NI students saddle up with US support for equestrian products

With funding from University of Ulster, three students have founded Crafted Equestrian to design Equestrian-related products

Jenny Gregg (left) Fergal Kelly and Erin McEvoy of Crafted Equestrian with horse Elvis.

Jenny Gregg (left) Fergal Kelly and Erin McEvoy of Crafted Equestrian with horse Elvis.

 

Three university students in Northern Ireland have cleared a major hurdle by securing funding for a patent in the United States for their equestrian-related product.

Jenny Gregg (21), Fergal Kelly (24), and Erin McEvoy (23), who are students at Ulster University, set up Crafted Equestrian after Ms Gregg, a talented international horsewoman, became worried about the health of her horse Elvis because of issues with girths, which are used to secure saddles.

“I’ve had Elvis for 10 years and after a few years of competing across Europe I realised that all of the girths I had bought to support Elvis were causing him undue discomfort, and that friction and sweating were causing nasty painful blisters called girth galls,” Ms Gregg said.

The product and design student she designed and made her own customisable girth.“When I developed the prototype, I was then able to compete at national and European level while creating comfort for Elvis using my pressure relief system,” she said.

The success of her prototype did not go unnoticed and she realised there was a demand in equestrian circles for products to improve horse welfare, and potentially contribute to performance.

Ulster University provided funding for the project, and connections to other students specialising in graphic design and international business. This led to the creation of Crafted Equestrian by the three students.

The start up is being backed by Innovation Ulster Ltd, the university’s knowledge and technology venturing company, and has also obtained a UK patent for its product.

Last week, Crafted Equestrian pitched to a panel of seasoned investors at the Maguire Hegarty LLC International University Student Pitch-Off Competition in Philadelphia, winning funding to pursue a patent in the US.

Crafted Equestrian is one of just 12 organisations and individuals that have been shortlisted, out of 130 entries, for the 2018 Invent awards, an annual competition that aims to find Northern Ireland’s “next big thing”.