Ask H&H: riding simulators

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  • Q: MY physio agrees that I am ready to return to riding after a hip operation, but I am nervous about getting back in the saddle. I have heard about tuition on mechanical horses — where can I find out more?
    TS, Cambridgeshire

    RIDING simulators can offer all the benefits of improving one’s riding technique and are ideal for anyone whose confidence needs developing.

    British Dressage (BD) approved trainer Michelle Cogger, who helped develop the riding simulator with manufacturer Racewood, says the mechanical horses are perfect schoolmasters.

    “Tuition on the simulators is intensive, which means clients quickly progress,” she explained.

    “We can concentrate on core stability and posture, without worrying about what the horse is doing. My clients range from beginners to advanced dressage riders, who find tuition on a simulator useful for improving their seat, balance and effectiveness.”

    Michelle now has three simulators at her bases in Sussex and Essex, and initially approached Racewood when she heard about its polo and racing machines.

    “An imbalanced rider can have a detrimental effect on the horse’s back,” she said.

    “The latest riding model is very advanced — it has five gaits, including a slow walk, responds to correct leg pressure, has neck bend and can lean to the left or right. It is also so sensitive to rein pressure that it responds to half-halts.”

    Lessons on a simulator would be ideal for anyone coming back to riding fitness after an operation.

    “You will probably find you are tight in the hip and pelvis, and may be nervous of hurting the area,” Michelle advised.

    “But if you work with a good instructor, you will find the simulators of enormous benefit. I would also recommend that anyone who rides regularly includes unmounted exercise into their daily routine — 20 minutes a day can help you with posture and alignment.”

    Who uses them?

    DAVID HOLMES, BD chief executive, is a fan of the machines, while David Hunt, president of the International Dressage Trainers Club, and Jill Day, BD’s director of training, have recommended that some of their clients have tuition with Michelle.

    Shardeloes Farm Equestrian Centre in Buckinghamshire has installed a model which features graphic simulation, and equestrian manager Jo Wnekowska says the machine has revolutionised the centre’s approach to teaching and learning.


    Michelle Cogger Tel: 07803 085866 Lessons from £30

    Racewood Tel: 01829 732006 www.racewood.com

    Shardeloes Farm Equestrian Centre www.shardeloesfarm.com

    This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (12 June, ’08)

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