The BLACKDOG Equestrian App is in no way designed to take the place of a trainer. Instead, it's designed to work alongside a rider's regular training. It's there for all the times in between, when a rider feels the need for a helping hand!
The BLACKDOG Equestrian App was born out of BLACKDOG biomechanics, our sister business.
A rider's position is so important and has such a big influence on our horse's way of going, yet it's something that is so often overlooked during training. The goal of BLACKDOG is to change that!
BLACKDOG biomechanics interacted with riders through clinics and workshops - and still does, see the website for an up-to-date list of upcoming clinics. However, like so many, these in-person clinics came to a grinding halt with the appearance of Covid-19 and the associated lockdowns in early 2020.
Stuck with nothing to do and no-where to go, we needed something to fill the time and thus the BLACKDOG Equestrian App was born!
We envision the app to be used in partnership with a rider's trainer.
It can be used to give feedback or to show a rider evidence of their improvement. Progress can sometimes take the form of "big leaps", but most of the time, progress is a series of small steps in the right direction. The BLACKDOG Equestrian App can show riders that they *are* making improvement and to help them to stay motivated!
The training plans and schooling exercises can help a rider when they've got that "lost" feeling training on their own. Or they can be used to reinforce what they've just learned in their training session, helping to cement their learning.
As for the rider fitness, well we all know it's something we *should* be doing, but knowing it and doing it are two different things! The plans should hopefully help riders to make the first step to improving their riding by improving their own condition. They're designed to be quick and easy to follow.
BLACKDOG was founded by Dr Ilse Daly. Her experience in computer vision, machine learning and mathematical analysis combined with her years of equestrian experience create a unique system that will help horses and riders of all levels to improve their performance.
Ilse gained her PhD in 2017 from the University of Bristol with a research project investigating animal vision. In particular, she was investigating the role that eye movements play in vision. It's during this project that she realised some of the same advanced computer vision techniques she was developing could be adapted to track a horse and rider. That was the very early beginnings of the idea behind BLACKDOG.
Dr Daly has ridden competitively in Dressage, showing and showjumping, fitting horses and competing around her education and research. She's found time to work a summer season for both the international Grand Prix riders Judy Harvey and Anna Ross. With her own horses, she has trained to Inter I and competed to Advanced Medium as well as competing at HOYS, Royal International and numerous county shows.
As we said earlier, our vision is for the BLACKDOG Equestrian App to be used by riders *with* their coaches.
In light of this, we work with trainers both to develop the app and to provide training plans and schooling exercises so that riders have a wide range of content to choose from. All trainers have slightly differing approaches, some of which will suit certain horses and riders and some of which might not! By getting a range of experience, there should be an approach that suits everyone.
We're always looking to partner with more coaches and trainers, so if you're interested in being a part of the BLACKDOG family, then get in touch!
We'd like to acknowledge the contribution of the following in making the development of the system possible:
- Mathis et al 2018: [10.1038/s41593-018-0209-y](https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-018-0209-y)
- Nath, Mathis et al 2019: [10.1038/s41596-019-0176-0](https://doi.org/10.1038/s41596-019-0176-0)