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 TheHorse.com 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.
J

Observations and reverse pins

20111020-052924.jpg

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.

Thanks

John

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

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

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.

The FEI have released a policy and action plan

Hey guys, the long awaited FEI Eventing Risk Management Policy and Action Plan has been released.

At first glance I am disappointed.  To me this is a policy statement, the words Action Plan have been tacked onto the end of the title.

My understanding of an action plan is this:

  • Quantifiable goals, targets, actions and achievements
  • Identify and give deadlines for all of the above
  • Set review dates, and keep updating the plan.

An action plan without specific and measurable Key Performance Indicators is not a plan.

However, I do hold out hope.

“Communication plan

The FEI Eventing risk management needs also to take into account the risks for the FEI deriving from an unmanaged communication of any accident that will inevitably produce a bad image for the organization and the sport if not put in the right context of a proactive risk management policy.

Public perception of proactive risk management is as important as the risk management actions performed and an effective risk management communication plan is key for achieving the mission of the organization.

In order to ensure the above:

 A communication strategy for FEI Eventing risk management must be urgently developed. All risk management actions must be made public and actively explained .

 A clear procedure has been established in case of any serious accident to allow correct distribution of information.”

An urgent development of a communication strategy is a fantastic leap forward and I can’t wait to read it, even better be part of the team helping to develop it.  So yes we have taken a baby step in the right direction and for that I am thankful.

ESJ

 

 

 

Me on Eventing Nation – Eventing’s Honor Roll, the one list you don’t want to be on

Hi Guys I was moved to write this after reading about Jade South.

Eventing’s Honor Roll

Thanks for your interest

ESJ