What I did: rode the Robo-Pony (not its trademarked name), a mechanical horse with computerized controls and feedback, available for one-on-one lessons with a professional instructor.
Who went with me: S. and K., my barn friends. We took turns.
What I did beforehand: watched the FEI Grand Prix CDI 5* at the AGDF Wellington, Florida
What I wore: new running bra and breeches, purchased for the experience.
How I got tickets: we just, like, you know, walked up to this vendor’s tent, and saw a woman having a lesson on the Robo-Pony, stuck our heads in and started asking questions.
Why I tried it: it looked like fun.
Where I sat: slightly left, as I do, according to the sensors, and spent at least five minutes getting used to the terribly uneven feeling of sitting symmetrically in the saddle.
Things that were sad: someone had yanked the left rein and broken the sensor, so the Robo-Pony was completely dull on the left side of its mouth. Also, I forget its name. Also, we had to pay the full amount, even though the Robo-Pony was kind of busted.
Things that were funny: I clucked at the Robo-Pony to get it to go. K. patted it.
Things that were not funny: we were not supposed to kick the Robo-Pony to make it go. K. struggled because her long legs were below the sensors on its sides. Both S. and I kicked the Robo-Pony to make it go.
Something I bought: new Pikeur breeches in a lovely shade of French blue
What it is: an opportunity to ride an equine simulator and see on seven sensor screens some feedback about your position when riding, but probably not a substitute for real riding. The Robo-Pony revealed many of my known positional flaws, including my tendency to drop contact with the bit when I ask the horse to go forward; dropping the reins made the Robo-Pony stretch out and down and the computer screens filled with red bars of failure signals. Of the three of us, I am the least experienced dressage rider, and probably the only one interested in trying it again. I thought it was fun.
Who should see it: bored and curious visitors to the 2017 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival
What I saw after: 2016 Rio Olympic Games bronze medalist Laura Graves riding her 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding Verdades, in the “Friday Night Stars” FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W, with the winning score of 80.728%.