The Te Awamutu Landscape Will Never Be The Same Again.

Thursday 27 June 2013, 10:08AM

By Media PA



<p>A revolutionary product involving blue lights placed on racehorse&#39;s head collar will soon be a common sight in the paddocks of leading Te Awamutu-based standardbred racing operation Breckon Farms as well as other stud farms around New Zealand.</p> <p>The light therapy product for mares, which is called Equilume, enables mares to cycle earlier in the season and subsequently get in foal earlier and produce foals earlier. The implications of this for the horse racing industry will be large.</p> <p>In the past the method of getting mares to cycle involved having mares under lights in barns.</p> <p>&quot;There wouldn&#39;t be an equine veterinarian who hasn&#39;t secretly wondered how to design a device such as this,&quot; says Noel Power of Hamilton Veterinary Services, which are the vets for Breckon Farms.</p> <p>&quot;Finally it took an Irish woman (Professor Barbara Murphy) and her team to do it but not before two years of design and redesign,&quot; Power said.</p> <p>&quot;Equilume is a light mask that provides programmable low intensity blue light to the mare&#39;s right eye. The initial studies demonstrated that blue light levels at intensities of 10-50 Lux can successfully inhibit the hormone melatonin to levels observed during daytime hours,&quot; Power said.</p> <p>&quot;The fact that you can achieve inhibition of melatonin by administering light to a single eye is crucial for the commercialisation of this technology. The head-worn masks have been developed to do this and allow mares to remain outdoors without affecting their behaviour,&quot; he said.</p> <p>The benefits are multifold in that mares can remain outdoors and the mask provides the lighting to stimulate the reproductive axis. Blue LEDs, hidden behind a diffusive shield that provides a glow on the cornea rather than a distracting light, are on a timer and will activate at the same time daily and remain on until 11pm at night.</p> <p>It is a battery operated device with a battery that will last the duration of a single season, or up to six months. It has a light sensor and will activate when low level light is detected at dusk.</p> <p>When Professor Barbara Murphy first started trialling these devices, there were reported sightings of spirits from another world, much to her amusement.</p> <p>&quot;The underlying principles of putting mares under lights to improve reproductive performance is not new. What&#39;s new is the ability to do this in any paddock on the farm,&quot; Power said.</p>