Forget mucking stalls. Don’t worry about the rising price of hay, or whether your horse has enough turnout. These horses come with an on/off switch.
Interactive mechanical horses were first developed to help jockeys recover from injuries suffered during racing and jockeys are still one of the major users of these simulators. However, manufacturers have begun to target other genres of riding, touting the advantages that riding a simulated horse can bring to both novices and experienced equestrians. Now polo players can hone their skills, dressage riders can experience flying changes, passage and piaffe, and soon riders will be able to practice their jumping skills, too.
Exercises beyond the typical horseback riding positions can be applied with stretching, strengthening and balancing in a safe controlled manner. Riders can increase their strength, stability, flexibility, balance, confidence and over all well being.
Bill Greenwood the Managing Director of Racewood Ltd developed the first Equiciser in 1990 following an approach from a leading jockey who wanted to maintain his riding skills while recovering from injury.
The Racewood Simulators run off of electricity and is available in eight different models (soon to be nine). The interactive models come with a full video element that allows you to interact with pre-programmed environments, sort of like the car racing games in arcades.
The neck is fully movable and the horse has sensors to detect “on the girth” and “behind the girth” sensors.
The Polo Pony Simulator helps riders practice their shots. This version includes mouth sensors that respond to realistic ‘checks’ on the reins, to bring the machine to a steadier canter or to a complete stop; just like a well-schooled pony! To highlight a player’s correct position in the saddle when playing their shots, additional sensors are located on the mane and beneath the saddle at the ‘knee role’ position. A light is illuminated when the correct sensors are contacted, confirming that the ‘brace position’ is applied.
The best part of the Polo Pony Simulator is the ball delivery system. Using an artificial polo field that works on a conveyor belt, the polo ball is constantly returned past the polo pony after every shot. A player can hit up to fifty shots per minute providing he has the strength, skill and stamina to match the machine. It is perhaps this feature that makes practising polo on the simulator so compelling for the experienced player.
The Equicizer Simulator
The first Equicizer was developed in 1982 by Eclipse Award winning Jockey/inventor Frank Lovato, Jr. Frank, who always felt there should be a riding simulator, built himself a horse made of wood and springs to simulate riding as a means to rehabilitate himself from a badly fractured leg he had received from a racing accident.
The Equicizer requires no tools or electricity. The simulator’s spring designed mechanism is activated and controlled by the rider’s level of effort and fitness. When in motion, the Equicizer simulates a real horse’s movement, allowing riders to exercise, stretch and practice technique and improve body posture and positioning, fitness and confidence in a safe controlled manner. It provides a safe low impact exercise. Riders can use any saddle or ride bareback, with or with out stirrups, use their hips, or “core” seat, and leg muscles to initiate the walk, trot or canter motion. This exercise works all those horse riding muscles in your legs, abdomen and back.
Each Equicizer is entirely hand-crafted item, built from quality wood and hardware, then padded and covered with plush durable carpeting available in a variety of colors. Its unique features include a hand-carved head cut from select wood, with a beautiful deep wood grain finish in complementary colors.
Watch Tobey Maguire train for his role of Red Pollard in the movie Seabiscuit. The Equicizer was used extensively throughout the movie, both to train Tobey and in the close ups of him racing.
These look like a lot of fun. But as for me, I think I prefer my horses to be flesh and blood. For one thing, these mechanical horses are a mere 15.2 hands, way too small for my long legs. And I’d miss the feeling of wind in my hair and sun on my back. Not to mention, I like my horse to have opinions, too.