WiSys Student Innovator Shanna Burris was featured on UW System Regent Lisa Erickson's radio show last fall. She is pictured here with Erickson and WiSys Regional Associate Kristen Ruka.
University of Wisconsin-River Falls student Shanna Burris is helping to put paraplegic horseback riders in the saddle.
Burris, a senior equine management major with a background in healthcare, had the desire to help paraplegic riders. Riding a horse can be both physically and mentally therapeutic to those with paraplegia, but they’ll face a handful of obstacles during the process of readying to ride. Wheelchair ramps and lifts exist to help riders mount the horse, but lifting and maneuvering a saddle into place without assistance was an impossible task before Burris conceptualized a way to help.
Burris surveyed paraplegic riders to identify what they needed most. She then designed and created a hoist for lifting a saddle onto a horse. Her device consists of a simple pulley system that can be easily mounted in any barn. Burris’ device is easy to use, adjustable to all saddle types, and does not damage the saddle. But most importantly, the device allows a paraplegic rider to independently place the saddle on their horse.
Dean Olson, associate dean of the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Studies and professor of agricultural engineering at UW-River Falls, advised and mentored Burris on the project. Together they created the hoisting device for less than $150 and mostly of spare parts from the Agricultural Engineering Department.
Burris began working with WiSys Technology Foundation in 2016 to protect, develop and begin commercializing her idea, which is now Patent Pending. Burris will present on her research at WSTS 2017 this summer at UW-Platteville.