New High-Performance Riding Simulator
By Mark Andrews
A novel horse-riding simulator offers new possibilities for rider training and welfare of the ridden horse. The simulator was developed at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT) in Finland, as part of a project to monitor body and brain behaviour of both professional and non-professional riders.
The new equipment was unveiled at the Saddle Research Trust’s 4th International Conference, held online on December 11, 2021. LUT Professor Heikki Handroos PhD showed how engineering science has been applied to develop the next generation horseback riding simulator.
“This realistic horseback riding simulator can benefit riders with different skills in many ways,” says Professor Handroos.
“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.”
The high-performance novel robotic motion platform has been designed to provide the necessary motion capabilities for the simulator in all gaits including jumping. The current test simulator is programmed with motions which were measured from advanced level dressage and show jumping horses while being ridden by advanced riders.
The new simulator also has promise as a hippotherapy tool. “It has the potential to enable the ideal gait pattern to be programmed for each patient,” explains Professor Handroos. “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.
“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.”
To find out more about the Saddle Research Trust Conference click HERE.
Published with the kind permission of Mark Andrews, Equine Science Update.