SIM The Riding SIMulator

All riders experience hiccups in their journey with their horse, feeling stuck in some way or that communication between horse and rider isn’t working as well as it could. Some riders experience discomfort due to asymmetry in how they use their body, others are afraid of developing their skills in case it causes their horse confusion or discomfort while they are riding.

Ultimately many riders ask for too many things at the same time or think they are asking one thing without realising that the way they are using their body is asking for something else entirely. It’s not easy to fully understand and control our bodies in order to correctly influence the horse, and to make sure our requests are specific and clearly understood by the horse.

Learning some of these skills off the horse on a simulator allows assessment and experimentation without risk to the horse, to be able to explain the whys and wherefores of the subtle art of aiding. Esther finds it incredibly useful to be able to really show riders how using their body in different ways directly influences the horse, so preparing the rider better for riding their own horse.

Some people always question the motives behind rules. When learning to ride as a child and being told to put her heels down or her shoulders back, Esther often challenged the reason for this. As she did not have the best motor skills, part of asking why was to understand what she should be changing and how. The other part was wanting to know the reason behind everything because she was always curious.

When she started to work with young horses, she needed these questions answered more than ever. The blank canvas the youngsters presented did not respond to usual tricks or pre-installed buttons a rider just had to press. Training a young horse meant installing those buttons yourself and thinking about how to do that to get the desired result. This was an eye-opener for Esther, and when training more young horses and even some “problematic” horses, she often needed different ways of explaining to all kinds of horses what a rider meant with and with which aids. She found that only one aid should be applied to make the horse understand what was asked in order to make the horse connect that aid to the desired response.

When Esther started teaching humans as well as horses a while later, she had to be able to explain the aids for an exercise in such a way that her pupils understood what she meant. She sometimes needed a selection of explanations as not everybody's minds and bodies work the same way, something she had experienced herself in her own early riding days. Just regurgitating what a common riding term was (for instance: ‘heels down!’) was not sufficient; Esther had to delve into the biomechanics of what happens to a body when the heels go down, and also what effect this had on a horse. Her own horse Moreno, which she backed and trained herself, was extremely responsive and would not accept any stiffness or blockages of the rider, so he proved a great teacher and mirror for Esther.

Some riders ask for too many things at the same time or think they are asking one thing but are actually meaning something else entirely so it is vital they realise how to precisely request a specific response. Moreno was extremely clear about what he accepted in his rider’s aids so he was instrumental for Esther to learn how to be transparent and pass this on to her pupils. The effect on the horses when the riders improved was impressive, and much more significant than focussing only on the horse, which is often the conventional way of instruction.

Riding Simulator Videos

Esther uses a unique riding SIMulator (called SIM) to help riders with posture, absorption of the movement of the horse and awareness of how to be one with your horse. Esther can bring SIM to yards, riding-clubs or any group of riders that want to learn more about their biomechanics when riding and how they can improve their posture, symmetry and symbiosis with the horse.

SIM is different from any other riding SIMulator in the UK. It is not electronically operated, or computer programmed like most simulators, but is astonishingly effective in its simplicity. It uses the riders own kinetic energy for simulating the different gaits of the horse.  Esther will help you find the right balance and the movements you have to make to walk, trot and canter and both SIM and Esther will help you improve your position and absorption of movement. This new sense of balance and movement will help you to much more positively influence the way your horse moves.

When the rider finds the correct way of moving to walk, trot and canter, SIM will move, and feel, like a real horse. The magic happens when the rider cannot only make the accurate movement but can also absorb what SIM is giving back. This is where the problem lies for most riders: they struggle to be yielding enough to be able to absorb the movement of their horse and therefore they become too tense to be able to connect to the horse.

Locking one or more joints in our body to brace ourselves for the motion of the horse creates a problem because the fixation that gives a rider mental security works against the ability to absorb the movement of the horse under them properly. Therefore we lose the ability to really follow the action of the horse, and even more so, we make it harder for the horse to move correctly.

SIM will show you when you lock your joint(s), when you are behind the movement or when you are too far forward or sideways. And as SIM is not "programmed" to adapt to you as your horse has taught itself, it will give it to you straight. The good thing is that he will also immediately respond when you do it right! It is a real eye-opener for many that have sat on SIM, and they have improved their riding significantly and their horses are probably grateful to SIM as well! It is possible to feel the difference your improved skills make to your horse by doing a follow-up ridden session after your work with SIM.

SIM can come to you, or you can come to SIM

Esther and SIM can come to yards, to riding clubs or to any group of equestrians that would want some help. Esther likes to work in a group setting as everybody learns from each other, we all have a bit of fun, and much more information can be passed on in this way. But individual sessions are also possible, so it depends on what you as a rider or group prefer to do.

All SIM needs is a dry space with some room around for people to sit, and a ceiling that is not too low as SIM is about the height of a 14 hh pony.

It is also possible to visit SIM at his home at Groen Equestrian in Bromsgrove (Worcestershire).

Please contact Esther for availability.