Devices mark new era in eventing safety

The MIM Clip in place.
The MIM Clip in place.

A clip and pin designed in Sweden is the first cross-country jump safety fixing to pass the FEI’s new approvals scheme for frangible devices for eventing.

The MIM Safe New Era Clip and Pin underwent many years of development and field tests in Sweden, Australia and the USA by inventors Mats Björnetun of MIM Construction AB, and Anders Flogård. They attained the new specification at the FEI’s only recognised test station, the world renowned Transport Research Laboratory in Britain, at Crowthorne in Berkshire.

The landmark certifications mean the MIM Clip (FEI101SWE) and Pin (FEI102SWE) are currently the only devices permitted for use on frangible cross-country obstacles at FEI competitions worldwide, under the new FEI eventing rule (546.2.4.) which came into force on January 1, 2013.

Frangible technology was developed after a  sequence of rider fatalities worldwide in the late 1990s engaged the FEI and several  national governing bodies in work to improve safety on cross-country courses.

Frangible devices, also known as deformable devices, are aimed at reducing rotational falls, where the risk of traumatic injury is greatest.  In rotational falls, the horse somersaults or “hand-stands” over the fence, with the forelegs acting as the fulcrum when trapped behind fixed timber.  In extreme incidences, the rider is thrown to the ground ahead of the horse which may then land upon them.

Fences fitted with frangible devices give way upon heavy impact. They are not primarily intended to prevent falls, though sometimes do. It is the non-rotational nature of these falls  that reduces injury. When the fence collapses, the horse’s forward motion continues with his body more likely to remain parallel to the ground, enabling the rider to be thrown clear or out of serious harm’s way.

The MIM pin with damage indicator tool in place.
The MIM pin with damage indicator tool in place.

Björnetun said MIM began looking at deformable devices, after already working in the car safety industry.  “Our quest was always more of a passion than a business, though I am naturally delighted that the FEI has set this stringent specification and that MIM is the first to reach this important milestone.

“We believe our two products provide course-designers with ample versatility, but this does not mean the work is over.  Eventing will always be a risk sport but everyone who loves it should never stop questioning how we can take those risks down to the absolute minimum,” said Björnetun, who also runs an annual FEI event at his farm in Baldersnas, an hour from Gothenburg.

MIM consultant Anders Flogård has a background in research engineering at the University of Chalmers, specialising in vehicle safety. His work in biomechanics led to one human simulator help develop be becoming a worldwide industry standard in crash testing. He is also an equestrian, has written a paper on the causes of horse falls and the main principles of deformable technology.

The MIM reverse pin has the advantage of a re-usable indicator tool which fence judges can apply in just seconds to see if the pin has been weakened by a non fall-inducing impact – important  in pre-empting situations where competitors can challenge penalties awarded for breaking a fence believed to be already damaged. The reverse pin is usually employed upright timber rail-type fences.

The MIM Clip is ideally suited for upright and oxer type fences and as well as the traditional table type fences. Any weakening of the MIM Clip by prior impact is indicated by distortion of a small metal flag which is visible to the naked eye. It is also easily replaced by the fence judge.

The MIM Clip and Pin are compatible with BE fittings commonly in use in the UK.

Event Riders Association chairman Francis Whittington welcomed MIM’s approval. “The unique design of both Mimsafe products enables the device to react to horizontal and vertical pressure and have a valuable indicator system that clearly shows when that clip or pin needs to be replaced.  If the pin needs replacing, it can be done so on site simply by the fence judge.

“Given the substantial investment in time and finance needed to develop products that aim to make eventing a safer sport, ERA is happy to endorse this and any other product that seeks to increase the safety of our sport.”


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