Rider kinematics on a real horse and a horse simulator
Training horseriding on a simulator is getting more common and popular. Earlier studies show that a racehorse simulator can give a learning jockey a safe environment to develop the basic skills of riding.
However, the simulator fails to train the rider in the perturbations of the horse's movements and therefore the benefits are limited.
The current study measured 6 experienced jockeys galloping on a racehorse and a racehorse simulator. Peak force in both left and right stirrup and movement of the upper body were measured.
The results show large differences in the force measured in the stirrups.
The force on the stirrups where twice as high riding a real horse and were found asymmetrical with an increased force on the opposite side to the lead leg. Because the cantering horse is pushing his trunk and pelvis away from the lead leg, the jockey is pushing more on this opposite side to keep his balance and stay close to the midline of the horse.
For the simulator, the forces were less and almost symmetrical.
The simulator is likely to improve the stability of the rider in vertical direction but lacks to simulate the lateral varying.
Therefore, a racehorse simulator is not able to help the rider develop the ability to anticipate on the unexpected movements of the horse. However, the simulator does give the rider a safe way to develop a good riding technique.
Expert opinion by Science-Equine.com
The results in this study are obtained using a racehorse simulator and only during canter.
Further research for jumping and dressage and movements in the walk and trot is needed to fully understand the benefits for the rider training on a horseriding simulator.
Also, only one type of simulator was used during this research - it is possible that different simulators may have more (or less) benefits for the rider.
> From: Walker et al., J Biomech 49 (2016) 3368-3374. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd. Click here for the online summary.