Learn to Ride Without a Horse
 By Winniefield Park   •   11th Jun 2016   •   1,334 views   •   0 comments

Quite a long time ago, my mother wished there was a way to teach someone to ride, without actually putting them on a horse. Beginners as we know, make all sorts of mistakes. They pull on the reins inadvertently, bounce when they shouldn’t, lose their balance and do all sorts of things that might annoy and perhaps even make a horse uncomfortable. That’s not anyone’s fault, and most people learn and get the body awareness and strength they need quickly. But, it would still be nice to spare school horses, and ensure that riders are getting a good start safely. It would be easier on the horse, the rider and the instructors nerves in some cases!

Back in the early 80s, jockey Frank Lovato, Jr. had the same sort of thought. He was recovering from a riding accident and needed a way to safely rehabilitate his healing fractured leg. So he built a wood and metal ‘horse’. When other jockeys saw it, the idea caught on and since then the Equicizer evolved from a way for jockeys to practice and strengthen, to helping all types of riders develop better riding skills.

The benefits of therapeutic horseback riding are well known. But, keeping a horse, especially for one person, in some situations is nearly impossible. Equicizer can be used alongside traditional therapies for both riders in rehabilitation and those with other health or disability problems. No stabling is required, so an Equicizer can stand waiting in the corner with the other equipment until needed. And Equicizer can work all day. There’s no need to worry that an unbalanced or unskilled rider will wear it out. For a rider with an injury, regaining strength on an Equicizer may be safer than riding a real horse. It also comes in pony or horse sizes.

For riders, there are lots of reasons why an Equicizer could help build skills. Again, the Equicizer doesn't get tired. The same skill can be practiced repeatedly without worry of it tiring or getting frustrated. When riding is impossible, the Equicizer can provide a way to stay fit and keep learning, without a horse. It can be ridden in any type of tack and used to practice many different skills. And, the instructor can be right along side of the horse, helping the rider find their position and correcting mistakes quickly.

The Equicizer may the most well known, but isn't the only riding simulator. The Ridemaster is more for riders than non-riders and features three screens for a 3-D experience riding dressage tests, lessons or exams. There are versions for polo players and other sports. The Racewood Riding Simulators also make use of a screen to make the experience more real for the rider. There are simulators designed for dressage, jumping, eventing, therapeutic riding, polo and racing. These simulators can even be programmed to fall and refuse a jump.

Simulators aren’t just used for strengthening and skill building. They are used in movie making too. Toby MaGuire rode and Equicizer in the movie Secretariat. Watch carefully and you’ll see the Equicizer’s ears in some shots.

So what do you think? Do you think you can learn to ride on a simulator? Useful tool or high-tech gimmick?
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