Equestrians and Fans “Ride Simple” at CHIO Aachen

Equestrians are the newest members of the SAP ecosystem who Run – or in this case, RideSimple.

Last weekend I ventured to Aachen, Germany to attend CHIO, an international equestrian festival where SAP was showcasing SAP Equestrian Analytics software. I didn’t know what to expect; even though I have seen the tremendous impact of SAP sports solutions, from the World Cup to the NBA, I could not envision how we could support horseback riding.

I know my way around equestrian events—I rode many years ago at a much lower level, and my daughter currently competes in the US. It’s a challenging sport for fan engagement and one that lacks many technology players. But SAP showcased a digital experience at CHIO that engages fans and improves results for competitors.

The prototype visualizes the action on the cross-country course of the eventing discipline. A camera is attached to the rider’s helmet, and the software tracks individual routes, speed data, time gaps, and heart rates of both the horse and the rider. The data and video are merged in an interface that allows the spectators to experience the action from the rider’s perspective. The fan becomes a living part of the experience. SAP also introduced an ongoing trivia contest and a fan scoring app (SAP Audience Judge) so that CHIO attendees were constantly plugged into the action.

The software has great potential for training and conditioning. SAP is lucky to have German equestrian champion Ingrid Klimke as an adviser. Ingrid has competed in four Olympics, winning gold at both Beijing and London. And she says the SAP solution can really make a difference.

It comes down to quantifying intuition, she explained. Equestrians like Ingrid travel quickly through the cross country track—from 20 to 40 km/hour—and the riders control the speed of the horse and the path they take. It’s all very intuitive and success comes from years of practice and experience.

But this software can actually quantify the rider’s intuition with hard data analysis. From slight changes in speed to variations in routes, the data gives insight to help riders fine-tune training and be more precise on the course.

As a fan of riding and strong believer in the potential of technology in athletics, I was greatly encouraged by the excitement from Ingrid, her coach, and others at CHIO—including the fans. It’s another terrific example of how sports can demonstrate the power of SAP software, especially when our brilliant engineers co-innovate with world-class athletes like Ingrid. Even horses can Run Simple.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.