Unfortunately a young lady, only 16 years old, lost her life participating in our sport on the weekend. In today’s age of social media it is on youtube, however I wont be posting the link nor giving you any help to see it. Believe me you don’t want to see it.
That said it was a classic rotational fall where the horse landed fair and square on the rider. In the video the horse gets up and looks fine but there is no movement at all from the rider.
The video does highlight another issue that does bear more discussion and is a bit of a bugbear of mine, securing portable fences, the fence in this fall is portable and rotates with the horse. It definitely wasn’t secured properly at the front, whether this may have prevented the rotation is speculation, but the fence was not secured at the front.
I know that many course builders find it honorous to secure every portable down on a course but there is definitely just cause for doing so, this is a good example.
A friend of mine also had a fall last year which witnesses say was worse because the fence stayed under the horse giving him nowhere to put down. The end result was that the horse suffered a permanent brain injury and the rider sustained liver, chest and brain injuries thankfully none permanent.
I have seen many ways to secure a fence during my short time in the sport and often they are inadequate or an afterthought. This is an attitude that needs to change, securing fences safely and at the front to prevent the whole fence rotating must become normal practice.
The best, quickest and safest method I have seen was at Red Hills Horse Trials which was built by Eric Bull and his crew. Eric has developed a system, adapted from others I believe, which can be put into place in minutes. Importantly, it can be removed almost as quickly and does not require digging holes.
There are two parts to the system which Eric sells on his website etbjump.com, the first part is a right angle bracket that is screwed to the fence at it’s lowest point on the front, either face or sides, depending on the fence. The second part is basically like a large auger bit with a hex head on the top.
The auger is driven into the ground through the slot on the angle piece with a bar. This is quick and the bit screws itself into the ground so that it really bites into the ground. There are two lengths available so you can use a longer bit on sandier or softer soil to get more bite.
To remove you simply use a large socket wrench and unscrew the bit from the ground and then undo the screws holding the bracket to the fence. All component are 100% reusable so the cost is one off and the occasional broken screw.