Fewer eventing falls last year, FEI says

February 1, 2011

The FEI says a decrease in the percentage of cross-country falls in the past year shows its Eventing Risk Management Action Plan is working, but the number of horse falls and lower level rider falls is still a concern.

Julie Lawson and Zigane come to grief at the Blair Castle horse trials last August. © Mike Bain
Representatives from 22 nations who attended the FEI's annual National Safety Officer (NSO) seminar in Greenwich, London last weekend were told that since 2005, the fall rate has dropped steadily from one cross-country fall per 17 starters to one in 19 in 2009-10.

The action plan was launched last year, with one of the aims to reduce horse falls in eventing by 10% in the next three years.

In 2009, there were 778 falls from 14,206 starters (an incidence of 5.48%); in 2010, this figure was 767 from 15,518 (4.94%). The number of international events has grown from 318 in 2004 to 479 in 2010.

Giuseppe Della Chiesa, Chair of the FEI Eventing Committee, said the statistics showed that the vision for the Risk Management Action Plan was correct and that the systems put in place are moving in the right direction. "It also shows the steady pace at which the sport is increasing worldwide and the fact that officials and competitors are working well together," he said.

"Of course, we are happy to have a growing eventing community, but we must make sure that these competitors who are coming into the sport and progressing up it are properly prepared for each level. Our priority is always to ensure competitors do not face any unnecessary risk in what inevitably will remain a risk sport.

"The number of falls at 1* level, and the proportion of horse falls (240 in 2010), is still of concern, as is the consistency of national methods of record-keeping, and we are continually striving to find ways of educating officials and riders, and standardising data collection throughout the world."

Topics for discussion by NSOs at the meeting included the implementation of new rules, simplifying requirements for medical cards, and national qualifying procedures for one-star events. The major aim for this year is to produce a DVD to help everyone involved in the sport (riders, owners, organising committees, National Federations and officials) share a common vision of cross-country riding in line with the FEI Eventing Risk Management Policy.

Christina Klingspor, representing the Swedish Federation, said: "This weekend has been really inspiring. It allows us to re-evaluate the progress we are making and we can now go back to our country with new ideas."

Peter Gray, Canada's NSO, said: "Much of our Federation's work in Canada revolves around what I can take back from these annual meetings. They are really helpful, as everyone brings a different skill and viewpoint, and we have been able to make great strides in improving the structure of our sport."

Several new FEI rules were put in place in 2010 to aid risk management, including penalties for dangerous riding and the breaking of a frangible obstacle or device. The rules for dangerous riding and abuse of the horse have been separated for increased clarity.

The 2010 FEI Eventing Statistics Report is to be published next month after it has been validated, the FEI said.