Professional’s Choice is a leader in the equine industry because the company strives to innovate by finding new and better materials—as well as ways to utilize those materials—and test their ideas all in an effort to make horses more comfortable. The ultimate idea being that if the horse is comfortable, he will perform better.
The latest step forward for the company, and performance horses everywhere, is Ventech. Ventech is an exclusive new technology used in PC cinches, Sports Medicine Boots, and skid boots that features a ventilated limestone-based, neoprene that conforms to the horse. It allows heat and moisture to escape.
"Without innovation, you get left behind," said General Manager Monty Crist. "It’s just like anything else, the technology is out there now, if you don’t keep looking for it and looking at it, your competition is going to pass you by. Our owner, Dal Scott, has always said, if the product doesn’t promote the comfort and safety of the horse, we’re not going to put our name on it."
The tradition began with the company’s Sports Medicine Boots in 1990. Professional’s Choice went to the University of Wisconsin to clinically test their new idea. They verified their findings at Oklahoma State University and found that on average their boots absorbed 26% of energy associated with fetlock hyperextension.
The next product they applied their philosophies to was the saddle pad. After investing in extensive computerized software and calibrated pressure sensors—as well as tests in the field—they developed the SMX Air-Ride pad.
Now, the company’s approach is manifested in its latest material, Ventech, used in their cinches and boots.
Crist explains, "We were able to take the Ventech technology to allow for breath-ability and more comfort for the horse. It’s ventilated—which is going to allow for the air to flow through. About 30% of this cinch has holes where the neoprene is not touching the horse, so it’s allowing air in. It also features our waffle pattern, which allows it to work like a second skin on the horse, therefore you don’t have to pull your cinch as tight and it’s more comfortable for your horse."
The cinch was launched last summer and Crist says it has been very successful in the marketplace.
"We took the technology and applied it to our boots," he said. "I’m certain that’s where it’s going to be the most beneficial, as it truly is revolutionary. The beauty of it is—with the Ventech in it—it’s not only breathable but it also gives it more elasticity. It’s going to stretch more and conform to the horse’s leg allowing it to produce a very contoured fit. On top of that we use Ultra Shock, which is the energy absorption material that’s used in all of our products."
The Ultra Shock, in fact, is used by top sporting goods industries, in products like shoulder pads and football
"It’s used to absorb energy," Crist said. "That’s what it’s designed to do. We took the formula that they were using and we had it modified so it had more elasticity, more energy absorption and was lighter weight. Then we applied the Ventech technology to the new improved Ultra Shock. With the two materials working together you always have a good flow of air going to the horse’s leg, and the best support and protection you can apply to a horse. We never glue it, it’s sewn, meaning it has true movement and flexibility with the horse’s gaits."
While the breath-ability and support were the objectives at the beginning of the project, an unintended benefit might end up being the most attractive result of the experiment.
"Another great aspect about this boot," Crist said. "Is it gets zero dirt in it. You can put this on a horse and there’s absolutely not a spec of dirt in it. The only dirt you’re going to see in the boot is if the horse’s leg was already dirty."
What’s more, Professional’s Choice owns the exclusive rights to the new Ventech material—as well as the SMX Air Ride material—in the equine industry.
"We’re looking at new things every day," Crist said. "Not all of it comes to market, but we’re looking every day."