Horseback riding is often a solitary experience. However, the ability to connect with others and use technology for music, a timer, take a phone call, text, hear a recorded lesson or listen to a podcast can also be needed in the saddle. That’s exactly what I Rock N Ride is: a hands-free Bluetooth saddle speaker.
Leah Lane, a Paso Robles native and owner of Hoofbeatz Audio, developed the concept and has worked hard at making it better. She says, “I designed it alone, by googling what I didn’t know, and reaching out everywhere, failing many, many times. After 13 design changes and 4 years of testing, I finally landed on a version that is effective for all types of equestrian activities.”
Versatile and Considerate of Others
I Rock N Ride is adaptable to a variety of situations making the product very versatile. Leah describes the various uses, “It attaches securely to almost anything, not just saddles. It also can hang out on a golf cart, a bicycle, go with you on a ranch ranger, partner in cars that don’t have Bluetooth, and be useful in a variety of situations.” It was also designed to be considerate of others.
You won’t be “that one” who is sharing the most favored music or info with everyone around them. One doesn’t have to worry about bothering others because the directional sound is focused on the listener. Yet, at the same time, a rider can send an emergency text or take a call in the saddle without fumbling around with a phone while handling the reins. Earbuds can be employed for private conversations or for situations where riders want to be immersed in the music.
Pivoting I Rock N Ride Business During Shutdown
Leah has been selling the I Rock N Ride products for the past ten years mostly on-line so she was able to stay open. However, her product sales through brick-and-mortar stores has taken a dive.
She was in the fortunate position to shift her business focus early as she was overseas just when the pandemic started to break. “I saw what was happening before it came to the US,” says Leah. “So as a small biz I offered a pre-order discount and my customers were cool enough to wait a little longer for their products. The response was insanely positive. I guess self-isolation on horseback is a thing and people are definitely shopping online.” She has already sold out from her latest shipment, which makes room for another shipment. “More units are coming in mid-May. I have seen a few of my brick and mortar stores, switch to a social media and online only presence which is sad, but necessary.”
Her heart is heavy for all those directly impacted by the virus and for the devastating economic challenge posed to many small businesses. Even more importantly she feels for the families and animals at risk from the resulting illness. Yet, she works to improve her product and says, “I will keep a lower price point, as the consumer sale of pre-orders allowed me to purchase at a larger volume from my supplier, thus lowering the price. I also allow for great margins for my retail partners in USA and abroad who stock I Rock N Rides, especially for Christmas. It really is a perfect gift.”
Keeping Herself in the Saddle
Inspiration comes for Leah during her own saddle time. She also understands the value of customer service which helps her stay connected to people while she works on her product. “I make customer service my #1 priority every day. I’ve worked for some big Pharma companies and product manufacturers in the equine industry. I’ve been trained by the best. I try to under promise and over deliver. Everyone remembers how you make them feel. Personally, running a company and creating a product is a long and lonely, emotional road. I have to have my horses in my life. Competing in cowhorse events, reining, and roping keeps my mind healthy. I also joined two ladies’ riding groups so horse camping and trail rides are super important in my life.
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What the Future Holds for I Rock N Ride Products
Innovation and meeting her customer’s needs drives the product improvements and design features. Leah describers her vision, “Currently I’m working on solar modifications to this speaker for all day riding or camping. As well as a very low-priced option in a different design, but still durable for the rider. Later this year we might release some new colors and printed attachment straps for the I Rock N Ride.”
Are you looking to snag a great deal right now? Leah says, “We’re currently offering a half price unit for the extended pre-order sale on both the Aqua and Sable colors.” You can check out the offer < through this link.
Leah Inspires Others
Getting started for Leah was not easy. She didn’t know anything about manufacturing or electronics, but did have a vast background in horse product sales for big companies. She is also an accomplished equestrian in both the Western and English worlds.
Leah describes her reason for coming up with I Rock N Ride, “I created this product in 2010, for any saddle, for any type of riding, to allow connectivity if required and to be safe in the saddle. Initially, I needed it while riding alone and having a particularly terrible period in my life. I suddenly found myself alone in my early 30’s after my husband died of Melanoma, then my father died unexpectedly. My life changed and my goals changed from raising a family to focusing on myself and horses. I got back into competition and ladies trail ride groups. But when I was alone, I was having severe anxiety. So I would wire my desk top speakers to my saddle and found the horses totally dug the music.”
Incorporating music into her riding proved to be soothing but there was a need for more hands-free tech in the saddle. Leah explains, “I just needed a way to send texts, or call someone. On top of as having music as white noise and energizing sounds while riding my horses.” Thus, I Rock N Ride was born.
Leah Lane’s Charge to Anyone with an Idea
She leaves us with this charge, “I love to encourage ANYone with an idea to run with it. If you can’t stop thinking about it, DO NOT give it up. The internet is literally at our fingertips. It’s where we can go to find out what we don’t know. When I was caring for my husband during his short battle, my biggest take away from him was to do something, create something, be there in people’s lives before it’s too late and you cannot. I love the look on my young customer’s faces when they say, ‘You created this?’ I love to encourage them and everyone to DO IT! Don’t take no for an answer. I failed so many times with my designs and for so many years. Eventually, it turned into a fight I wasn’t going to lose.”
This story is part of a series of local horse business spotlights to help get business galloping again as we move forward from the shutdown. Support our local business to get them galloping again!
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