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Robert Ferrand 1967 -1970

Filmmaker / Inventor

A 50 Year History


Producer, Writer, Director, DP

Mass Communications The Beatles “Hey Jude”




1992 1993


London to Calcutta


1994 11,000 Miles Overland 1973

U.S. PATENT 5,375,397



Mystery out of Saddle Fitting


Dressage & CT

Mystery out of Saddle Fitting

1996 1997

U.S. PATENT 6,344,262



1998 1999








2000 2001 2002



WOODEN RESPIRATOR Designer, Craftsman



GIBBOUS FILM PRODUCTIONS Multi-Media Production 35mm, 2 ¼, 4x5, 16mm, Video



U.S. PATENT 6,948,256

2006 Director of Photography


2007 2008 2009





2011 2012

Inventor / Founder / CEO




2013 2014 2015 2016

“PROTECTING HORSES FROM SADDLES” U.S. PATENTS 1. JP PATENT #2007313348 2. EP PATENT #1754427 3. JP PATENT #2006297123 4. JP PATENT #2005087747 5. US PATENT #20040139546 6. CN PATENT #1500455 7. US PATENT #20030051292 8. US PATENT 20010029628 9. EP PATENT 1101481 10.US PATENT #5906017 11. US PATENT #5802640 12. CN PATENT #1146329 13. EP PATENT #0656183 14. US PATENT #5023967 15. CA PATENT #2135243 16. CA PATENT #1332652 17. US PATENT #5345629 18. US PATENT #55323500 19. US PATENT #5279010 20. US PATENT #5138729


2017 2018


Contact: – 650-576-3334 –


#8 ROBERT FERRAND – INVENTOR / FILMMAKER A 50 Year Biography Growing up in Santa Cruz, California, Robert Ferrand remembers three pivotal events in his life. The first, was growing up with a family friend living in an Iron Lung. The second, was in a barn with the smell of horses, hay and saddle leather and this began his fascination with horses. The third, was aboard the Sailing Ship Balclutha, with the smell of Stockholm tar and the sea, and there his maritime career began. However, it would take another thirty years before he could reconnect with horses and rocky trails….and another few decades to return to producing maritime films. In the late 60’s, Robert began studying International Business and Mass Communications at American University in Washington D.C.. The late 60’s in D.C. provided many photo opportunities, which sparked an interest in Photojournalism. He then went on to study Film and Photography at the University of Aston, in England. By chance, Robert got lucky while in a youth hostel in London. Some students sold him what appeared to be an invitation to a Beatles concert. Well, it was for real and for $2.50 he purchased a ticket to the video taping of “Hey Jude”. Since he had his cameras, he photographed the event and had a “Scoop” Portfolio, at 20 years of age. He used that portfolio to get an assignment to photograph the “Marco Polo” 11,000-mile overland route to India. He traveled through all the “Current Hot Spots”, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal in 1968. He then took another photographic assignment for Club-Med, traveling to Egypt, Israel and Greece. This trip provided him a significant international photographic portfolio.

Robert returned to American University, on scholarship, furthering his study of film and mass communication. He then made a fateful move that would change his life. With a significant photographic portfolio under his arm, he went to National Geographic to apply for a job. He met Robert Gilka, Director of Photography, and showed him his work. Mr. Gilka looked at the photos and asked, “Do you know how to rebuild an engine on a car”. Robert said, “No, sir, I am applying for a job as a Photojournalist. Mr. Gilka said, “Right, so if I send you to Africa and your Land Rover breaks down, what are you going to do, call your mommy? Robert was shocked. Mr. Gilka went on to say, “Look, you have a photographic eye, but you are wet behind the ears. Get rid of your cameras, learn to work with your hands and come back and see me”. Robert understood that he had just been given a great insight, for a snotty nose kid. With a new vision, of what he thought he needed to do get a job with National Geographic, Robert returned to San Francisco and took the unusual step of studying boatbuilding, to significantly expand his manual skills. During these years of apprenticeship, he learned how to design and build boats using lightweight wood construction techniques and the wide variety of skills required to build and repair wood boats. This study permitted him to become an accomplished wood craftsman and in 1973, Robert opened a wooden boat restoration company, “Gibbous Boat Work”, catering exclusively to traditional wood yachts.

By yet another stroke of luck, while restoring the yacht, Farida, Robert was doing research on bottom paints, when someone suggested that he speak with the man on the brokendown Chinese Junk, at the end of the next dock. So, with no idea what he was walking into, Robert went over to meet the owner, Mr. Harry Dring. As they say the rest is history, literally. Harry Dring was the Curator of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, the, then, world’s largest floating maritime museum. Mr. Dring was the man that actually saved the “Balclutha”, this same ship Robert had remembered as a child.

Mr. Dring took Robert under his wing and expanded Robert’s view of the world from yachts to the United States Merchant Marine. Mr. Dring was a pretty good photographer, himself, however he did not shoot 16mm. Robert became Dring’s 16mm shooter for this collection of ships. In fact, Mr. Dring provided Robert, his wife’s, ticket, when the Liberty Ship was steamed out of the fleet. The seeds for the film, “Lessons of the Last Liberty,” were sown, 45 years ago. During these years, Robert used is photographic skills to also shoot commercially in all formats: 35mm, 21/4, 4 x 5 and 16mm as well as video, producing a number award winning documentary films. “The Last Liberty”

“Last of the Liberties”

Concurrently, by still yet another stroke of luck, in 1977, Robert learned that David Crosby and Graham Nash of the rock band Crosby, Stills, & Nash wanted to build a respirator to take a friend, who had been confined to an Iron Lung for twenty-five years, sailing on David’s yacht Mayan. This was the same man, Dr. Duncan Holbert, with whom Robert had grown up.

Robert accepted the challenge and designed and built a Voice Activated Turbo Charged Superlight Wooden Lung with Intelligence. During this research, he took another unusual step and rather than using the bellows which were used on the antiquated Iron Lungs, he used a newly developed Apple II computer to control the air valves that adjusted the respiration. At the same time, he learned that people confined to Iron Lungs usually develop bedsores, so he added a computer-controlled air mattress to the design, to prevent bedsores. “Wooden Lung”

“Ed Roberts in his Iron Lung”

When Robert told his mentor, Harry Dring about the idea of building a wooden respirator, Dring said, “Ferrand, we are not interested in wooden Kimonos, we are interested in ships.” David and Graham lost interest in this project, but Robert continued the research at Stanford University on the Effect of Pressure on Blood Flow in Mammalian Tissue, to better understand how to build a system to prevent pressure sores on humans. In the late 80’s, Robert discovered a then $500,000,000 rental market for high-tech “specialty” hospital beds, in the U.S., Robert saw a major “market opportunity, because he understood that he had, already, developed the computer-controlled air system necessary.

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In, yet, another turn of fate, while Producing a brochure for a Shipyard in San Francisco, Robert looked at the elevator on an Aircraft Carrier, and realized there was a totally different way to build a hospital bed. Employing his maritime skills and furthering his research to build a state-of-the-art “Specialty” hospital bed, Robert actually went out and asked nurses what they needed to provide better care. With this knowledge, he designed and personally built the state-of-the-art computercontrolled plastic “specialty” hospital bed. This bed 1. stood up, so patients could walk out, 2. tilted side to side, to reduce and treat respiratory complications, 3. had an articulated hip section, so nurses did not need to lift the patients, and 4. had a computer-controlled air mattress for the prevention and treatment of bed sores, originally developed for the Wooden Lung.

Being in the Silicon Valley, In 1987, he founded American Life Support Technology, and secured multiple rounds of venture capital funding of over $16,000,000 from Allstate Insurance, Hambrecht & Quist, Montgomery Medical Ventures, Humana Hospitals and Vencor Hospitals. As well as, an additional 16,000,000 from vendors. Robert has received over two dozen U.S. and International Patents for this Patient Support System.

“Airlogic Specialty Hospital Bed”

“Airlogic Bed Nurse Testimonials”

It was during the bed’s research and development phase, Robert remembers stating in front of his office, when his Angel Investor asks, “What are you going to do with the money?” Robert said, “I am going to get into horses”….prophetic words. During these years, Robert began developing a computer pressure mapping system to better understand how the pressure was distributed under the patient. At the same time, living in Woodside, California, premier horse country, he then returned to his earlier fascination with horses. However, when Robert went out to buy a saddle, he discovered that no one had a viable method to fit a saddle to a horse. Understanding that saddle sores on horses were caused by the same physiological problems as bedsores on humans, Robert connected the dots. He retired, as Chairman and Director of Research and Development, from the bed company and began focusing his prior skills and research on saddle fitting.

In 1992, Robert founded a new company called SADDLETECH and developed the world’s first computer saddle pressure mapping system and received U.S. Patent #5,379,397. Robert spent the next few years, presenting this new measurement system to saddle makers and discovered something rather interesting – virtually none of the saddles fit the animals. No one could explain why, but the saddle makers refused to consider the data, because it revealed many product defects.

In 1996, applying what he learned decades earlier building boats, he invented the SADDLETECH GAUGE, that measures the polyform shape of the horse’s back and corresponding saddle with angles and arcs, and he received U.S. Patent #6,334,262. By employing the world’s first “calibrated” animal and saddle measurement, Robert discovered that the animal’s backs deflect a “measurable” amount under load, caused by gravity.

He then invented the “Farrand-Ferrand Formula” that compensates for the weight of the load relative to the weight of the animal. (graph on below) Employing both inventions permitted the “Scientific Method” and an “Evidence Based Method” to fit saddles. This was the first time in history that physics, physiology, mathematics and peer review clinical research was applied to prevent saddle related injury.

These inventions was followed in 1997, by the SADDLETECH SIZING STAND to build measured saddle databases, so that horses could be matched to saddles, by mathematically determining the “percentage” of probability of fit. In 1999, the SADDLETECH ADJUSTABLE JIG was developed to make traditional western saddles as well as molded plywood bars to SADDLETECH MEASUREMENTS. In 2001, he developed an attachment to the SADDLETECH ADJUSTABLE JIG that permits thermoplastic "ORTHOTICS" to be made to SADDLETECH MEASUREMENTS to compensate for poorly fitting saddles and he received U.S. Patent #6,948,256. In 2003 on, Robert is developed a new improved SADDLETECH GAUGE Mk II, III, IV, V, VI, VII


“Protecting Horses from Saddles”

In an ironic twist, in 2010, after developing the most advanced saddle measurement devices and manufacturing methods, Robert developed a Military Pack Saddle for Special Forces, that does not require measurement to fit the saddle to the animal. Through the saddle measurement research, it become obvious that an adjustable “Load distribution array” was required to fit and wide variety of animals. Robert employed state-of-the-art NX software, finite element analysis and rapid prototype technology and invented a revolutionary new pack saddle that does not require measurement to fit the saddle. The idea was to use the tons of plastic brought in by the military operations to make high tech recycle plastic pack saddles for the 1 Billon Pack Animals who feed 6 Billion poorest people of the world. Donkey, Mule, or Yak, the economy of the Developing Word rests of their backs. The concept was to be a modern “Care Package” to promote America in the developing world. “Scientific Pack Transportation” Waxing philosophical, after 50 years: the dumb luck of being able to photograph the taping of “Hey Jude”, provided a “scoop portfolio” in 1968, that permitted the 11,000-mile overland route to India assignment, which provided the portfolio, to have the audacity, at 21 years of age, to apply for a job at National Geographic, as a Photo Journalist. However, the sage advice given to him, by Robert Gilka, at NatGeo: “Get rid of your cameras and learn to work with your hands” was pivotal. Without manual dexterity, Robert never would have met Harry Dring. He would certainly not have been able to build the Wooden Lung, which evolved into the Specialty Hospital Bed, which evolved into the Saddle Measurement System and Pack Saddle. Each invention creating their own documentary films, in their own right. However, for Harry Dring, a conservator of ships, working with one hands was significant. Without those manual skills, Robert would not have been able to understand Harry Dring’s message or receive the ticket to be on board the Liberty Ship to be able use his photographic skills to tell the tale of Merchant Mariners called “Lessons of the Last Liberty”.

CONTACT: 650-576-3334 –

Profile for Robert Ferrand

RF Bio a 50 year history  

RF Bio a 50 year history