Industrial Standard – Frangible Devices (UPDATE)

I heard yesterday, the Cross Country frangible device industrial standard has been completed. I can’t find it yet on the FEI website, but I will be seeking it out and will bring it to you as soon as I can.

[UPDATE] I have now heard from two separate sources there is a problem with the standard as of the devices tested by TRL (TRL helped develop the Frangible Pin) only the Swedish Mim NewEra clip passed the specification. Secondary testing is underway, apparently.

I cannot confirm this elsewhere.

It appears some statement was made as have a story which looks to have originated from an FEI Press Release, which I am also unable at this stage to get my hands on.

It includes this information

As of Jan. 1, 2012, all “frangible and deformable structures and devices”–or breakaway jumps–used in FEI competitions have to adhere to a set of standards developed by an FEI Eventing Committee task force and the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), an “internationally recognized research consultancy,” said Catrin Norinder, director of eventing at the FEI, which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The fences are designed to give way under impact to prevent serious injury. However, if the fence does break apart, the rider is significantly penalized (21 penalty points), Norinder said. To maintain fairness of the competitions, it is critical that the obstacles always break under the same amount of force for all jumps, competitors, and competitions, she said.

“The (new) industrial standards have been put in place to ensure the constancy of the breakability,” Norinder said.

The FEI recognizes what they call a “critical load”–meaning the amount of force necessary to cause the jump to break apart. The frangible devices are considered to be “activated” when this critical load is reached, according to Norinder.

Special pins and clips can hold fence rails in place but will “let go” when the critical load is reached. Styrofoam structures, such as the Prolog device, are engineered to deform or collapse under the critical load. The FEI approved frangible fences several years ago, but it was at the 2011 General Assembly that the organization announced that industry standards would be applied, Norinder said.

I am now even more intrigued.

I am sure there is much more to come and will update as I hear more.


Observations and reverse pins


I know it has been a long time since I have posted, my overall impression is that little has happened recently in the way of fence safety or changes. I know this may not be the case as the FEI tends to work on things with limited consultation or discussion in the wider eventing community.

I was recently in the UK for Burghley and Blenheim. This was a great experience and I believe gave me a great snapshot of top level eventing in the worlds most prolific eventing nation. What I did observe surprised me.

First up, there are only frangible pins used in the UK, both traditional and reverse. In addition as observed by none other than Lucinda Green lots of brush fences. I will come back to that in a moment.

So I was in the UK, I really wasn’t expecting anything other than the frangible pins given that British Eventing had invested so heavily in their development. That said I observed something I really hadn’t expected. Every time a pin (mostly reverse) was damaged there was a hold on course of 10 to 20 mins. Let me be clear these holds were not related to injured horses or riders although in a couple of incidences this occurred.

These holds and delays of up to 20 mins were purely for the rebuilding of the reverse pinned fences by the course building specialists. Reverse pinning is complicated, needs specialist tools and takes time to reset. At Blenheim there was about 5-10 of these holds on XC on two days of XC. The field at Blenheim was relatively small for a British event even though the individual class sizes were big there was only three classes.

On a big day in the UK there can be hundreds on XC. These delays must be excruciating with large numbers, every delay holds up competitors, officials and volunteers making a long day even longer.

Every single pinned fence I saw could have been built using the Mim NewEra clip, there is still a lack of understanding in this device in Europe, not just the UK. Importantly the Mim can be replaced and reset in seconds, not by a specialist course builder but by a volunteer fence judge. If you can lift the rail back into place you can restore the fence.

With the 3-4 minute XC intervals I observed in the UK, there would be no holds on course to rebuild any of these fences.

I also caught up with Lucinda Green and she talked about how the use too much brush was also having and unintended consequence. I won’t do any analysis on that but leave it to Lucinda to explain in the video.



Insanity (updated)

Yesterday a story popped up on Twitter, a story I have been unable to confirm. Despite my inability to confirm it I believe it to be real and definitely warrants discussion.

The story appeared on and was a report on the North American Young Rider Championships currently underway at Kentucky Horse Park.

The story mentioned a couple of controversial issues but the one that incensed me was about helmets.

This is extracted directly from the story.

One of the controversial decision was that of Cara Whitham of Canada, an Olympic-level judge and technical delegate for the competition, who stopped a rider on the entry ramp to the competition arena and ruled they not wear a safety helmet with pink bling. The rider offered another helmet with crystal decoration. The TD refused to allow the rider to enter the arena and insisted on a top hat.

I know that Dressage is steeped in tradition, but as I have said before tradition has no place before safety. Asking a rider to wear a top hat instead of a safety helmet is INSANITY. This is a huge step backwards and must NOT be condoned by either the FEI or the USEF.

How can equestrian sport move forwards with a positive focus when this archaic mindset from our Officials prevails. What upsets me even more was this reportedly occurred at a Young Riders event. A terrible lesson to teach our young people.

Since my story, I now found a further clarification, essentially the rider was advised not to wear too much bling. Here is the clarification, I still don’t like it. A safety helmet should always be preferable to a top hat, full stop end of conversation, the judges should and must judge you on what you and your horse do during a test, not what you wear.

This is still a very dangerous message to be sending to a young rider.

I am very disappointed.

Yours in Eventing


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Questions and responses

Difficult for me to comment because I wasn’t there but seems to be a consensus that one fall too many occurred at Burbury before a fence was pulled.

Here is a thought provoking story by Lulu Kyriacou on Horsetalk.

EN John, on Eventing Nation has added further discussion to the story, which I know will bring plenty of comments.

What interests me is that as Officials we are often stuck between a rock and a hard place. There are often outcries from riders and others in the know when a rider is pulled from the course and slapped with a Yellow Card, take Jessica Phoenix for example.

Then at the other end of the scale. How many falls is enough before a fence is pulled. I am not criticizing any decisions made because I wasn’t there. What I do know is that if I was TD, I would have been at the fence after the first fall and I would have had a member of the Ground Jury by my side after the second.

Lots of thoughts and lots to think about.


Yours in Eventing


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How you can help Boyd Martin and the Team at True Prospect Farm

UPDATE The horses that were hospitalized are showing real signs of progress in the last 36 hours. Check. Out this story on Eventing Nation for more info.

I cannot express in words the heartbreak I experienced this morning upon hearing the tragedy that has occurred at True Prospect Farm. The lives of all involved in this terrible incident will be irrevocably changed.

What can we do? Well reaching out and supporting our friends is going to be of critical importance over the weeks and months ahead. The other thing we can do is to donate.

At this stage for those of us in Australia or other parts of the world outside the USA, the easiest way is to donate to the True Prospect Recovery Fund. I have done this myself and urge you to do the same if you can.

Below are the details of the five ways you can support. Although some are only useful to those in the USA.

It’s important to remember that the tragedy at True Prospect this morning affected an incredible number of people.  Those who lost horses and their families will bear the brunt of the trauma, but everyone at True Prospect who was there last night will remember those moments for the rest of their lives.  Indeed everyone in the eventing community feels some loss today that so many great horses are no longer with us and at the sorrow felt by their connections.  

The eventing community is banding together today to help out.  Everyone who can help is on scene at True Prospect and New Bolton assisting in the relocation of the surviving horses, the recovery of the injured horses, and helping everyone involved.

As part of the recovery, there are multiple ways we can all band together from across Eventing Nation to help out.  If you are anything like me, you have felt a little helpless today hearing about the tragedy but not being there to help out.  Here is a quick guide to the relief funds and other ways to help out, please help spread the word: 

1) Boyd’s website has posted a link to a True Prospect/SCES relief fund set up through SCES that allows for tax-deductible donations.  The site explains: “This relief fund is a general fund set up to help everyone at Windurra LLC and True Prospect Farm, as well as our owners and riders who have been impacted by this tragedy.”  [Boyd’s blog and donation link]

2) There is also a True Prospect Farm Fire Recover Fund directly from True Prospect Farm.  You can pay with either a credit card or a Paypal account. [Information on the fund and donation link]

3) Denny Emerson is donating half of his royalties from his new book “How Good Riders Get Good” to help with the recovery.  Click here to buy the book.

4) PRO is putting together and online fundraising auction–we’ll have more details on that as it develops.

5) Everyone can also make donations through the American Horse Trials Foundation.  Boyd, Caitlin and Lillian are already listed there, and donations are tax-deductible. As will all AHTF donations, be sure to write the riders name on a note with the check, not the actual check.

The American Horse Trials Foundation
221 Grove Cove Road
Centreville, MD 21617
Phone: (443) 262-9555

As a final good news note, we have been getting a lot of emails checking on Remington–he was turned out overnight and is fine.  Go donate.

Horse World Gives Back

Horse World Gives Back is bringing the horse world together in a fund raising drive to benefit the people and horses affected by the recent flooding and tornadoes all throughout the country. Let’s show the world the what a caring and compassionate people we are!

Horse World Gives Back has been organized by the Horse Radio Network and many of their media partners.


Wow, some amazing news!

The long running battle over the control of Henny is almost complete and the great news is that it has come down in favour of the famous combination of Peter Atkins and Henny.  Here is a copy of the ruling by the Judge, but in short the news is good for Peter and Henny.

There is a more detailed analysis by Samantha Clark on Eventing Nation here and as Samantha was the one who brought the story to the world I will leave the last comment to her.

This is the original story as broken on Eventing Safety back in November.


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