Virginia Smith, the creator of Bed and Bale, has been riding for 40 years. She started riding at six years old after her dad bought her a retired racehorse. She kept this horse for a year, but her family had to sell him after moving house. However, her passion for horses didn’t go away. Aged nine, Virginia would sneak off to a barn down the road and put in eight hours a day of hard labour in exchange for a half-hour riding lesson. Always wanting to be around horses, she did this every summer until she was twelve. At 16 she started barrel racing and taking out trail rides. Ultimately Virginia was trying to ride anywhere anytime she could.
Focussing on Western riding, Virginia tried her hand at cattle penning, roping and worked on a cattle ranch looking after 650 head of cattle for some time. After being in the Western world for 30 years, she wanted to expand her knowledge and look at the English side of riding. Circa 2010, Virginia packed up her Western gear, bought a thoroughbred and got into the sport of 3 Day Eventing. This Olympic sport consists of three days and three phases – Dressage, Cross Country Jumping, and Show Jumping. This sport has been described as a triathlon for horses. Virginia was drawn to eventing because it had three distinct disciplines which she could try and then decide which one to focus on, but 11 years later, she has never left the sport. What fascinates Virginia to eventing is the way every day is challenging in its own way. Both the horse and the rider have to go through various types of mentality to complete the tasks, meaning you need to be very intuned with your horse’s feelings and behaviour and have a horse that can switch gears easily.
On the way back from an event, Virginia found herself stuck on the side of the road with a broken-down truck in an unfamiliar area. Not only did she have her competition horse with her, but that day, she had unexpectedly come across a yearling for sale that was too good an opportunity to pass up, and she had bought him on the spot.
Virginia was stuck at a gas station three hours away from her home in Pemberton, BC. Her truck was steaming away, and she had no idea what was wrong with it. Roadside assistance came and picked up her vehicle but could not take her or the trailer. Stuck and stressed, panic started to kick in. Her horses, one brand new to her, were beginning to get heated and agitated in the trailer, and her friend wouldn’t arrive for another three hours to pick them up. Sitting in the middle of a rural town she didn’t know anyone, nor could she think of anywhere close to take them to. By the time she got home, the horses had been in the trailer for eleven hours. She felt terrible and never wanted to relive this experience again.
Virginia had a few other roadside issues over the years and started to wonder if there was a better way. In 2017, she awoke from a dream that detailed the plan and design for a successful app for this very purpose. She saw the plan, execution and final product. She awoke that morning and to her dismay realized it was only a dream, she had to make it a reality. That day she researched app developers. One of the companies interested, who usually receive 100 ideas a day and only picks two, chose Virginia’s app to be one of them, and Bed & Bale was born.
Bed and Bale initially launched on Apple iOs, and after Virginia sold her car, among other things to raise more money, she paid for the Android development a year later. Right from the beginning, the Bed and Bale app has received lots of excellent feedback from people in the same situation as Virginia with a broken-down truck and in need of help, as well as people who owned properties and had people coming in asking for somewhere to stay.
The number one priority of the app is to be there for people when they are in an emergency, but it has been used to plot courses and find resources along the way. The app’s design is straightforward, so users can easily find out the number, website, email address, photos etc., of the business right away, which is essential in stressful situations. You can press one button, and you will be routed to the service you need instantaneously; this was critical for Virginia, as she knew exactly what that feeling felt like.
Today the Bed and Bale app has over 1,000 business sign-ups and over 13,000 users and is used every day, particularly in emergencies, including natural disasters such as escaping a wildfire or a flood.
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