How to Ride When the Barn is Closed for Quarantine
Many people who board their horses have found themselves unable to ride due to the quarantine. Boarder barns nationwide have been closed to all but essential workers caring for the animals in an effort to dampen the spread of the COVID 19 virus, so those who still want to ride may seek other methods of riding without having access to a live horse. Here's a look at some of the horseless options to satisfy your appetite for riding, if you want to something more than the hilarious simulated riding this creative posted to YouTube. Horseback riding simulators can be non-mechanical, mechanical or virtual; and many have taken advantage of U.S. patent protection, safeguarding their creators' rights.
Non-Mechanical Horseback Riding Simulator
The simplest form of simulator is a hobby horse. This favorite toy has long delighted children everywhere, and is still widely enjoyed today. Hobbyhorsing competitions can draw crowds, so it is no surprise that inventors continue to tinker with the basic design; adding twenty-first century bells and whistles to the simple broomstick-and-horse-head model. One new entrant into this category is the Texas Ride - a hobby horse toy tricked out with electronic components that can make smoke come out of the horses' nostrils, the eyes light up and create a horse whinny. A U.S. patent application describing the improved hobby horse published on March 26, 2020.
Non-mechanical horse simulators with a full body that a person can sit on have also been developed that can be used to teach riding, help with rehabilitation, and prepare for hippotherapy. An great example is the Equicizer (pictured above). It was invented by Frank Lovato Jr., a jockey who broke his leg and needed a way to prepare to get back in the saddle again as he recuperated. There wasn't any equipment that met his needs, so he came up with an apparatus that would help him regain his strength, flexibility and balance on a horse. He build it himself for his own use, but word got out, and soon he began to sell his Equicizer. Purchasers include people in the horse racing industry, and also others who want a riding experience with similar motion to a moving horse for rehabilitation. His beautiful horse simulators are made of wood and springs in Ohio. They are fully customizable in terms of color of body, mane and tail; so you can design it to look like a favorite mount, or your dream horse, if you don't own one yourself yet!
Mechanical Horseback Riding Simulator
For those with deep pockets, a very high-end mechanical type of riding simulator comes to us from England. Racewood equestrian simulators include mechanization that allows vertical and horizontal movement mimicking sensations a rider feels from a horse body in the walk, trot, canter, gallop and halt. The movement generation mechanism is protected by U.S. Patent No. 7,749,088. The full-scale mountable horse is placed in front of a display screen that can project custom views of a dressage practice test; a jumping course or an eventing course depending upon the model selected. For polo players, a model is available that includes balls and a cage so that a player can practice not only riding, but also taking a shot from a moving horse. The simulators are used in riding schools, where instructors can analyze and assess the rider by monitoring feedback from the simulator's leg, seat and rein sensors. The pressure and timing of the rider's aides are normally invisible to the trainer and not quantifiable, but this system makes all of the riders signals to the horse discernible. In this way, Racewood simulators are very useful to improve a rider's technique. The simulators are also available for purchase to individuals who can afford their five or six-figure pricetags.
Virtual Horseback Riding Simulator
Another type of horse simulator is an adaption for video games, allowing a player to go for a virtual ride. The air cushion accessory for the riding simulation that can sense motion of the players body when seated on it has been patented by Nintendo. U.S. Patent No. 8,277,327 includes claims both to a method of simulating horseback riding; and claims to a video game accessory.
So whether you prefer your horseless ride in the form of a toy; an electronic game, a non-mechanical horse or a fully mechanical one, options are available to horse enthusiasts even while sheltering in place.