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 Dressage-News.com 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

ESJ

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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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.

ESJ

Yours in Eventing

ESJ

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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
Email: ahtf@att.net

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.

RunHennyRun

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.

HennyRulingPage1

Continue reading

USEF to support frangible devices

Occasionally I get some really good news sent to me very anonymously, sometimes it isn’t so good, but this one is.  For many years the USEF has been a leader in the introduction of Frangible Devices in the sport of Eventing. They are one of the few Federations to require Frangible Devices on certain types of  fences and also one of a very few that actually subsidize the  cost of using the devices.

Until now the USEF has only funded the British developed Frangible Pin. But a little birdy tells me this is all about to change.  As of very soon, the USEF will broadly support “Frangible Devices” and will subsidise the cost of the Mim NewEra System and I believe the Prolog, (while the Mim is a definite, I am not 100% sure on the Prolog).

Side on view of the Mim Team's Adjustable Post and Rail

Side on view of the Mim Team's Adjustable Post and Rail

I honestly believe that the Mim system is the best available product on the market today.  This is great news for US Eventing and I hope that the leadership shown by the USEF will be adopted by of other Federations including my own which lags behind in this area.

This change for the USEF will be reflected in changes to the design rules in the US that mandate the use of Frangible Pins on certain fences to more broadly Approved Frangible Devices.

Congratulations to the USEF for being world leaders in this area, as I understand it the push for this change came from the very top.

Lets hope we see more of this.

ESJ

FEI takes some bold moves into unknown waters

Recently when the FEI publicly released the long awaited Eventing Risk Management Plan, I was critical of most aspects as the plan in my opinion lacked many of the key aspects of a plan. However, I was very excited by one aspect of the plan which was to prioritize the Communications within Risk Management. While I am still waiting for the phone call or email to gather my thoughts on how the FEI Eventing Team can improve aspects of communication, I am heartened by recent movement at the top of the FEI.

Oh wait, before I get to my excitement perhaps I should express my confusion first. Communication and transparency are key platforms of the reform process that is underway. How is it that the CEO of the FEI can resign on Friday and his replacement be appointed on the following Tuesday, that is less than 3 business days. There must be some amazing headhunters in Switzerland. I have NEVER seen a global search for a CEO completed with such expediency EVER. Congratulations.

Now back to my excitement. The FEI in the last few weeks has really stepped into some unchartered waters and as a ‘Social Media Freak’ I am highly excited. The FEI are now on FaceBook yes, this is a huge step. I hope they have a well resourced Social Media Team as I think this could be a very interesting experiment otherwise.

In addition, there is now a FEI twitter account. Social media is an extremely powerful tool and twitter is one that has bitten many big organizations on the bum. A great example of this is the great oil company with leakage issues in the Gulf of Mexico. Check out the spoof twitter account BPGlobalPR. This is a great example of how the twitterati can turn on an organization who get their PR wrong or even worse in the eyes of the social media, having a foray into social media without a plan and the resources to do it well.

One of the critical aspects of all social media is that you cannot control what people say about you or people within your organization. If you do try that, then the hive will turn on you. So when I say I am excited about the FEI stepping into the realm of social media it is with some expectation of things not going quite to plan.

Another interesting change that has happened in the last few weeks is the appointment of the FEI Constitutional Task Force. Getting to this point has not been without controversy but the appointment as Chair of the Task Force of Akaash Maharaj, Equine Canada’s CEO is a surprise and a brave move by the FEI. Anyone even remotely familiar with Akaash will know he is NOT afraid to speak his mind and is a clear advocate for open and public debate.

Akaash is not your average Federation CEO, has achieved many things in his personal and professional life and studied at Oxford University in Master of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. To appoint Akaash to head this Task Force was no accident, he will be thorough open and consultative. He is also not European which will bring interesting feedback I am sure.

When I heard Akaash had been appointed in this role I sent him a little note wishing him well and expressing my concern that perhaps he has been appointed in the hope he might fail. He was philosophical about the appointment and deeply touched he had been given the chance to help reform the FEI and said simply that he would much prefer to have tried and failed than not tried at all. That is a sentiment I can completely understand, it is exactly the reason that drives me in my Eventing Safety campaign.

What I do know is that the Task Force has started on the right foot by communicating with the Federations publicly. Here is a copy of the letter sent out. While I do not know the other committee members Cesar Carmargo Serrano of Columbia, nor Kim Gueho of Mauritius nor Ulf Helgstrand of Denmark, I do know Paul Cargill of Australia. If his name does sound familiar he is the current Chair of Equestrian Australia, an accomplished Lawyer and the father of Hamish, of Hamish and Dave fame or as he is known at the moment HamoNoDavo.

This whole experience is a new and exciting chapter in the future of the FEI and I for one am really looking forward to it.

ESJ