Brian Livingstone founded Graf Enterprises last year to develop unique covers that protect the studded shoes of horses in transit before taking part in show jumping and eventing.
Mr Livingstone, a retired teacher, came up with the new product idea while helping his daughter, a vet, with her horses at equestrian events.
Talking about his new product Mr Livingstone said: “When horses are competing on grass surfaces in show jumping or eventing, metal studs are fitted to the shoes to provide grip. This is usually done on arrival at the show as there is considerable risk of injury to the horse or others in transit, if travelling with pointed studs already fitted.
“StudShu is a polymer cover that can be used to allow studs to be fitted to horseshoes before travelling when the horse is in its own stable and is relaxed, saving time at shows. It’s also much safer for the handler.”
When Mr Livingstone approached Invest Northern Ireland for help with the research and development of the product, its Innovation Voucher scheme provided the support he needed. The voucher enabled him to seek advice and practical support from experts at Queen’s University’s CNC Machine Shop to develop a mould tool required to make the protective polymer covers. StudShu took two years to develop.
He also received assistance from Invest NI towards patenting the product.
With the product now developed and in use Mr Livingstone has his sights set high, adding: “As horseshoes and studs are similar in all countries this product has the potential to sell worldwide. Feedback from contacts in the equestrian industry has been very positive.”
The R&D support provided to Graf Enterprises is part of Invest NI’s Boosting Business initiative, which is helping businesses under five key themes: jobs, skills, exports, technology, and research and development.
Olive Hill, Invest NI’s Director of Technology and Process Development, said: “This product is an excellent example of how an Innovation Voucher can be used to transform a smart idea into a marketable product with significant export potential.”
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