agreed a joint project with the Swedish agricultural coop Lantmännen Maskin AB  will to build a custom solution for measuring wind speed.

How Team Skills Influence your Your Horse Trail

If you maintain a positive attitude, it will be easier for your horse to focus.

Be committed towards success and be willing to work within your horse’s capacity to learn new skills regularly. Educating a great trail horse takes time, as much time as is necessary, which doesn’t mean 30-day increments. It may take years to develop the ultimate companion horse but it is well worth it.

Start with a single horse and rider and if all goes well, then move on to a group of two or three riding partners before joining a larger group. Introduce a new element of possibilities one at a time. Horses love security whether it is a familiar horse trail riding, or being in familiar company. If any of the elements change, be prepared for new or slightly different behavior from your horse.

Tip the herd dynamics scale

If you find that your horse has more problems with herd dynamics than you anticipated there are a few things that I have found useful. Get your horse comfortable working with other horses by trotting two or three around the round pen as described in Liberty Training II (issue).

Work a dominant horse in the round pen while mounted on a more timid horse. Go easy as the goal is to slowly herd the more dominant horse. Keep enough distance between horses to avoid being kicked and always carry a long whip for this exercise.

Tie horses that will be riding together in close proximity several times during the week for varying periods of time before riding them together.

The Human Equation

Choose riding partners carefully. Consider each horse/rider combination as a team. Choose the best team members you feel comfortable with, that you like and that you trust. In preparation for large equestrian trail riding, introduce trustworthy riding partners to your horse one at a time.

Planning helps to prevent long term problems, so get pertinent ride information before you commit to any group ride. Here are some examples: How many horses will be included? What is the level of difficulty for the trails that will be ridden? Are there ride rules or guidelines to help provide a safe atmosphere? Is there a ride steward or trail boss?

Be a defensive rider. Don’t assume that all riders or horses are courteous and well behaved. The nicest horse on the planet is capable of some surprising behavior when put in a new or stressful situation.

Be aware of your surroundings and of group dynamics at all times. Be constantly conscious of the change.

Pair up with an experienced horse and rider until your own horse is comfortable. If we take out more than one green (inexperienced) horse in a small equestrian group, we pair each green horse with a reliable horse.

Choose a human/horse teammate that will allow you to buddy up with if your horse needs a calming influence or even help in negotiating an obstacle.

If you have any doubt at all that you can control your horse in any situation that may arise, it means that you are probably not ready to join a group ride.

A great source of information for trail riders is “Trail Riding” by Rhonda Hart Poe. Study up on trail etiquette and observe it.

The goal of preparation is to help a horse develop the skills required to be a solid and steady mount in any situation. In other words, the Ultimate Companion Horse.

Is Your Horse Ready for a Group Trail Ride?

Group Options and Resources

The first logical requirement for group trail rides is having a reliable horse. If you haven’t invested in a dependable trail horse yet you may want to borrow a nice and reliable horse who is a seasoned veteran of group rides. This would also give you an opportunity to find an equestrian group or groups that you would feel comfortable with to plan future rides and even trips.

Not all group rides are equal! If you live in an area that has accessible trails and you know other folks with horses, you can organize your own group rides. If you don’t have horsey neighbors or are seeking new folks to ride with there are organized groups all over the country. In Texas, we have a great organization called Texas Equestrian Trail Riders Association (TETRA) and many other states have corresponding associations that you may join. (TB or TTUSA are great sources of information for your area)

What type of horse does it take?

If you are buying a horse, choose wisely, it is not just a monetary investment but an emotional one too which also carries physical ramifications in terms of your safety. If you already have a horse that you plan to ride on group rides, do an honest assessment of his skills; he may not be the perfect horse to enjoy group horse trail riding with.

The best trail horse candidates are confident individuals that have willing and generous natures. A horse with a confident nature can usually be trained or coached to do almost anything. Self-confidence will be a necessary trait for a horse ridden in group rides.

Not all horses are equal and some simply are not trailed, horse candidates. Some are just too nervous or timid and others are unsocial. Most trail problems stem from lack of confidence, which can manifest in behaviors such as jigging, shying, rearing and balking. Usually these problems can be corrected in a horse that has a confident nature; however, they are often very difficult to remedy in a horse that is by nature extremely nervous or insecure. Some timid and nervous horses can be taught a certain amount of confidence but there are individual horses that no (reasonable) amount of de-spooking or de-sensitizing will transform into safe or confident trail horses.

If you read “Buddy Bound” by Sean Patrick in last month’s TrailBlazer you will already have obtained some great insight into how to create a reliable companion horse. Sean (Patrick) clearly outlined strategies to correct the behaviors of a buddy-bound horse, which is great preparation for group rides. If you have a horse that suits your abilities and personality then you will need a checklist of skills that are needed for group riding and if you are purchasing a horse these same skills will apply to your shopping.

Group dynamics can greatly influence an individual horse’s concentration and in turn, his behavior. If your horse is proficient at the following skills, your chances for an enjoyable ride will be greatly increased.

Skills Required

Speed control, your horse should be obedient to pick up any speed that you ask and remain in it until asked to make a transition. Directional control, he should go where you ask him to go, willingly and without resistance and this includes forward or backing motion. Body control! This means his entire body; front end, middle section and hindquarters. In other words, is the maneuverable; will he let you guide his body especially in tight spots and on a variety of terrain?

Your trail horse should know several default behaviors or positions. The default behavior is a move or exercise that the horse knows very well and will perform on cue. Default moves that we like to use include the Park Out, the side pass, the Obeisance, shoulder-in, or even trotting circles. A horse can only concentrate on one thing at a time and if his concentration is on giving the default move or behavior that you ask, he will be less likely to engage in silliness. Of course, the type of terrain that you are on will dictate which defaults are useable in a particular instance. A narrow trail may prohibit a side pass but maybe a perfect place to ask for a few steps of shoulder-in or Spanish Walk. Engage the horse’s mind and his body to maintain control and good manners

Default moves are a form of manageable movement. It may take a few seconds or a few minutes to fully engage a horse’s mind even if his body is engaged. Plan ahead and decide what exercise helps your horse to relax and focus on you, his work, not on what other horses may be doing.

Play leapfrog with another horse or two (and rider) to get a horse acquainted with changing speeds and distances in a group. You can do this by one or two riders either walking quietly or standing while another trots or even lopes ahead a predetermined distance then, in turn, stand and wait for the others to catch up. Keep all horses involved in a clear vision of each other (at first) so keep separation stress to a minimum.

Displacing the hindquarters is a useful tactic when you need to gain control in a panic situation. Disengagement doesn’t really take power or energy away from the situation or the hindquarters, it only temporarily displaces it. If you need a few seconds delay time, by all means, displace the horse’s hind end but then immediately help him channel the energy forward with a meaningful exercise(s).

Learn to Dismount Safely in an Emergency

Nobody has to tell the horseback riders that the unexpected should be expected, or that the exception to the rule is the norm. We’ve seen it all, from crazy terrain in the backcountry to wild reactions from a horse. The trail can throw a lot of curveballs our way! To help us all stay safe, we will discuss a variety of situations that may or may not require a controlled, quick departure from the saddle.

Commit to the Ride

Most of the time, you are safer in the saddle. When I start colts I commit to the ride and do not look for a place to land or cloud my thoughts with “what if.” I confidently sit down and ride the horse. When jumps, side-steps and bucks happen, I stay centered and teach the horse that everything is still alright and I’m not going anywhere. This is not the time to bail. My horse gains confidence and I stay safe remaining balanced and mounted.

In order to continue building personal confidence in addition to a better equestrian trail riding seat, stay with horses that suit your ability and ride in areas that are easy to negotiate. With experience—time in the saddle—you can then recognize true danger. I used to ride with my boss’s brother. He was not an experienced horseman. At the first sign of “trouble” he would clasp his hands together and dive off the saddle onto the ground below. It actually became a bit funny to the rest of us. In my opinion he would have been better off committing to the ride.

The “Step Off”

To learn how to step off your horse quickly, focus on getting on better. In my training program I spend ample time doing “up downs.” This is a confidence-building exercise for the horse where I stay energized beside him and progressively mount the horse until both my legs are in the stirrups. This actually does a lot for the rider, since it teaches our body to both mount and dismount smoothly and quickly without pulling on the saddle. If you can get on with grace, you can most likely “step off” with some too.

When I trail ride I usually have a full rain suit, sweater and vest all rolled and tied behind the cantle in addition to saddle bags. These items can impede your leg from swinging off. Practice mounting and dismounting with “up downs” at home and make sure that you are confident and ready to react correctly when needed.

Helping the Horse

Sometimes you need to step off the horse to help him. A good example would be a horse that has sunken in a mud bog. Obviously, this was not a planned event, but now that you feel your horse unable to lift himself out of this sloppy footing, you can smoothly swing your leg over the cantle and stand beside him. This takes all that extra weight off him and allows him to hopefully regain his balance quickly. In this case you would not let go of your reins if you can help it. Once he is back on solid ground, take a moment and check him over letting him settle before you mount up again and move off.

Another example is when a horse stumbles from time to time. In almost all of these cases, staying on is the right answer. But, every once and a while, such as last week for me, a horse stumbles down to both knees. In this situation, you can quickly step off him and let him regain his legs from under him. This has happened to me in the snow, on rocks and with young horses that are on their first few rides. When a horse is stumbling it is not always helpful to offset your weight by trying to get off. Sometimes you can make it worse. Experience will help you decide.

For the Riders Sake

Stepping off the saddle quickly is best for your safety. An example might be a horse that is rearing up and might flip backwards. Nobody wants this to happen to them, but even good horses stumble on ground wasps from time to time. Again, experience will tell you if you should stay on or step down, but if you do decide to dismount, decide quickly. Lean forward and grab the mane as you swing your leg off and step down. And, if there are ground wasps, run for the water!

Another case where you might step off for your own safety is when a horse starts to buck on unsafe footing, such as rocks or near a cliff. If your horse sees sand or water and likes to drop and roll, be prepared to step off as this is not a safe type of reaction. I once rode a horse named Sampson that would drop in a small puddle if he was hot. I only stepped off him once and then watched as others found his quirk over the years.

Mountain Settings
On steep—severe—climbs I have never had a situation that warranted an emergency dismount. I have always felt safer staying centered and with the horse; whereas, on steep declines I have. Sometimes a long downhill trek can really shift your saddle up the horse’s neck. It’s usually by surprise, or else you would already be on foot. In this case stay very centered until you’re ready and then step off quickly to the high side of the trail. If you were to fall forward, it could be very dangerous. Remember, long downhill trails should be taken with the horse in hand. When you are on a sloped trail, where one side is high and the other drops off remember to step to the high side.

If you want to see a quick “step off” in action, watch a calf roper. Those boys swing off the saddle and hit the ground running. It takes a lot of dismounts to be that quick and smooth, but practice will prepare you for the time you need it most. Stay aware and attentive to your balance, your horse and the footing on the trail and remember that a swan dive is never the answer. Have fun and safe horse trail riding!