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would like input on product design

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  • would like input on product design

    This isn't a riding/driving/groundwork issue - but it is a product issue, and I'd like some input.

    Valley Vet had a great buy on the lick n spin pony pops holder. They are the kind that hold the donut shaped pony pops/likits/licky things on a rod. As a holiday present for me/Ted, I decided to purchase, thinking that this way, it would simple to remove them (once the thing was nailed to the stall boards) - that way he could have them in the warmer months, and I could avoid the ant problem.

    The picture on their site shows that the rod is kept in place in the holder on one end with a ring and a coddle pin - pick out the pin, pop out the rods, the pony pops come out.

    Well, it came in the mail today, and they've changed the design. Instead of the ring and pin, it has two rings, at either end, the kind that you would have with a key ring. And they are very difficult to wind back through the hole to get the rod out.

    So I started thinking, I have pretty good manual dexterity, considering I use my hands for scientific manipulations all day. But if I couldn't do it without the holder being nailed to the wall, I certainly wouldn't be able to do it when on the wall.

    Which means that anyone with arthritis, anyone with a cast, anyone with a tendon injury, anyone with neurological issues affecting their hands...nobody could use this thing!

    I called up Valley Vet - I have to say, their customer service is terrific - it was shipped to me and received in just a few days, and when I explained that I thought it had been packaged without the coddle pin, they also assumed (as I did at first) that it was defective.

    They called back to say that the manufacturer had changed the design because people had claimed that their horses could remove the pin and then the pony pops were freed from the holder - however, given the consistency of these things, they still have to lick and nibble at them, it couldn't be any different than a hanging ball.

    Valley Vet had none of the other type, and they are checking with the manufacturer to see if they have any. As shipped, it is useless - it would take me so long to get any pony pop in there, and I'm afraid it would be difficult enough that I could bruise my hands. So unfortunately, if they can't find the other style, they've lost the sale - through no fault of Valley Vet.

    But it got me to thinking. Who makes decisions regarding designs of this sort? Maybe I've been talking too much with whicker about building a better saddle, and with Invite about gloves and etc., but if you make a design that is difficult for an able bodied person to manipulate, you've pretty much ensured that anyone who is disabled is out of the picture.

    So - a long winded way of saying - regardless of whether the manufacturer can replace or not - I see this as an opportunity to educate them on "inclusive designs." Why shut out part of your possible market? Judging by this forum there are plenty of people that have neuromuscular issues, arthritis, injuries (in fact, the more you're around horses, the more issues you're likely to have!). And I'd like to speak with the manufacturers and enlighten them.

    Any comments? Suggestions? I realize that the lick n spin pony pop holder may not be on everybody's "must have" list...but I think the more aware companies are as to who comprises their market, the more receptive they could be towards better product design.
    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

  • #2
    We spoke about this via email, but I thought I would share my answer with the group. There is NO WAY I could use the key ring thingy. I completely lack the strength and dexterity to do so. If I bought one and it was the new model, it would be on its way back. I have neuropathy, so my fingers lack feeling. Many tasks are difficult to accomplish. Lick and spin will not be a gift for my horses!

    I can see where horses might be able to get the end pins out of the big pin, but there must be a better solution. Maybe a screw with a nut type thing. Obviously not a sharp screw...I'm thinking along the lines of the type used on a childs toy workbench. I'm no inventor, but I do know the Lick ans Spin people came up with a crappy solution!

    I also give Valley Vet 2 thumbs up for customer service. This licky thing issue will not affect my dealings with VV!


    • #3
      Is there any way you could post some pics of this?
      Hubby is an engineer... might have some ideas...
      “Your appearance should reflect the care you take in every aspect of your horsemanship... feeding, grooming... everything you do, from the barn to the show ring. Class, people, class…" George Morris


      • #4
        I think most "new, improved" designs are dreamed up to save money and/or because someone complained about the old way it was done. And whoever figured out the new way is not actively involved with the process --- in this case, the designer isn't a horse person, he/she just looked for a quick, easy way to accomplish hanging the pop.


        • Original Poster

          here you go!

          Below is the original design, with the pin. What they've done is stick the big "key ring" part through the hole, so that in order to get the rod free you have to wind through the key ring, which is very stiff.
          (pic to the right, thanks to TrueGrit)
          Attached Files
          Last edited by DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"; Jan. 1, 2010, 09:39 AM.
          a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


          • #6
            I see - What about removing the "key ring" altogether, and replacing it with a small self closing clasp? Or a cotter pin only?

            You may have to drill the hole in the rod bigger, but a farm 'n' feed store, or tack repair shop, or even Home Depot may have a simple clasp that would fit through as it is.

            The "key ring" design - as it is sold now - is completely impractical for even the nimble fingered, for a product of this type! What were they *thinking* ?!?

            edited to add -

            ... I found a pic of this ghastly "new & improved" version here -


            ... Dressage Geek - since I can't post a pic, feel free to grab it and post with the other, so we can all see the difference clearly - and perhaps come up with an altogether better solution.

            fwiw - they're charging a ridiculous amount of money for such a poorly designed nothing-to-it product... I wonder if a sturdy toilet paper roll holder wouldn't work just as well... hmmm... or a rod that could be drilled thru a $5 plastic salt lick holder... will ask hubby... - cuz I want one too!
            Last edited by TrueGrit; Jan. 1, 2010, 04:00 AM. Reason: added pic link
            “Your appearance should reflect the care you take in every aspect of your horsemanship... feeding, grooming... everything you do, from the barn to the show ring. Class, people, class…" George Morris


            • #7
              To change a product design is actually very expensive for a company as their artwork, catalogs and existing stock are now useless, so this company probably did it to improve it based on complaints.

              I would suggest actually contacting the company. They probably have a little pile of the old ones sitting there that they are trying to figure out how to get rid of......Or Valley Vet said they would do that so you may be in luck.

              It does suck when something you love is changed or discontinued. I remember buying up Levis like a mad woman when they discontinued my size when they moved production overseas....

              And while it looks like a cheap design, making a mold is very expensive. In the U.S. that mold if they were making it from scratch would cost thousands of dollars...


              • Original Poster

                The mold is the same, it looks like all they did was remove the coddle pin, and with it the ability to get the treats on in the first place. I did tell Valley Vet I would be contacting the manufacturers (VV is trying to see it can be replaced with the original, terrific, if not, they've lost the sale, not their fault!) so that they can better understand why the "improved" design is NOT.
                a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                • #9
                  The company needs to borrow my fingers for a day. I could be their test person. This new design may be better as far as the "horseproofness" but it is far worse for people who lack dexterity, people with arthritic hands and/or arthritic fingers, and most of all, people who cannot even fasten pants and get stuck in sports bras!!! For those confused, see the "Breeches for the one and a half handed rider" thread. It will clearly show you we are not all capable of winding tight little key ring things into pony pop horse toys.

                  I think more companies need to take a look at the fact that lots of equestrians are not completely able bodied. Even "able bodied" equestrians have arthritis. Even if I did not suffer from neuro problems, I have 1 finger that doesn't move, as I shattered it and it's screwed together and several others that have been broken a few times each. I'm sure there are plenty of horse people out there like me. I cannot possibly be the only accident prone rider.

                  I should become a human tester for the installation of horse products I would be like a little kid in a candy store. I can still (wo)man a drill and other power tools. The need for healthy fingers leaves me in a lurch.

                  Heck, use the original pin and use those padlocks that need keys. Easy for me and impossible for the ponies!!!


                  • Original Poster

                    Well, it's not like I showed the product to Ted and he knew what he would be missing.

                    Here's the funny thing. If Ted had managed to open up the pin, I would have (the geek educator in me!) praised him for using the prefontal cortex he is not supposed to have, then I would have put a clip in so he couldn't do it again. Voila!
                    a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                    • #11
                      How about using a regular bolt and nut as the main pin, from one end to the other, or a little bolt on the end where the pin was, or some kind of snap?


                      • #12
                        Our horses are a whole lot smarter than no-horsefolk realize

                        My horses have an easy time removing nuts from bolts. They practice with their prehensile tongues and can do many other fasteners.

                        Ruby, the han mare, hates being locked in the fatty paddock. She uses her front feet as well. She has removed screws that hold the gate latches, double ended snaps and other horse proof latches. She enlists the help of Tierney, the RID, to lift the gate off its hinges. Currently she is developing carpentry demolition skills.

                        Wren, the trak, is into moving and rearranging furniture. She also likes answering the barn phone. Both
                        like the feel of the battery drill. They put their tongue on the trigger and get a buzz. Yes, the drill is in the closed tack room with a round door knob handle. And, yes, the safety is on. It is easy to move, remember?
                        Intermediate Riding Skills


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by howardh View Post
                          And while it looks like a cheap design, making a mold is very expensive. In the U.S. that mold if they were making it from scratch would cost thousands of dollars...
                          Yes, but in this case they merely changed the cotter pin (worth a fraction of a penny overseas wholesale) to a key ring (ditto). No "expensive" costs incurred.

                          Hubby votes for just using a cotter pin or small snap. I vote for calling the company - or whomever's on the box (importer?), and explaining to them that in the Real Equestrian World - their "new & improved" solution is an abject failure.

                          And quite frankly, there *should* be a demand for Product Tester for the R.E.W. (see above) - inform them of the need, and Fill It! Even the more able bodied are getting older, and would need their glasses just to change the Lic Pop in that holder. I mean, how poorly thought out was that? Hubby, the engineer, never has his glasses in his pocket at the barn - and would certainly not remember to bring them just to change a LicPop!

                          Maybe we should form a group of R.E.W. Product Testers - cuz if it leaves with our approval, it would darn well Work!
                          “Your appearance should reflect the care you take in every aspect of your horsemanship... feeding, grooming... everything you do, from the barn to the show ring. Class, people, class…" George Morris


                          • #14
                            True Grit Go For It!

                            Yea!!! True Grit!

                            You are so Right! I can see an active group like the nerd herd out of this.

                            DressageGeek, how did the Herd organize and function?
                            Intermediate Riding Skills


                            • Original Poster

                              By default. shotenstar came on, asked if people had expertise in statistical analysis and/or peer review, asked we PM her, and that was what started it. Of course it has snowballed! But I think this is an excellent idea - I sit on a lot of review panels, but the ones run by the DOD also have panelists on board that are "consumer reviewers." At first it confused me - they don't have the scientific expertise to weigh in on a grant - but that is the idea. In this case (ex drug abusers) they kept us on the straight and narrow - if the science was good, but didn't address a real perceived need by the community - well then, there are other avenues for funding (well, not really, but still).

                              This is why I came on the board with this - the design, as it stands, is very exclusive - in that it excludes many people form using it. Why not have feedback from those who would be consumers, and get their input?

                              I'll call Valley Vet on Monday and see if they have been able to locate one of the original design. If not - it gets returned as defective. And I will ask for manufacturer information and set up a discourse with them - hopefully they'll be receptive!
                              a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                              • #16
                                Any news?

                                Hey DG-

                                Any satisfaction from the company? Has an old model been found for you? Feel free to say the are being "anti-peripheral neuropathy" with their new design...I'll back you up


                                • Original Poster

                                  Valley Vet has been great - they are waiting on word from the manufacturer, and they hope to find the coddle pin they can send me. They promised to keep on top of it.

                                  But it also occurred to me, in this bitter cold, how much more difficult it would be to move those rings.
                                  a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues


                                  • #18
                                    As someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis, even on my best days I couldn't work that thing! I agree that I wish companies would think about the end user (both the horse and owner) a little more. I can see how a cotter pin could cause problems, but why couldn't they have replaced it with a small carribiner or similar thing? Something that someone with less than flawless hand strength and dexterity can work.

                                    I have to say though that this issue is not just limited to product design- I find that even my company often implements policies or will hold meetings in such a way that I end up in pain as a result (think 2 plus hour meeting no breaks...I had to have assistance to stand up afterwards ) I am finding that the general awareness of any disability or limitation is pretty low in a variety of situations.

                                    I hope you can get something figured out that works for you DG, and definitely a topic for consideration in general.
                                    My blog:



                                    • #19
                                      Do you still have the old one Geek? It is a simple ring cotter pin and they sell them at any hardware store.

                                      I agree with True Grit, it's a toilet roll holder.

                                      Easy solution, toss the whole thing...sorry...but it is easier to just use something else

                                      You can go down to whatever home store you have in the St. Louis tundra and tell them you need a wooden dowel at whatever diameter it is the pony pop hole is. They can drill a small hole in each end for you. Then you go back to the barn and put the pop on the dowel, run the end of a bungy cord through one whole on one end then through the stall guard to the other side and hook the other end through. A small PVC pipe would work too for the dowel.

                                      Do you want Todd to make you one? He is going to be making me some cavaletti tomorrow?
                                      I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                                      Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Colleen, how sweet! ValleyVet has contacted the manufacturer, they will send the pin, and I am getting the contact info for the manufacturer. What I liked about it is that it is hard plastic - no wooden bits to splinter or chew, and pretty indestructible therefore, regardless of humidity or wind chill.

                                        I actually jury rigged something like you suggested way back when likits were made in Britain (Talley something or other) and of course Ted played with the cord (snap! on his muzzle!).

                                        But I think it is a good start to educate.
                                        a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues