Maybe all you know about the thoroughbred horse industry is what you pick up from watching the Kentucky Derby.
There's a lot of money in thoroughbred horses, as you might guess from observing the owners at the iconic race.
It is an industry with its own language and rules. Did you know that all horses are born on the first of January? Even if they actually drop to the ground on the fifteenth of February, or the sixth of June, they are yearlings on the following New Year's Day.
A yearling that is actually one year old is more valuable than one that is chronologically six months old. A buyer can better judge an animal's physical attributes when it's had a chance to grow a bit.
The problem is, the industry conducts yearling sales on a given date, and if your foal isn't as big as that other fella's, you'll go home with less money.
Brood mare owners are known to rush the breeding season by tricking the mares into thinking it's later in the year than it is. Mares are in tune with day length, so when it's the middle of December, with the shortest days, they aren't about to go into estrus.
Hence the use of artificial light, with the girls kept indoors so they think it might as well be spring when it isn't. Naturally, the use of lighting requires electricity which costs money, and maintaining horses indoors requires bedding and stable-mucking, adding to the breeder's costs that have to be recouped at the yearling sale.
Enterprise Ireland's One to Watch award for her brilliant invention that will surely revolutionize the thoroughbred industry.
She has invented the Equilume light mask that does what all those artificial lights are meant to do, but the horse wears the little thing while it's out frolicking in the paddock. For the breeder, it will be a cheaper alternative to indoor lighting, more efficient and easier to induce estrus.
With the financial backing of Enterprise Ireland, Dr. Murphy plans to start up a company to manufacture and market the device.
She hopes to have the item available in time for the 2013 breeding season, and being knowledgeable in the horse breeding industry, she'll be selling the Equilume masks in Kentucky and Ireland---where the finest thoroughbred horses are found.