Products that Jumped From Tack Shop to Pharmacy Shelves
Updated: May 16
Spectacular leaps aren't the exclusive purview of showjumpers. Some inventions are able to vault the gaps too; jumping off from the animal care products market to land in the personal care products market. Examples include nail polish, shampoo and pain relief consumer products. Originally created for our equine companions, they went on to find success as products for humans. Read on for vignettes of how these products made the leap.
Hair Care Products
MANE 'N TAIL shampoo got its start on a New Jersey horse farm. It was developed by the Katzev family for use on their show horses to give them shiny manes; but soon equestrians discovered that their own tresses also benefited from the shampoo. So the equine shampoo was reformulated for human use and is a popular product today. There is anecdotal evidence that horse people also use other haircare products for horses on themselves such as COWBOY MAGIC, Exhibitor's QUIC SILVER shampoo and SHOW SHEEN; but there are no human reformulations of these products yet.
Nail Care Products
A racehorse owner at Belmont Park needed a solution to prevent the splits and cracks that would appear in his horses' hooves as a result of racing; so Mr. Price came up with a cream formulation to use on his New York thoroughbreds to prepare them for the rigors of the track. Then something interesting happened - the grooms who applied the cream to the horses observed that their own nails were also improved. So the horse hoof strengthener was reformulated for human use; and the BARIELLE brand of nail, skin and footcare products was born. The story is similar for MANE N'TAIL's HOOFMAKER, which started out as a hoof care formulation and then became a hand and nail therapy cream.
Pain Relief Products
More than 100 years ago in Massachusetts, a piano salesman's wife invented ABSORBINE liniment. Horses were used to pull the wagons that delivered pianos in the old days. The salesman's enterprising wife (Mary Ida Young) wanted to help her husband keep his horses free from lameness, but the topical agents used at that time for horses' legs were rather harsh, so she created a liniment containing menthol and natural herbs. It was discovered that the same mix of herbs helped relive human pain, so the ABSORBINE JR. product line of pain relieving liquids and patches was brought to market (click here for a brief historical video).
A hyaluronic acid oral supplement for swollen and painful joints was created by two KY brothers, both veterinarians, for equines. Their product CONQUER was a hit, so the Pierces expanded their product to use for canines. It was so effective that they expended it even further into an oral supplement formulated for humans (CONQUER HA).
There are other equine formulated pain relief products that horse owners have tried on themselves including ; Equilite's SORE NO-MORE gelotion; and ABSORBINE BIGELOIL gel. However, these products are not approved for human use.
KARDIA MOBILE is an ingenious clinical grade personal EKG monitor which is a smart device that connects to your iPhone; allowing you to monitor your heart at home with a free app. The invention was first introduced as a mobile EKG device for veterinarians, the ALIVECOR Veterinary Heart Monitor.
Just like in a jump-off, there are different routes for a new product to take to gain acceptance and achieve commercial success. So far, the products described took a direct equine-to-human route, though there is a more roundabout way to market. Some innovations have begun development for human use; then went on to find renown as products for equines; and finally built off the exposure as an equine product to then expand into a line of products for humans (human-to equine- to human). BACK ON TRACK ceramic technology fabric wellness products, EQYSS horse shampoo, Multi Radiance Medical's line of ACTIVET handheld tissue therapy lasers and 3M's VETRAP are examples of this market development route.
Whether born on the track or born on the farm, many tack shop staples have landed on pharmacy shelves as consumer products. Going forward, rather than coming into being by happenstance or accidental discovery, perhaps inventors will consciously choose to develop products for horses that they also actively plan to extend into products for people. This approach to product development for human use is indeed a viable one, as can be seen from the examples discussed. In fact, there is even a term for this type of product development trajectory. "HorseFirst" was coined by David Doherty, founder of the HorseTech Conference. The Global HorseTech Market Research report lays out the reasons that the horse may be the perfect template for pursuing innovation. In the future, we may be able to look forward to many more equine products just as capable of making great leaps as John Whitaker's Milton was in the showjumping ring.