Around the Water Trough

Protequus® is driven by integrity, innovation, and ingenuity.

Contributed by Around the Water Trough


Zully Martinez, at TIEC

Out of tragedy, Jeffrey Schab hopes to help save the lives of horses with his revolutionary product, NIGHTWATCH®. In 2013, Jeffrey and his now husband, Wade, lost one of their beloved show horses, ‘Snoop,’ overnight to colic because no one was there to help in his time of need. Believing that things happen for a reason and hoping to make a positive change out of a negative situation, Jeffrey went to work shortly after his death on a new technology that could serve as an early-warning system for equine colic. Today, that technology is known as NIGHWATCH®, the world’s first smart halter™.

From a very early age Jeffrey grew up showing Arabian and half-Arabian horses in the Northeast before winning back-to-back World’s Championship titles in 2011 and 2012 with his American Saddlebred mare, ‘Sue-She.’ As a child, Jeffrey aspired to be an equine veterinarian so naturally he attended Tufts University. However, instead of pursuing a veterinary career, he earned a Biomedical Engineering degree and headed south after graduation to Manhattan where he built an impressive career within the healthcare marketing industry. During his 15-year tenure in New York, he worked for only 2 companies. First, for a publicly held advertising & communication agency (1997-2004) and then for himself (2004-2013) when he and 2 business partners founded and operated one of the largest independent networks of healthcare agencies in the US that supported the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.

After exiting his company in 2013, Jeffrey relocated to Austin, TX where he found himself reflecting daily on his 15-year career wondering what was next. Despite being an equestrian, engineer, and entrepreneur, his path forward was unclear. That was, until August 25th of 2013. On August 25th, Jeffrey and Wade got an early-morning phone call from their horse trainer in KY stating Snoop was gone. Snoop was only 8 years young and died alone in his stall because no one knew he was in trouble.

“He was at a great facility that offered top notch care, but unfortunately he was also very stoic, so no one knew of his internal GI issues (colic) that took his life overnight while alone in the barn.”

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A scant 17 days later, the couple was celebrating Jeffrey’s birthday when he shared his frustration with the status quo of equine colic. So, like any entrepreneur, Jeffrey decided to move forward to see if he could create a solution to the problem of colic. Within two months, Protequus® was formed. The name Protequus® is derived from the word “Protection” and the Latin word for horse, “Equus.” Protequus® aims to “transform the equine industry through predictive analytics and data science to improve health and performance outcomes.”

The first 18 months consisted of research, both in computer science labs and in the barn, where Jeffrey and his team of engineers collected physiologic sensor data, including horses’ vital signs and behaviors. As Jeffrey says, “the AAEP reports that, on average, approximately 125 horses in the US will die from colic each day, and that is just unacceptable.”

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So, driven by this frustration, Jeffrey and his team collected and analyzed data to investigate the hypothesis that deviation in a horse’s normal physiology correlates with pain and distress, and that in turn can be used to identify early signs of colic. “We are not looking to displace caretakers or horsemanship. Rather, we wish to provide more objective evidence for caretakers to do their job better and more efficiently, all while raising the bar horsemanship,” says Jeffrey.

When worn, NIGHTWATCH® monitors a horse’s vital signs (i.e., heart rate and respiration) and behaviors i.e., (activity, motion, and posture) to obtain an overall picture of their health and well-being. If, and when, abnormalities arise in a horse’s unique and normal physiology, you will receive an alert via text, phone, and email so you can get to them sooner and evaluate for yourself. This is especially helpful overnight while horses are unsupervised.

NIGHTWATCH® is considered an IoT (i.e., internet of things) device because it works across both Wi-Fi and cellular networks thereby allowing it to push information to you on-demand via an app. It also offers GPS tracking and leverages artificial intelligence to adapt to your horse over time. All this patented technology and rechargeable batteries that offer 12 hours of power is only 2.1 ounces in weight and safely sealed within a water- and dust-resistant plastic enclosure noninvasively housed within the padded crown of a 1” triple-stitched all-natural leather breakaway halter, which also offers a padded noseband, adjustable chin strap, rolled throatlatch, finished edges, and stainless-steel hardware.

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The NIGHTWATCH® smart halter™ is the direct result of Jeffrey’s passion and dedication, and as he states “not only does NIGHTWATCH® have the potential to save the lives of many horses through early intervention of distress, but also transform how equine insurance companies manage and assess risk, how veterinarians practice telemedicine, and how researchers design studies.”

To learn more, visit www.smarthalter.com.