The Interactive Dressage Simulator, by Racewood Simulators of Cheshire, England, actually simulates a life-like horse! With its capacity for movements from the simple walk up to extremely advanced movements, such as the piaffe, pirouettes and 1-tempis (stride by stride flying changes), this extraordinary machine is already being hailed by dressage riders and trainers, such as Barbro Ask-Upmark. The interactive screen shows the digital horse doing piaffe, passage and flying changes as the mechanical horse goes through the paces, responding to the rider’s cues and enabling riders to develop a subtler yet more accurate feel within an accelerated learning curve. The simulator is incredibly useful for instruction; it enables the rider (and instructor) to learn a lot in a very short space of time. There are five key developments within the Dressage Simulator:
1. Saddle Sensors: The sensors situated beneath the rider’s saddle can inform the rider (and instructor), by visual feedback on screen, of how the rider’s weight is distributed. The rider’s balance and posture can be clearly indicated by the sensors’ response to the rider’s weight moving forwards, backwards and sideways, throughout all the gaits of the horse and within the range of simulated activities – whether free-riding or undertaking the dressage tests.
The interactive simulator and screen will provide feedback on movements, so the rider can improve his/her marks. It is possible to complete the test and then play back on the screen.
This facility is greatly appreciated by the riders and instructors because it enables posture, positioning and balance to be corrected, thus improving the rider’s seat and comfort during riding. The interactive feedback allows for immediate correction and the ability to monitor whether correction is sustained. Both rider and horse directly benefit from the correct distribution of weight carried through the saddle.
2. Head and Neck Movements: There are sensors positioned on the horse’s head and neck, which allow the rider (and instructor) to see when there is correct flexion in the horse’s head and neck by the correct use of the reins.
3. Lateral Action: The Dressage Horse Simulator simulates the lateral body lean of a real horse when engaged in walk and trot. Left and right leg canter are also possible. The visual imagery on screen enhances the rider’s sensation of the horse’s lateral movements.
4. Leg Sensors: There are three sets of sensors attached to each side of the simulator’s lower body. These sensors allow the rider to control the movements of the horse simulator by correct leg pressure to start the walk, to moving through trot and canter and all the actions the rider wants to practise; the horse can go straight into canter from halt.
5. Interactive Software: The interactive simulator and screen will provide feedback on movements, so the rider can improve his/her marks. It is possible to complete the test and then play back on the screen. Head & Neck Sensors improves riders feel for accurate flexion.
For more information about this remarkable new technology, check out their site at: http://www.racewood.com/dressage.php. Because, the future is now.