US 3773018 A
Horse walker apparatus is mounted on a surface, usually the ground or a concrete substrate. It includes a hub mounted on a drive shaft and spokes projecting radially from the hub. Horses are tethered to remote ends of the spokes, and when the hub rotates the horses are walked or led around in a circle to cool them following vigorous exericse, such as a race. A motor is connected to the drive shatt through a speed reducer and a chain drive connected to a sprocket wheel mounted on the shaft. The sprocket wheel is mounted on the shaft by means of a slip clutch, which prevents overload on the motor and a slipping between the two, should the resistance of the horses being walked exceed a predetermined adjustable amount.
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [1 1 Profughi Nov. 20, 1973 HORSE WALKER  Inventor: Terence C. Profughi, Chagrin Falls,
 Assignee: Technical Metal Processing, Inc.,
Cleveland, Ohio  Filed: July 13, 1972  Appl. No.: 271,582
 U.S. CI. 119/29  Int. Cl A0lk 15/00  Field of Search 119/29, 1404;
 5 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Primary Examiner-Louis G. Mancene Assistant Examiner-J. N. Eskovitz Att0rney-Robert J. Fay
[57 ABSTRACT Horse walker apparatus is mounted on a surface, usually the ground or a concrete substrate. It includes a hub mounted on a drive shaft and spokes projecting radially from the hub. I-Iorses are tethered to remote ends of the spokes, and when the hub rotates the horses are walked or led around in a circle to cool them following vigorous exericse, such as a race. A motor is connected to the drive shatt through a speed reducer and a chain drive connected to a sprocket wheel mounted on the shaft. The sprocket wheel is mounted on the shaft by means of a slip clutch, which prevents overload on the motor and a slipping between the two, should the resistance of the horses being walked exceed a predetermined adjustable amount.
5 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures SHEET 3 OF 4 PATENTEDHHV 20 m3 SHEET &0? 4
PATENTED NOV 2 0 I975 1 HORSE WALKER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION After running a race, a race horse needs a cooling out period which is ordinarily accomplished by an exercise boy walking the horse for several minutes, until the excited horse relaxes and cools down from the hot, sweaty state in which he finished the race. The exercise is usually at a normal walking gait and it is to prevent stiffening of the muscles and any possible respiratory infections which might set in, in the absence of the cooling out period.
Similarly, the exercise boy is often used to lead an animal for purposes of breaking him to harness or halter when the horse is very young. This is a relatively gentle breaking period for the horse, but obviously it takes considerable amounts of time for the exercise boy. Additionally, the exercise boy must be sure-handed and exert some degree of authority in leading the horse to accustom the horse to the types of discipline necessary for his further training.
The concept of a mechanical horse walker to accomplish this purpose, and minimize the need for exercise boys, is not new. A whole series of such devices is described in the literature. An example of the same is described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,424,132 and includes many of the basic elements of this invention; indeed, this invention is considered an improvement of the apparatus described in that patent.
As with many other such devices, the aforementioned patent includes an electric motor connected to a gear reducer and subsequently to a drive shaft connected to a hub having radially extending spokes. On the extreme ends of the spokes are places to tether the horses for their walk.
Problems exist in walking horses, whether it be by an exercise boy or a mechanical apparatus such as involved in this invention. Some horses, 'on gi'ven days, simply refuse to be led and will stop and balk at any pressure exerted. With a mechanical walker, this creates problems, in that, the electric motor continues to run while the horse pulls back. Additionally, under such circumstances, the horse might fall down. If there was no means to keep the spokes or radially extending arms from turning even with the back pressure of a strong horse or a fallen horse, the animal might be dragged along the ground and severely injured. Obviously, this is undesirable, particularly with valuable race horses. Thus, it has been customary, in the prior art to provide a slip clutch some place between the motor and the power outlet side of the gear reducer in order to allow a strong pull of the horse to halt the tuming of the radially extending arms while allowing the motor to continue at its normal turning rate. Such a slip clutch is illustrated in the aforementioned patent (FIG. 4) and will not be further described here, as the apparatus shown and described is old in the art. To the extent necessary for an understanding of the operation of the slip clutch, the drawing and descriptive matter of the aforementioned patent relating to the slip clutch is specifically incorporated herein.
Another problem which exists with mechanical horse walkers is that the horses cannot be bunched together, nor even aligned to closely follow one another, because of the excitable nature of the animals at the time they need the walking. As a consequence, the length of the radial arms extending from the hub must be several feet. Obviously, when one has a horse weighing 1,200 or 1,500 pounds pulling on a long lever arm, he generates considerable power. This tends to bend the radial arms and require their periodic replacement. The need for reliable reenforcing for these long arms has long been a problem.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION With this background in mind, this invention was designed to overcome the aforementioned problems. It includes the previously discussed apparatus mounted in a housing and placed on a substantially flat surface; for example, the ground or a concrete substrate laid on the ground. A motor, speed reducer, slip clutch and drive shaft are connected to rotate a drive shaft which turns the radial arms for leading the horses.
The problem with the location of the slip clutch in the prior art devices is the speed of the angular rotation of the drive wheel associated at the slip clutch connection. As is obvious, there is a certain amount of angular momentum with any rotating wheel, and regardless of the friction characteristics of the slip clutch, the faster the drive element moves, the more likely it is to transfer the movement to the associated wheel or rod. Frankly, this type of engineering analysis apparently was never done before in the design of a horse walker. As a consequence, insofar as is known, the instant invention is the first to ever put the slip clutch at the slowest moving connection of all of the elements involved; namely, the connection between the sprocket wheel and the drive shaft, saidshaft being directly connectedto the aforementioned rotatable hub. In this apparatus, the sprocket wheel connected to the main drive shaft is relatively large in diameter and is moving relatively slowly as compared to the other rotating elements of theapparatus between the motor and the drive shaft. As a consequence of the relatively slow rotation of the sprocket wheel, very little angular momentum will be imparted to the said sprocket wheel and thus the slippage anticipated for the slip clutch will not have the traditional time delay inherent in prior apparatus. The only momentum built into the system is that of the drive shaft, hub and spokes, thus should a horse fall he will not be dragged several feet while the mechanical delay works forward from the slip clutch.
In addition to the improvement in the location of the slip clutch, this invention involves a unique structural feature to reenforce the radially extending arms to which the horses are tethered. The hub includes a plurality of radially extending sockets into which the arms or spokes are inserted. The sockets, and thus the spokes, are inclined upwardly in a radial direction away from the hub. A substantially horizontally extending beam projects radially from an upper extension or bar projecting from the hub. There is one beam for each spoke and they converge at the outer end of the spoke where they are rigidly connected together, thus to form a triangle in combination with the upwardly extending bar. The mechanical strength of a triangular shape against distortion is well known in the engineering profession and it will not be discussed here. To further strenghen the aforementioned structural triangle, struts are connected at appropriate spots intermediate the corners of the triangle.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a fragmentary elevational view of the apparatus of this invention;
FIG. 2 is a plan view of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged elevational view, partially in section, taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3; and
FIG. 5 is an elevational view of one spoke and beam unit disconnected from the hub.
PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to FIG. 1, the. apparatus is initially mounted on a surface 12 which may be ground, a concrete substrate laid on the ground, or any other substantially flat body. A welded, heavy gauge weatherproof steel cabinet 14 completely encloses the power machinery and is mounted on the substrate in any one of several conventional mountings; for example, on studs projection from a concrete base.
A door 16 on one side of cabinet 14 may be opened by a handle 18, or any other means, to provide access to the operating machinery. The open door exposes U- shaped angle irons welded together to form a shelf 20, and mounted on theshelf is a thrust bearing 22 for minimizing the deflection of a drive shaft 24. The drive shaft projects upwardly through an aperture in the top of the cabinet 14 where it is supported and aligned by a second thrust bearing 26. With sufficient bracing of the cabinet, the thrust bearings 22 and 26 will tend to maintain the drive shaft 24 substantially perpendicular to the surface 12. It is recognized that the ability of the thrust bearings to maintain the alignment and attitude of the shaft 24 is dependent upon the bracing strength of the cabinet 14.
The drive shaft 24 extends upward where it is connected to a hub 28 which is provided with appropriate bracing structure and is constructed of heavy materials for obvious reasons related to bending by reluctant horses. Part of the hub includes socket members 30 which project radially and are inclined slightly upwardly away from the hub. Spoke members 32 fit into the sockets 30 and may be locked in the socket by any conventional means, if desired.
At the outer or distal ends of the spokes 32 are caps 34 (see FIG. 5). Each cap includes a ring 36 for tethering the horse to be led and walked by this apparatus. It is obvious that the cap 34 and ring 36 are merely illustrative of many other shapes which could perform the same function, and it is not intended that the illustrated embodiment be the only tethering means included within this inventive concept.
A beam 38 is shown in FIG. 5 to be attached to the outer end of the spoke 32; preferably, this connection is by welding although other attaching means could be provided if desired. The radially inner end of the beam 38 includes a hook portion 40 for projecting through an aperture in an upper plate 42onthe upper end of a rod 44 connected to the upper end of the hub 28. Obviously, the connected apparatus including the hub 28, plate 32, and bar 44 all rotate coaxially with the drive shaft 24.
As will be observed, the three elements the spoke 32, beam 38, and rod 44 together form a triangular shape which is well known for its structural stability and is intended to provide sufficient rigidity to prevent bending of the spoke by balky horses. To provide even greater structural stability, struts 46 are welded in place intermediate the corners of the triangle.
Turning now to the internal drive chain and power elements housed inside the cabinet 14, particularly as illustrated in FIG. 3, an electric drive motor 48 is connected through shafts and connectors 50 to a gear or a speed reducer 52. The power output side of the gear reducer is a first sprocket wheel 54 which drives a chain 56 which in turn drives a much larger second sprocket wheel 58. The whole object of the gear re: ducer and sprocket wheel sequence is to slow the rotational velocity of the electric motor down to an acceptable speed for cooling out horses. The instant invention contemplates variable speeds for exercising horses as low as one-half a revolution per minute up to several revolutions per minute.
The control mechanism for the apparatus is not illustrated in detail, but it will be appreciated by those having ordinary skill in the art that the speed of rotation can be controlled by remote control type apparatus, if desired, and could also have a programmed sequence for young horses being brokenwhich would start the horse slowly at a walk and slowly accelerate until he was moving at a faster pace and then again slowly returning to the walk speed over a period of several minutes. Obviously, a slow change in speed is necessary to prevent jerking the reins of the horse and thereby causing him to learn to fight the machine. Because of the possibility of animals fighting the machine, a conventional overload circuit can be provided for the electric motor to prevent damage to the motor under those circumstances. However, there is one critical overload feature which involves the connection of the second sprocket wheel 58 to the drive shaft 24 which should be discussed.
The connection at 60 is a slip clutch arrangement, the structural features of which are well known in the art and the function of which need not be described in detail. However, it is intended to allow the continued rotation of the motor 48, gear reducer 52, and sprocket wheel 58 even though the horses may be holding back with enough force to prevent any rotation of the hub 28 and spokes 32. This might occur when a number of horses attached in walking position balk at the pressure of the apparatus and refuse to move, or when one of the horses falls to the ground. This apparatus is not designed to drag horses who are not inclined to be walked, nor to drag horses around the ground when they have fallen.
It has been discovered during the course of experiments that a leading pull of up to 200 pounds should be adequate to urge any but the most uncooperative horse into a walking effort. Thus, where four horses are to be attached to the four spokes illustrated in FIG. 2, a pulling or retarding force on the end of the four spokes of 800 pounds would cause the clutch to slip and allow the motor to continue to run at the indicated speed without any movement of the drive shaft 24 or the other connected elements. Obviously, the slip clutch and this quantity of force may be adjusted as desired, depending upon the number of horses and/or number of radial spokes involved in the walking function.
Lubrication fittings for grease at the thrust bearings, support and alignment tubes 62, and ball races 64, may be included as needed in the structure. No detailed description of these elements appears necessary.
Having thus described the invention, it will be obvious to those having ordinary skill in the art that certain modifications may be made in the apparatus without departing from the spirit or scope of the inventive concept, The language and illustrated embodiment are merely to provide an easy means for showing the inventive concept, and it is not intended that the invention be limited by the language used nor the particular embodiment shown in the drawings. Rather, it is intended that the invention be limited only by the appended claims.
1. In a horse walker of the type mounted on a surface and including: at least one radially extending spoke mounted on a hub, said hub being mounted coaxially with a drive shaft,'said hub and shaft being adapted to rotate together about their longitudinal axes; means disposed on the distal end of said at least one spoke for tethering horses; a motor operably connected to a speed reducer, said speed reducer having a sprocket wheel at its power output side for engaging and pulling a drive chain, said chain engaging a second sprocket wheel mounted coaxially with said drive shaft; and, slip clutch means operably disposed between said motor and drive shaft for preventing an overload on said motor when the resistance to rotation of said hub exceeds a predetermined acceptable amount, the improvements comprising:
said slip clutch being received on said drive shaft and defining the mounting connection for said second sprocket wheel on said shaft, said second sprocket wheel having a larger diameter than said first sprocket wheel; and,
a support structure for substantially rigidly supporting said spoke, said support structure including: a bar projecting outwardly from said hub and generally coaxial therewith; an elongated beam member connectable to said bar adjacent the outermost end thereof and connectable to said at least one spoke adjacent the distal end thereof, said bar, beam and spoke defining a triangle in a vertical plane; and, a plurality of struts extending between and connected to said beam and said spoke.
2. The horse walker of claim 1 wherein said at least one spoke comprises a plurality of said spokes spaced around said hub and extending radially outwardly therefrom, said hub including a plurality of said sockets for releasably receiving said plurality of spokes and each of said plurality of spokes including a support structure.
3. The horse walker of claim 1, including thrust bearing means at both the lower end of said shaft and intermediate the shaft ends for minimizing the deflection of said shaft relative to said surface under extreme operating conditions.
4. The horse walker of claim 1 wherein said hub includes at least one socket for releasably securing said spoke therein.
5. The horse walker of claim 4 wherein said at least one socket receives said spoke in a position which is inclined upwardly away from said hub.