A mechanical bay horse captured the crowd’s attention at Badminton Horse Trials last week. The horse simulator enables a rider to experience the sensation of the horse at walk, trot and canter while navigating it around a televised dressage arena. “You have to ride it with your legs,” explained Alison Miles of Equitech. “And you have to set up correctly for the corners. But it can do all levels of flat work and can be used by anybody and everybody.”
David Watson, a vet for 50 years and a long-standing British Horse Society member rode the simulator at Badminton: “I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and found it to be a realistic piece of machinery,” he said.
The simulator is created by Racewood and the software developed by Equitech Software. Vanessa Depre from the British Horse Society’s communications department said: “There have been racing and polo simulators before but on this one you can practice dressage tests endlessly without tiring your horse.” According to Depre the simulators are an effective training aid: “They are good for nervous riders and beginners but we hope professionals will use them as well.”
Full riding lessons can be conducted on the horse and it is good for developing riding fitness. “You can school yourself,” Miles explained, “You can improve your position and fitness without worrying what your horse is doing.” The machine also informs riders about their level of accuracy including circle sizes and proximity to markers.
Shardeloes Farm riding school have already purchased their dressage simulator and orders have been received from America and Ireland. The British Equestrian Federation has also expressed interest in the £35,000 machines. “The horse is good for everyone, from children in inner city schools to professionals such as William Fox-Pitt and all those in between,” Miles maintains.
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