Safety improvements for eventing in Australia are being implemented following the recommendation of the New South Wales Coroner’s Final Report over the deaths of two young riders three years ago.
Decisions of Magistrate Derek Lee, Deputy State Coroner of NSW, into the deaths of Olivia Inglis and Caitlyn Fischer have both been released. Lees said Olivia’s cause of death was chest injuries, while Caitlyn’s death was caused by blunt force head injuries. Both had been involved in falls in the cross-country phase of competition.
The reports, of 107 and 80 pages, included detailed recommendations, and Equestrian Australia (EA) said it would start a period of consultation with key stakeholders across the country. “We want to ensure we consider the viability and practicality of the recommendations.”
EA said it had already implemented or is in the process of introducing several risk mitigation and safety improvements which the Coroner has recommended. These include:
- Adding more specific requirements to the rules around medical coverage, including the minimum skill sets and equipment that must be present for each phase, and the capacity for their rapid deployment around the venue;
- Formalising an EA Safety sub-committee of the Board including an EA Medical Working Group with medically qualified and experienced people to consider and advise changes to best practise event medical rules;
- Appointing a full-time National Safety Manager to lead safety and risk mitigation in all aspects of equestrian sports and activities;
- Implemented a standard program for National Eventing Officials Education that is run over two days at a live event and is implemented in conjunction with updated accreditation and mentorship requirements;
- An improved Riders’ Representative system with clear role descriptions and better communication of the Representative’s name and contact details; and
- The introduction of an Eventing Incident Review policy, to ensure that any serious incident is investigated thoroughly by an experienced panel with an independent Chair.
In addition, EA has mandated the use of frangible devices in cross country for 2 star and above. It has also employed the services of EquiRatings to provide, before each event, a relative risk rating for each horse at the entered level based on past performances. This provides competitors additional information to make informed decisions about the relative risk of competing at a particular level.
“We understand the responsibility we have to riders, their families and our much-valued volunteers to learn from and implement, where practical, the recommendations of the Final Report,” EA said.
“The Board and staff of Equestrian Australia again offer our condolences to the families of Olivia Inglis and Caitlyn Fischer. We acknowledge the strength and courage both families have shown throughout this difficult process.
“Olivia and Caitlyn were exceptional young women and riders. Their tragic deaths have devastated the equestrian community and are at the forefront of our mind with every risk mitigation measure EA develops.”