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

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How do we share our learnings effectively?

I have been pondering a couple of questions since Rolex, and I think they are worth sharing and discussing.

  1. Why were there no Mim NewEra Clips at Rolex?
  2. How do we share new ideas and concepts on “frangible fence design” effectively and efficiently?

I will start by saying neither of these questions is meant as a criticism but purely as points to generate debate. Personally I seek out frangible fences and always aim to have a real understanding of the thinking behind their use, the device incorporated and what will happen if they are deployed.

I think this is good practice for everyone involved in our sport, we all need to know and understand more about these devices.

So back to Rolex, I have had a good look at the fence photos and only the frangible pin was used, both in traditional and reverse installation.  The double corners caused a number of issues on the weekend including these incidents below, the second of which ended up being the most serious of the weekend with a dislocated elbow.

So the question I ask myself, is could the either situation have given a different result if the Mim device was used instead of the pins? Personally I think yes, the Mim installed on both front and back could and should have collapsed in both situations. But most course builder and designers, or even TDs have never seen such a fence.  I have, at Adelaide last year and I did a video for Eventing Nation on it with TD Andy Griffiths, (while the sound is terrible in parts) and it show how a frangible corner can be built.

So how do we share this information and knowledge in the future?

Thanks

John

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

2011 FEI Risk Management Seminar Minutes and Reports

My apologies for not getting onto this earlier but I have been away in sunny Florida.

So the FEI have released the minutes, participant list, presentations and fall statistics from the meeting held in late January. We must remember that this annual meeting is primarily National Safety Officers and is called the “FEI Eventing Risk Management Seminar”.

I must say up front that I was told in no uncertain terms prior to the meeting that the meeting was not about frangible devices or moves to develop an industrial standard. Well this seems to be exactly the case. I found a total of three references, in all of the eight documents published. All of these references were passing and include NO detail at all.

Personally I see this as a glaring omission and I will explain why.

For at least the last 12 months and for longer, but perhaps more anecdotally, we have been compiling data on the types of frangible devices used, types of fences they were used in, did they deploy or did they fail to deploy.

These are important statistics, there is NO statistical information included in the FEI Statistic on falls, fences and injuries that identify frangible devices. Just so I am being clear, there is absolutely no statistical information released by the FEI on the use of frangible fences.

I believe this information is critical to our plans and future direction. Let me explain a little first. At an FEI Competition, the TDs and CD need to fill in an extremely detailed form outlining the details of every fence included in the competition. Using this information we should be able to identify if you are more likely to have a horse fall off a left or right bend, in or out of water, up or down a hill, at a portable or fixed fence and also at a frangible or non-frangible fence.

We can also identify using the report, the profile of fences that have a statistically higher chance of causing a horse fall. We should also be able to identify if a particular profile of fence has a lower chance of producing a horse fall if a frangible device is used (and perhaps even which type of frangible device has the lowest chance of a horse fall).

All of this information is important for Officials to understand when analyzing a course and for CDs when preparing a course. Failure of frangible devices to deploy is also important information, especially when the resulting fall results in serious injury or worse. I can think of four really famous examples of failure to deploy in the last 12 months.

Was the failure to deploy a case of the perfect storm of bad circumstances or simply, a less appropriate device being used?

What I do know is that this type of information need not be highly sanitised to the point the information becomes useless, but disseminated to the people who need to know, firstly the NSO’s and secondly to the Officials who are the Individuals responsible and are responsible when something goes wrong.

I really do hope that more time was spent on discussing frangible devices and that some lost report suddenly appears on the FEI website, but I do not hold out much hope. It seems we are destined for another year of sanitised, compartmentalised and fragmented information about the sport.

One other issue I see with the statistics is that they only represent the FEI competitions. I know there are issues with getting complete information from National Federations, but hey, a complete picture on the sport would be nice. For instance the report mentions that there have been seven rider fatalities in the last 7 years. Unfortunately when you add the national competitions into the mix that number goes from 7 to 27 almost four times the rate.

Statistics are important and we must continue to work on them, however we need to extract and disseminate more meaningful and practical, applicable data that a Course Designer or Technical Delegate can use in the field where it really matters.

The documents can be read and downloaded on the FEI website here.