Many jockeys are injured during their horse racing career, some suffering more life threatening injuries than others, but one fact remains the same for all of them, they need rehabilitation and a clean bill of health before being allowed on a horse again. It is sometimes difficult to judge how a jockey will react or perform after they have recovered, but there is a safer way to reintroduce jockeys to racing, namely the racehorse simulator. This might seem like a strange form of rehabilitation, but with the major advances in racehorse simulators, they are most definitely an asset to the industry.
The simulators recreate a racing event that is extremely similar to what jockeys would experience on the track. Sitting on a life-size horse simulator facing a screen, every move of the jockey is monitored and incorrect riding affects the outcome of the race. A staggering forty thousand reactions are programmed into the simulator, as well as weather conditions and competitors. Jockeys can therefore work on their strategies, while building fitness and stamina.
Simulators which are designed specifically for horse racing, have sensors located in various positions in order for the simulator to respond exactly as a horse would, and to penalize a jockey for incorrect behavior and riding. Sensors are therefore found in rear to pick up on incorrect whipping and excessive force; a bit sensor to respond to slowing the horse down; saddle and balance sensors to regulate the seat of the jockey; steering sensors for direction and of course sensors in the shoulders. If a jockey is off balance or uses excessive whipping the simulated horse will slow down.
The benefits for jockeys are endless. Being able to train no matter what the weather, practicing their balance, gaining knowledge on racing strategies, increasing their fitness levels, learning to navigate a horse through a field of contenders and exploring different racecourses and racing distances, can rehabilitate jockeys back to racing form, faster and with less risk. Simulators have become more popular as their effectiveness and technology have improved. Their assistance to jockeys and the horse racing industry is invaluable, providing jockeys with a safe environment to improve their skills and regain their confidence.