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How can the mechanical horse help with your riding?

Really interesting that one person commented on a social media video saying that one session on the simulator does not result in being a better rider as its false rhythmic movement. Unsurprisingly i disagree!

What makes someone a better rider? Practice? Instruction? Knowledge? Understanding?

Practice does not make perfect; only perfect practice makes perfect. So repetition of doing the same thing again and again won't be helpful. This was drilled into me by a polo coach who always made sure that when practicing hitting balls to only swing if the ball is in the right position- learn to put yourself in the right position so the swing stays the same, dont practice a bad swing to make up for a bad starting position. There's no point repeatedly doing leg yields if its not working or jumping if you always fall forward. That's not to say when learning a new skill you dont need to practice, i'm talking about established riders or those who dont know what they're meant to be practicing or just cant get it no matter how much they try.

Having coaches or instructors are great but do they make you ride better in your session or generally? I hear from my clients a lot that they can correct something in a lesson but as soon as they are on their own are unsure what to do or how to do it.

Knowledge? I have lots of that with horse and rider biomechanics but it doesnt make me a good rider!

Understanding? Yes - but how do you get that if practice, instruction and knowledge doesnt help? By being able to see, feel and be explained what you are currently doing and how it should be.

This is where the simulator is unrivalled - we can video you from different angles at different gaits trying different things. Short of putting a horse on a treadmill I dont see a way of gathering this much information on a real horse. Never mind all the sensors which gives even more feedback. Then we can go through it together and investigate what you do what you do and how you do it.

In the rider physio session we can then start to correct it off the horse with physio treatment and exercises. Imperfect practice on the mechanical horse to exaggerate certain movements to help you learn and feel what you should be doing- which in no way would be safe to do on a moving horse! Or be a nice experience in the saddle whilst bouncing around. Again another tick to the mechanical horse.

Then maybe you will have some more understanding of your current riding position and movement and how you can improve. It wont suddenly make you a better rider but will give you more understanding, you will have specific exercises to do off the horse and things to think about on the horse. It will take time to strengthen/mobilise/learn the new way of riding (normally sitting straight or equal) and then you will start to be a better rider!

Clients report after even one session how much different their horse went after the session. On follow ups i always reassess the movements at walk/trot/canter to see the change from the start and end of the last session. And nearly always it has at least maintained, if not improved, the changes we implemented. In my mind this is starting to become a better rider.

Is riding the simulator like riding a real horse? Kind of.... but its as close to the real thing out there at the mo! Racewood are constantly looking to improve the models to make them more realistic but they aren't designed to replace riding a real horse- check out the lastest dressage and eventer horses. They can help with training, fitness, rehabilitation, endurance and confidence in the same way a flight simulator is not the same as flying a plane but teaches pilots how to fly before they take to the skies!

I get not everyone will be a fan of the mechanical horse sessions and feel riding a real horse is the best thing to improve. But as an equine physio i can tell you that lots of horse problems stem from the rider - is doing more of the same really helping your horse?

Check out the videos on Facebook or Instagram to see how we use the mechanical horse at Racewood HQ in Tarporley, Cheshire and the improvements that we make with riders.

Contact 07967 025775 to book in for an initial assessment (£125) and start the journey #progressnotperfection #beabetterriderforyourhorse


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