Next-generation sim horse promises actual equine motion

The new simulator showing a rider in the jumping position.
The new simulator showing a rider in the jumping position. © Saddle Research Trust

A new state-of-the-art horse riding simulator is to be unveiled at the Saddle Research Trust’s 4th International Conference next month.

The high-performance novel robotic motion platform of the “Horzim Project” has been designed to provide the necessary motion capabilities for the simulator in all gaits, including jumping. The ground-breaking advance from previous generations of simulators is the extended, freely programmable motion capability, that provides a real-life learning tool for riders by making it possible to replicate the actual motion of real, individual horses. The current test simulator is programmed with motions that were measured from advanced level dressage and show jumping horses whilst being ridden by advanced riders.

In the first of four comprehensive conference sessions at the virtual conference on December 11, Professor Heikki Handroos will present the most important outcomes of the “Horzim Project” to show how engineering science has been applied to develop the next-generation simulator.

In “Applying the Science”, Handroos, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology in Finland, will show how the realistic horseback riding simulator can benefit riders with different skills in many ways.

“Beginners can learn how to sit on the saddle during the basic gaits before starting to ride a real horse, which reduces injury risk and improves the horse welfare.

“The simulator can also carry heavier riders to help them to access the hobby with reduced welfare risks. For more advanced riders the technology will enable them to practice and enhance their skills as often as they wish,” Handroos said.

It also has potential as a hippotherapy tool, with the ideal gait pattern able to be programmed for each patient.

A rider in position for a collected canter on the new simulator.
A rider in position for a collected canter on the new simulator. © Saddle Research Trust

“We should also be able to use sensors to monitor the rider, while the simulator is performing different gait patterns. The same sensor technology could also be used in riding schools to monitor the learning curves of riding students,” Handroos said.

Our next project is going to be on sensing the rider’s bio-signals when riding the simulator and intelligent processing of sensor data to assess the progress of riding school students or hippotherapy patients.”

Professor Handroos will join world-renowned researchers and vets at the Conference, which is exploring the “Welfare and Performance of the Ridden Horse: The Future”.

The inaugural session “Applying the Science” will be preceded by a keynote presentation from Hilary Clayton on the past, present and future of research in this field. The following sessions will cover “Through the Lens”, “The Horse as a Stakeholder” and “Hot Topics”.

» Register for the conference

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