Apparently there is still some lingering confusion over the origins of my halter, made even more confusing by my former manufacturer, Tammy Miller of Tammy’s Rope Tack, who continues to claim to have invented them, and continues to sell them without my permission.
Allow me to set the record straight:
It all began in California in the early ’90s…. I was living in the San Jose area, and met a trainer named Deb Cooper who came to do a clinic at the barn where I taught riding and kept my horses. Deb is a fantastic trainer who was one of Pat Parelli’s first 5-star trainers, and was at the fore-front of the wildly popular Natural Horsemanship ‘movement.’ It was on this occassion that I purchased my very first rope halter and lead, which I still have and use today, some 15 years later!
Anyway, I learned from Deb how to ride, Parelli-style, in that halter and lead. I rode the same way, by tying the lead around to the fiador knot to make reins, for many years. However, over the years, and as my learning & experience progressed, I started to notice a few problems with riding in the halter… mainly, once the lead was tied back to the fiador knot, the knot became very bulky and heavy, and tended to swing back and forth while riding. I put up with it for quite a while, seeing no better alternative at the time. Then, a few years ago, after I moved back to my home state of Virginia and started to get back into trail riding, I started looking for an alternative. I tried lots of different things; side pulls, hackamores of various types and descriptions, bitless bridles, you name it. I like the convenience of having the halter also function as the bridle, and the leadrope also function as the reins, but felt the Parelli-type design could be improved upon.
I started thinking about how it might be possible to get rid of the fiador knot altogether, and have rings instead to attach the reins to. I got online, searched on every search engine there was, and found nothing that matched what I was thinking. So, I contacted 3 or 4 halter manufacturers by email, one of whom was Tammy Miller. I asked if she would be interested in developing a prototype of a halter I was designing. She said yes. I sent her several drawings of what I had in mind, and she sent back the first prototype. I rode in it a few times, made a few tweaks to the design. sizing, etc, and the Aeron Riding Halter was born!
After I started showing it to people, it seemed like there might be some interest in the halter, so I put one on ebay to see what would happen. It sold. I put another one on ebay. It sold. Soon, several tack shops were carrying them, and they were selling pretty regularly on ebay. At this point I got online and checked to see if anyone had applied for a patent on the design. No one had. So, in February or this year, I applied for, and received, a Provisional Patent for the halter.
Meanwhile, my husband and I had noticed that Tammy was selling this halter on her website, and calling it “her new invention.” I mentioned to her that I wasn’t thrilled about this, and right about the same time I received a letter from Tammy stating that she was cutting me out and was going to make and sell these halters on her own as her own invention. She continues to sell them today, and continues to call them her own invention, and there lies the confusion!
I wish Tammy no ill will, but dishonesty is dishonesty, no matter how you slice it! She now wants to be named as “Co-inventor” on the patent, presumably so she can continue to profit off of my original idea. I do not subscribe to her brand of business, and neither does my new manufacturer, Dawn, who is an honest person and a great halter maker and deserves the recognition of being my manufacturer! Thanks, Dawn, for making great halters and continuing to help me offer this great product!
Sorry to hear about the problems marketing the “Aeron Riding Halter” . My dad Robert Kearns problems were different in that he had spent about $350,000 getting patent protection. Designers ordered a copy of the patent for $0.50 and copied it. But thieves are thieves. I believe a much higher authority will judge them and I wouldn’t want to be on His wrong side. My dad couldn’t have suceeded as long as he did against twenty some auto makers without divine intervention.
Good Luck in your endeavors.
Universal Pictures is bringing out a movie about my dad’s journey in October “Flash of Genius”
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