WATCH: Meet Douglas the horse who is helping Suffolk’s riders to improve their technique
- Credit: Archant
A horse named Douglas is helping riders from across the region to improve their riding abilities.
But Douglas is no ordinary horse. He is in fact a simulator stabled in Sutton with Sue Gould-Wright who runs Schooling for the Rider.
Mrs Gould-Wright has worked in equestrian pilates and sport massage therapy to help riders improve their balance before riding.
She has lived in Suffolk for a few months having moved to find a home for the simulator.
Douglas is the size of a fully grown horse measuring around 15 hands high.
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He has sensors across his body and is hooked up to several monitors which Mrs Gould-Wright can programme with a variety of settings.
Douglas is one of only two such simulators in the entire country and the only one which is publicly accessible.
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Once fitted with the correct saddle, riders can practise all sorts of riding disciplines without having to step outside.
“Effectively you ride him like a real horse,” Mrs Gould-Wright said.
“You can ask him to do all of the big movements that a normal horse would do.”
From full-on cross country and dressage to a simple walk or trot Douglas can manage it all.
He can also jump over 1m to clear obstacles posed to him in the virtual course. With Douglas, Mrs Gould-Wright can help riders to improve their posture and balance while riding and jumping something that would be impossible on a real horse.
“The biggest thing for me is that I can stand next to somebody in the fastest canter that Douglas can throw at them.
“I can be right next to the rider all the way through.”
The benefits of such changes to the rider’s positioning can benefit the horse as well as the person riding.
It’s not just professional equestrians who make use of Douglas - he helps riders of all abilities and ages, from professional equestrians wanting to improve their technique to families wanting to get to speed before heading out on riding holidays.
Having practised on Douglas, Mrs Gould-Wright’s clients can then use their new found skills on real horses even if they behave less predictably.
“Douglas is perfectly well behaved,” Mrs Gould-Wright added.