Rider kinematics on a real horse and a horse simulator
Training on a horse simulator is getting more common. The study of Walker et al. (2016) shows that a racehorse simulator can give a learning jockey a save environment to develop the basic skills of riding. However, the simulator fails to train the rider in the perturbations of the horse his movements and therefor the benefits are limited.
This 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 showed 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. This racehorse simulator therefor is not able to help the rider develop the ability to anticipate on the unexpected movements of the horse. However, the simulator gives the rider a save way to develop a good riding technique.
Expert opinion by Annet Veen
This results are found 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 horse simulator. Also, one type of simulator is used during this research, it is possible that different simulator can 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.