The invention of a harness to help a lone handler load a horse into a trailer or lorry has won an Aberdeen University lecturer £4,000.

Cath Brown took first place in the staff category of the university’s Blue Skies Thinking competition to produce an innovation for which there could be a market.

Miss Brown, of Laurencekirk, explained to H&H: “The harness will use a strap made from a type of Velcro, to enable a handler to apply pressure to a particular muscle group at the rear of the horse, encouraging it to walk forward.”

The equine science lecturer got the idea when she’d had trouble loading one of her own horses: “My 17.1hh Thoroughbred sometimes refuses to go into a horsebox and when a horse that size plants his feet in the ground there’s not a lot you can do without getting rough.”

Professor Dominic Houlihan, who co-ordinated the competition, said: “The judges were won over by the novelty of her idea and her strong business plan.”

The harness is currently patent pending but Miss Brown, who developed the idea at home, intends to manufacture it regardless.

She said: “A British company which doesn’t currently produce equestrian products is interested.”

The harness should be on the market by December retailing at around £100.

The academic has now been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and is pursuing other ideas to benefit the lone equestrian. Last week the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) agreed to provide £5,000 worth of support to help her develop her business.

For more information visit: www.soloequestrian.com