Zara Phillips and Toytown at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Aachen.
Photo: © Kit Houghton/FEI
To reduce the risk of injury to horse or rider all flags and flagpoles on certain fence types must meet four criteria based on construction, material, design, and how the flags are secured to the fence. A number of manufacturers currently supply flags which meet the criteria and British Eventing will keep a list to help Event Organisers source the required flags.
In May at the Badminton Horse Trials Jean-Lou Bigot's Icare D'Auzay suffered an arterial injury when he was speared by a flag as he ran out at the Vicarage Vee. Despite emergency treatment on course and after being transported to a local veterinary centre he could not be saved.
The types of fence required to use safety flags include:
"Safety of horse and rider is the number one priority in our sport and any steps which can be taken to further improve it will be taken," said BE Sport Director Mike Etherington-Smith.
"This rule is a safety measure to avoid potential accidents and it is hoped that all organisers will understand the importance of introducing such flags as soon as possible. We understand Anthony Ffooks will use safety flags during Wilton Horse Trials over July 28 - 29 and Nigel Taylor has already used them at Aston Le Walls, so this new safety initiative is already under way in the field."