For many riders, having a full-time coach on the ground every time we mount up isn’t realistic. It’s costly for one thing, with full training at top show barns reaching into the $3,000-$5,000 per month range. And while weekly or bi-weekly lessons certainly keep riders on the correct path, there is new technology in the works that could further solo riders’ goals in the schooling and show ring.
According to an article published in Science Daily, researchers are working on a prototype ‘smart saddle’ that could aid riders in improving their biomechanics. An added bonus to the high-tech tack is that the prototype can also alert trainers and stable managers when a rider has fallen off out on a hack or similar situation.
The researchers used TENGs, which is short for triboelectric nanogenerators, which are small lightweight gizmos that covert mechanical energy into electricity. Still with me? According to the article, TENGs essentially transmit pressure, touch, and motion into signals. The research team placed seven TENGs on different parts of a saddle to detect pressure from the rider, such as when a rider was in two-point contact, sitting, or posting while riding. The TENGs flatten down when pressed and expand back to normal when released. When flattened, electrons are transferred from one electrode to another which creates an electric current that shuts off when released.
The team that conducted the study on the “self-powered smart saddle”, which transmit data in 16 milliseconds, might one day offer up stats in real time to help equestrians and their coaches evaluate position and effectiveness of seat and leg aids during lessons and when riding alone.
No word yet when the smart saddle would make the jump from prototype to real-world tack shops, or if the creators have designed an internal speaker to yell corrections in your coach’s voice during a ride!
You can watch a video clip of a human applying external force to the SRC-TENG :