Jockey unveils his clever dummy
Fake rider takes pain out of horse training
Toughened horsemen love showing off bumps and scars suffered after being thrown out of the saddle.
But one young rider decided enough was enough after a difficult day training a young wayward horse.
"The easiest way of describing it is that Toyota would never ask its top technicians to get into a car and drive it against a wall. With young horses it is no different," Paul Murphy (25), from Castlemaine, Co Kerry, explained as he showed off his invention at the Dublin Horse Show in the RDS yesterday.
"I wanted to create something you can place on a horse's back in order to take full control of it. It takes the element of danger out of (training a horse)," he said.
After developing hundreds of prototypes over five years, Paul came up with a usable 'crash-test dummy' named 'Ardall'.
It's shaped like a human, and gives a horse the sensation of having a person on its back.
So if a young horse being 'backed' for the first time turns into a bucking bronco or takes off like a freight train, the rider is saved from a tumble, explained the young entrepreneur.
"You can put your life in a very vulnerable position getting up on a young horse for the first time," he said.
The handmade dummy weighs around 25kg, costs €669, and is made of a coiled spring in leatherette-covered foam that's shaped like a person, with two 'legs' that fit into stirrups.
"There has been great interest in it. I'm hoping to get insurance companies to make it compulsory for yards to have," Paul said.
Meanwhile, racing folk turned out in their droves at the RDS on Saturday for the Puissance high-jump competition. Former star of the track Brave Inca won the class designed for ex-racehorses.
And yesterday the little people took centre stage at the show, with the action-packed Pony Club games in Ring One providing lots of fun and frolics.