FEI approves horse trials safety innovations

November 23, 2008

Joe Meyer and Black Andy at Burghley. © 2008 Adam Wynne

Riders who fall in cross-country events or who ride in a dangerous manner are to be "watched" in a new system being devloped by the FEI.

Ten riders were either killed or seriously injured in the past year at cross-country events around the world. Nearly the same number of horses were killed in the past year.

At the FEI's General Assembly in Argentina last week, it was announced that a watch system of riders who fall or who ride dangerously is being developed for 2009.

The introduction of deformable structure/frangible technology at all events as of January 1, 2009 was also approved by the FEI.

Earlier this year the FEI instructed all national federations to appoint a National Safety Officer, who will act as a liaison between the FEI and their federation in regard to falls and dangerous riding.

The FEI said its safety database has been integrated in its IT structure, which will allow for more flexible reporting of such incidents.

• The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Executive Committee has approved the specifications for its Eventing Watch List, noting horse/rider combinations that could be regarded as displaying a pattern of potentially dangerous riding.

Reporting agents may call the USEF Eventing department and submit the names of horse/rider combinations they feel are potentially at risk for an accident. Reporting Agents are defined as: Any "R" USEF Eventing Licensed Official, any FEI "I" or "C" Eventing Official, any Level 4 ICP certified instructor or any rider who, in the last 12 years, has represented the US in Eventing at a World Championship, Olympic Games or Pan American Games.

Once reported and reviewed, the horse/rider combination may be added to the Watch List. The USEF Eventing department will then assign an appropriate Notifying Agent to contact the rider.

Notifying Agents for riders at the Intermediate Level and below are Derek DiGrazia, Phillip Dutton, Mike Huber, Karen O'Connor, Amy Tryon and Mark Weissbecker; for advanced level riders, Mark Phillips will serve as the Notifying Agent.

A combination can be removed from the watch list once they have completed six competitions at the same level as the infraction without incident.

• Stewards with little or no equestrian experience will be removed from the FEI's list, amid a restructuring of the stewarding system. CVs for all stewards on the FEI list have been requested from each national federation.