What do Race Horses and Roller Coasters Have In Common? Check This Thing Out.

Welcome to another #FreshTechFriday!  If you missed the last one, check it out here.  As an engineer, I love cool new engineery things.  Well someone came up with a roller coaster to train race horses, yep you read that right, a roller coaster!

If you watch the video below, they came up with a car, at first I looked at that car and thought heck, why not just use a cart or buggy like back in the old days?  But then they show a foal “working” (Minute 2:48) with the car, so essentially there is no weight or load put on the horse.  I do hope for welfare sake they just did that to prove a point.  If I am completely honest, that little guy is super cute.  Check it out in the video below, yes it gets a bit long but let me do a quick break down: car first 0:55, then foal 2:48,  the “roller coaster” stuff starts at 3:21, horse movement starts at 3:50, running starts at 6:15, at 6:40 it shows the machine raking the track behind it.

Im not entirely sure how I feel about this, I am sure there are safety features but they dont at all disclose what they are.  What happens if a horse falls?  Will the ones behind it run him over?  Do they get raked?  What happens if you have to suddenly stop?  A number of interviews say that they have been “weeks” without incidence as far as lameness goes, so they have that going for them.  A few things I do like is that it exercises the horse without putting weight on its back, and there is no bit to cause a hard mouth.  I put this in the category of a super fancy euro-ciser or hot walker.  As with everything, there are pros and cons, the comments from Youtube are fairly harsh but in all fairness, it’s not abusive and isn’t attempting to push an animal further than it can handle, as a matter of fact, it actually helps monitor.  You do lose out on that “personal touch” where a good rider would feel that a horse is “off” or not feeling well, but conversely, a bad rider might not feel anything and push the horse which would cause more injury.

There is a sentimental side such as, this machine won’t pat the horse when he is good, but conversely, it also won’t hurt the horse in anger because machines don’t get angry.  The horse won’t learn to trust a human while working in this machine, but the horse won’t learn to distrust them either.  He may trust or distrust the machine but the machine is really designed to work the youngsters, before they head to the track to get ridden, so there is still time for the horse to get to know humans, but maybe this puts them at a disadvantage because the ones ridden from the start have had time to establish a longer working relationship with humans.  It’s hard to tell how this will affect future race horses.  But on a lighter side note, the seat up front looks like it would be a blast to ride around in, for the first 5 times, after that, I imagine it will get quite boring.  I could see this as a new way to condition event horses, hunters, and jumpers, similar to the eurocisers seen around.

Don’t whip out your checkbooks yet my friends, this gem will cost you about $26 million US.  There is one in the UK at Kingwood Stud and it was developed in Turkey, so if you want to ship your shiny new race horse to one of those locations to be trained, go right ahead.  Clearly this is not practical for your backyard horse trainer, but maybe your folks that are training for the Triple Crown races.  It will be interesting to see how this unfolds, although it has been around since at least 2009 and hasn’t taken the racing industry by storm yet.

Here is another article on this system showing the unit at Kingwood Stud in action, yes there is a video!