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New technology in New Jersey makes horseback riding safer – NBC10 Philadelphia
New technology in New Jersey makes horseback riding safer – NBC10 Philadelphia

Sports simulators can help you practice your game, but a high-tech horse that just arrived in Ocean City, New Jersey, has made a groundbreaking difference, especially for people with special needs.

For 35 years, Chariot Riders, a therapeutic riding facility in Manchester Township, has used horses to help people with cognitive and physical disabilities.

Horses can be unpredictable, so the company now offers a new life-size interactive device called Synergy – a horse simulator – that uses pre-programmed training exercises to help riders feel more comfortable and confident.

If a driver loses his balance, the display on the simulator shows him where adjustments are needed.

On a real horse, rider Alexa Bussey has to be strapped in and her mobility is limited because she is prone to epileptic seizures. But she feels much safer on the horse simulator, Bussey says.

“I just feel safe on this horse,” Bussey said. “It gives me more freedom.”

Members of the nonprofit celebrated Synergy’s arrival with local leaders earlier this week. A grant from Ocean County covered most of the $67,000 in costs.

“Chariot Riders also offers it to riders from other forums,” said Linda Fazio, executive director of Chariot Riders. “It gives them information. They transfer it to their horse and they will feel a difference.”

Many also believe that the simulator should also relieve the strain on the real horses.

“Hopefully this will extend the lifespan of our horses because we are not leaning on one side of the horse all the time,” Fazio said.

By Seren