AN OLYMPIC gold medal winner cut the ribbon to open a state-of-the art facility named in his honour.

On Friday last week Sir Mark Todd opened the Sir Mark Todd Rider Performance Studio at Sparsholt College’s university centre (UCS).

Students, university applicants, teaching staff, alumni, research collaborators and friends of Sparsholt all attended the opening.

Sir Mark said: “It’s been wonderful to officially declare this purpose-built Rider Performance Studio open for Sparsholt students to use as part of their extensive education and of course try the simulator out for myself.

“With rider analysis a growing area of interest for equine employment, it’s fantastic to see this new facility at UCS supporting students in developing their skills for advanced careers in this sector.”

The official ceremony included the unveiling of a Racewood simulator, named in honour of Sir Mark’s winning competition horse, Charisma.

Only one of two such pieces of equipment in UK universities and colleges, the horse will give students the chance further expand their research in the growing field of rider performance.

With the capability to provide feedback on rein contact, balance in the saddle and leg contact Charisma will also play an important role in equine welfare through the improvement of rider skills.

Equine lecturer, Lorna Cameron, who has researched the art of rider performance and has published findings in collaboration with the University of Portsmouth (UoP), said: “With the Rider Performance Studio we can take our research and analysis to a new level, enhancing our existing research collaborations with UoP and Hartpury University.

“The eventing simulator, with life-like ride capabilities and sophisticated sensors will enable our students to increase the commercial rider analysis work they do and their research output.

“The repeatability of the conditions our students can data collect in will result in research published in higher impact journals and with increased relevance to the wider equestrian industry.”