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I’m sure many of you will have seen this new contraption on social media this week and I am really excited to see that it has finally been built! I remember seeing an animated video of it a year or so ago and thought it was a really interesting idea.
So what is the Kurtsystem?
The Kurtsystem is a basically a horse walker cross roller coaster. Covering a mile loop circuit, the first Kurtsystem allows racehorses to be exercised at any speed from walk-canter without a rider. Each racehorse has their own little pod, which is open at the front and padded at the back and sides.
ITV made a really good video about it here:
We all know that generally race horses are backed fairly young 18 months- 3 years, depending on the trainer and the type of racing they will be going into. Despite the negative stigma of starting horses this young, over the years there has been plenty of evidence to suggest that starting racehorses at a young age strengthens their legs and decreases their risk of breaking down from a leg injury in later life. However, no one can deny that having even the lightest, most balanced, jockeys on their backs at such a young age is going to increase the risk of back problems in later life. I think one study found that 95% of flat racehorses and 90% of national hunt horses showed symptoms of back pain.
So in my eyes, this new system could be used before and alongside the backing process. So the horse can learn to accept the rider in short bursts, but will still be able to train and improve their strength and fitness. And as others have already mentioned, it could be a fantastic way to help horses come back to full fitness after a holiday or injury as it removes the extra strain of having to carry a rider.
However, accidents do happen and sometimes horses fall over, even at a slow pace. And I’m not sure how a horse running at the front would not get trampled by the horses behind them. But then I also guess that the same could be said by riding horses in a group.
The other issue I had was the idea of expecting horses to work whilst being essentially confined to a small space. But the horses in the first demo appeared very relaxed and I guess it’s not really too different from asking them to run on a treadmill, which very few people have an issue with!
I am really looking forward to seeing this new invention develop and if it will benefit the training of racehorses! What do you think about the Kurtsystem?