May 30, 2008

From December 1 all appropriate cross-country obstacles in the US must be contructed with frangible technology.
© Jane Thompson

Changes to cross-country jump construction in the US have been ordered, with the aim of preventing death or injury to horses and riders from rotational falls.

From December 1, all cross-country obstacles at horse trials events must be constructed with approved frangible technology if appropriate, under new rules mandated by the United States Equestrian Federation.

Frangible technology means that the obstacle will break away when it is hit hard, unlike most current cross-country jumps, which are solid and result in the horse somersaulting over.

The rule changes come on the eve of an eventing safety summit run by the USEF and the US Eventing Association, on June 7-8 in Lexington, Kentucky.

Obstacles constructed prior to December 1, 2008 and for which the use of approved frangible technology is appropriate shall be retrofit using this technology before December 1, 2009. All open oxers at the Training level and above must be constructed using approved frangible technology.

Effective immediately, the first fall of a competitor at an obstacle will result in elimination, and the fall of a horse will result in mandatory retirement.

In the event of an accident in which a competitor is apparently injured or concussed, they must be examined by designated medical personnel to determine if they may take part in another test, ride another horse or if they are capable of leaving the grounds. Refusal to be examined shall be penalized by a fine of $100 (Payable to the Organizing Committee) at the discretion of the Ground Jury.

The rule changes were submitted by the USEF Eventing Technical Committee with the support of the USEA Eventing Standards Task Force.

The USEF and USEA are also in the process of developing the rules for a 'red card system' to penalize dangerous riding.