Meet Your Neighbor: Sara Yarger designs horse halter to help para-equestrians
ELMORE – An Elmore resident has developed a revolutionary product for para-equestrians which has the potential to impact the lives of millions of people with and without disabilities.
Sara Yarger designed MagnaHalter, an easy to use horse halter, with the dual purpose of giving greater independence to para-equestrians and making horseback riding more accessible to people with disabilities.
Yarger accomplished those goals and, in the process, created a product which will make the sport easier for all riders.
The MagnaHalter is designed with a patented magnetic fastener that makes haltering a horse easier.
Sara Yarger’s MagnaHalter, shown with her here on a display mannequin, will make horseback riding more accessible to riders with disabilities.
“Essentially what I did was replace the clips and buckles with a magnetic plate and magnet,” said Yarger, who is a third-year teacher who works for Ohio Virtual Academy. “I work with kids with disabilities, and sometimes their fingers don’t work well.”
MagnaHalter allows a rider to quickly and easily halter a horse, and Yarger discovered that the halter has universal benefits when she was haltering a horse on a cold winter day.
“I was in the barn, and I had cold fingers and was wearing gloves, and I thought there has to be an easier way,” she said.
The ease of use of MagnaHalter makes haltering a horse easier and faster and gives para-equestrians the freedom to halter a horse unassisted, giving them freedom, accessibility, and authority over their horses.
Because horses are sensitive to authority, they often respond better to a rider who has prepped them for the ride.
“Horses are hierarchy animals, and when I halter a horse, it signals to the horse my authority and tells them I am ready to work with them,” Yarger said. “This gives the para-equestrian more authority and a sense of independence.”
Yarger replaced the clips and buckles found on traditional halters with a magnetic plate and magnet to make it easier for para-equestrians to halter a horse.
Trial and error
The halter was developed through several trial-and-error stages with the advice of para-equestrians, Paralympic trainers, and product developers.
Its initial design used Velcro as a fastener, but Velcro didn’t allow for a quick release in an emergency situation.
The final product is made of metal, with a quick-release design.
“I worked with a product developer who helped me make it less clunky and more ergonomic,” Yarger said.
Yarger initially created the magnetic halter as a required project in her assistive technology class at Bowling Green State University.
In 2018, it attracted investors during the university’s The Hatch, an annual competitive event in which BGSU students pitch business ideas to alumni investors.
“Serenity Farm Equestrian Center in Luckey brought in a miniature horse for me, and I gave my speech with her. It was so fun,” Yarger said. “There was a bidding fight between investors, and then a man stood up and said he’d give me $10,000 with no strings attached. That never happened at The Hatch before.”
That man was Ed Reiter, and Ed and his wife, Linda Reiter, were two of the many people from across the country, including business partner Mark West, who have helped Yarger develop and promote her product.
“It’s been quite a journey. I’ve connected with people who train and ride and are just as excited about MagnaHalter as we are,” Yarger said. “Right now, it’s being tested in centers across the country, including centers in Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, Arizona, California, and Washington.”
Although the magnetic clip was designed for a halter, it has potential use as an adaptive and efficient clip for other products, including clothing, luggage and sports equipment. But for now, Yarger is focusing on producing the halter.
A Kickstarter campaign has been created to attract funds that will be used to purchase tooling so the MagnaHalter can be produced in large quantities, resulting in a lower retail cost for consumers.
“It will help offset the cost of production. We just want the harness to be more accessible,” Yarger said. “I know how important riding is to me, and I want to be a part of making it more accessible.”
Donations to the MagnaHalter Kickstarter can be made at https://bit.ly/MagnaHalterKickstarter.
More information on MagnaHalter can be found at the MagnaHalter Facebook page and Instagram account or by emailing email@example.com.
Contact correspondent Sheri Trusty at firstname.lastname@example.org.