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Gladiator Polo Event Encouraging New Riders


Expensive riding simulators a hit at Wellington Gladiator Polo event



Kassidy Applean, 10, Wellington, (right) rides a mechanical horse simulator before the start of Gladiator Polo at Equestrian Village in Wellington on January 26, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Mark Bellissimo’s plan to make more people interested in equestrian sports starts with getting them to ride.

Ultimately, he wants to start a robust riding academy in Wellington that will have opportunities for young people to seniors to ride a real horse without having to own one.

Until then, maybe they can start with a convincing simulator.

Equestrian Sport Productions debuted two expensive riding simulators at the Gladiator Polo event last week at Equestrian Village — one for polo and the other for showjumping and general cross country riding.

There was a long line to get onto the simulators from small children to adults waiting for a chance to ride a machine that Bellissimo said is only one of two in the country. The other is at Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina.

The $100,000 show-jumping simulator has three screens that show where the rider is going and where they need to jump. It has sensors throughout the horse that gives feedback for balance and allows the rider to control the horse with the reigns.

There aren’t firm plans to open the simulators to the public full-time, but for now they’ll be rolled out for big events.