Students at University Centre Sparsholt (UCS), Sparsholt College, University applicants, teaching staff, alumni, research collaborators and friends of Sparsholt have celebrated the official opening of a brand new, exciting facility for Equine students, opened by ‘Event Rider of the 20th Century’ and Double Olympic Gold medal winner, Sir Mark Todd CBE.

The official ceremony at UCS included a speech from Sparsholt Principal, Tim Jackson, before Sir Mark unveiled two commemorative plaques to mark the occasion in Sparsholt history and officially declared the brand new facilities and state-of-the-art Racewood simulator open for student use.

The simulator uses state-of-the-art motion control technology and is one of only two in UK universities and colleges. The simulator will give Sparsholt students the unrivalled opportunity to further expand their research in the growing field of rider performance, cementing its reputation as a leading national and international home of rider performance analysis. From Grand Prix dressage to show jumping and cross country, the simulator will bring all equestrian disciplines to life in a controlled, safe environment providing the ideal conditions for rider performance research, analysis and coaching.

Equine Lecturer, Lorna Cameron, research active in the art of rider performance and has published findings in collaboration with the University of Portsmouth and Hartpury University said: “With the Rider Performance Studio we can take our research and analysis to a new level, enhancing our existing research collaborations with UoP and Hartpury University. The Eventing simulator, with life-like ride capabilities and sophisticated sensors will enable our students to increase the commercial rider analysis work they do and their research output. The repeatability of the conditions our students can data collect in will result in research published in higher impact journals and with increased relevance to the wider equestrian industry.”

With the capability to provide feedback on rein contact, balance in the saddle and leg contact will play an important role in equine welfare through the improvement of rider skills, an area of particular expertise at UCS. This exciting new capability is further intensified through the addition of a 3D Qualysis analysis system for biomechanics research.

Sir Mark Todd commented: “It’s been wonderful to officially declare this purpose-built Rider Performance Studio open for Sparsholt students to use as part of their extensive education and of course try the simulator out for myself! With rider analysis a growing area of interest for equine employment, it’s fantastic to see this new facility at UCS supporting students in developing their skills for advanced careers in this sector.”

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