Which fences should be frangible?

One of the key issues with the use of frangible fences is choosing which fences should be frangible and which not.  There is a lot of talk about NOT changing the nature of eventing.  By this my interpretation it is that Eventing is a tough sport which rewards the best combinations for accuracy, rhythm , partnership and bravery.

Yes, absolutely, BUT the punishment or risk should not be accepted as possibly death or life threatening injury for either horse or rider.  There must be consequences for combinations that make mistakes but long gone are the days where we accept injury to horse or rider as par for the course.

So it comes back to which fences need to have a construction that minimise the consequences for an error of judgement by either horse or rider.

The short answer is, that there are many experts in course building and design worldwide and they have lots of ways to minimise the risk. for instance using more brush with the timber lower on a  fence.  This does not need to use any of the new technologies but can reduce the impact of a fence.

If you want to keep the timber high then perhaps you should use a new technology such as the Mim NewEra Clip which can allow the fence to fall safely when hit hard by a horse.

The most critical question for every fence is “Can this fence potentially cause a rotational fall?” if the answer is yes, then your next question is “what can I do to minimise the chances of a rotational fall?”

Importantly, there is NO way to guarantee that a horse will not rotate at a fence.  There is NO miracle cure, but we can MINIMISE the risk.

A great example is the recent Kentucky Rolex Three Day Event, top British rider Oliver Townend was one of three riders to have nasty falls at the double bounce down the stairs.  Oli’s fall was one I was able to see on video and I was able to  watch it half a dozen times.  The vertical rail was pinned with frangible pins in the traditional manner. The pin did not break and my interpretation of the fall was that it should not have broken in these circumstances.

What I saw on the video was that the horse left a fore-leg behind and essentially had no landing gear and rotated on landing as it had only one leg to land on. If the fence was pinned in the reverse pin method the result MAY have been different but this methodology is very new and in early stages of testing.  That said perhaps a different technology could have worked better.  I recently saw the Mim’s clips being used on a similar fence at the Sydney World Cup event see pics here.  At that event I believe the clips potentially saved two nasty falls.

I reiterate there is no panacea, but increasing knowledge and sharing our experiences will help to decrease risk for both horse and rider.

I leave you with this story on the eventing worldwide site, about a recent fall, you can make your own mind up about the fence and how you would answer the question “what can I do to minimise the chances of a rotational fall?”, have a look here.

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