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.

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2011 Eventing Risk Management Seminar in Greenwich

On January 29 & 30 2011, the Annual Eventing Risk Management Seminar was held in Greenwich, the site of the 2012 London Olympic Games Equestrian Events.

This meeting is an important event on the future of Safety (Risk Management) in our sport and brings together National Safety Officers and other interested parties from across the Eventing world.

What was discussed is unclear at this stage as the minutes and papers from the Seminar are yet to be released and although I have placed a number of calls and emails to people I know were present at this stage I am none the wiser.

There was a press release from the FEI that can be seen here. However at this stage we are short on detail.

For one I have been trying for a period of time now to obtain a copy of the “FEI Eventing Risk Management Action Plan” mentioned in the press release and the best answer I have obtained is that it is being updated and will be made available when the updating is complete.  To my knowledge although in the press release it states that “launched in January 2010” it has not been released publicly before now. So this will be an eagerly awaited document.

In addition as I have mentioned previously there was a meeting on the 28th of January 2011 at the offices of TRL in London to discuss the creation of an industrial standard for Frangible Devices to be used in Eventing.

Again more information has been promised at some stage, however in the meantime the only mention of this meeting having occurred from the FEI is a paragraph (below) in the FEI Monthly Review from November 2010. Here is a copy of the full document on the IEOC website.

Eventing: meeting at Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), Wokingham (GBR), 10 NovemberThe meeting took place to discuss the possible creation of industrial standards for frangible / deformable Cross Country fences.Among the 18 participants were the Chairman of the FEI Eventing Committee, researchers from the universities of Bristol (GBR) and Kentucky (USA), as well as MIM Construction AB (SWE) and several top Cross Country Course Designers.Several frangible and deformable devices were presented. Discussions included possible definitions of tests to be undertaken (ie. forces to be measured) for such fences and enabled the participants to set out the principles for a first draft, which will be further reviewed at a meeting in January 2011.

That said I have seen a copy of the minutes of this meeting in November and it sounds promising.  However I will reiterate my previous comments that only a select few were present at the meeting, the team from ProLog were a notable exception despite some very promising research conducted that they have real capacity to stop rotational falls before they even begin.

I think that is enough said until I can obtain copies of the documentation.

Yours in Eventing and please wear your safety helmet, securely fastened at all times when mounted.

John

A little about EventingSafety John on Eventing Nation

Well, lets start with the basics. My name is John Lechner, I am 36 and live in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, in Australia, about 2 hours from Sydney.  I am married to Kim (my very understanding and supporting partner who allows me to travel the globe chasing my dreams). I have two boys aged 6 & 5……………… more here

 

Great article in the New York Times on WEG Dressage and Helmets

Great article in the New York Times on wearing helmets in dressage at the 2010 World Equestrian Games

Excerpt

Dressage Riders Embrace Helmets, to a Point

By JILLIAN DUNHAM
Published: September 28, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Olympic dressage rider Courtney King Dye has no memory of the day last March when she jumped on a horse she was training, to demonstrate its progress to its owner. With inexperienced horses, she liked to wear a helmet as a safety precaution, but it was the busy winter show season in Palm Beach, Fla., and she was in a hurry.

Here is the Article

2010 Radio Show Episode 113 by SUCCEED


Daily radio coverage of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games continues with a wrap up of the days events. We recap Reining Qualifying competition and Dressage Team Grand Prix today as we record at the International Equestrian Festival in front of a live audience. Listen in…

2010 Radio Show Episode 113 by SUCCEED – Show Notes and Links:

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Are you really that Stupid!

Wear a helmet every time you ride a horse

Wear a helmet every time you ride a horse

Dramatic really, but I am sorry I am stunned and lost for words.

The Equestrian World’s elite are descending on the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington Kentucky USA. More horses and riders arrive every day in preparation for the games due to start in a few short hours. It is really important that after the inactivity of transport and quarantine that riders get out and about on their horses to iron out any wrinkles.

Travelling around Kentucky Horse Park is a great opportunity to celebrity spot and see some of the best horses in the world from different disciplines working side by side. I saw young Kiwi rider Clarke Johnstone worked in the same arena as Edward Gal and Totilas, awesome.

Celebrity spotting aside, there is already some cause for me to say WTF!! This is the world championships, the world is watching and dressage riders continue to believe they are immune from injury and ride without a safety helmet. I can understand wanting to ride into the main stadium with 7500 people cheering in your top hat and tails. BUT SERIOUSLY working out in an arena with other horses you don’t know in close proximity and you are not wearing a helmet, you must be really stupid. I am sorry I make no apologies for this.

Wear a helmet every time you ride a horse

Wear a helmet every time you ride a horse

To be a top dressage horse, it must be hyper fit and be on the edge, really the horse needs to be a bit bonkers to be the best. And then you get on without a helmet?

I cannot believe, the USEF, KHP, the FEI or even HRH allow this, given the level of scrutiny on our sports. Please wear a helmet everytime you ride any horse. if you are not convinced read some of the stories on riders 4 helmets.

No point wearing a Helmet if it is not on your head when you hit the ground

No point wearing a Helmet if it is not on your head when you hit the ground

We all need to be involved in the solution

From Grant Johnston FEI I Course Designer

As an International Course Designer and Builder, the one thing I can note is that we are always trying to build jumps as safely as possible.

I also note that at some of the major events this year in the UK and USA, that some of the frangible pin technology DID NOT fail when it should have. This may have been because the pins were not correctly installed, possibly the way the horse hit the fence meant that there was not enough pressure going ‘down’ or it could have been that the pins simply were not appropriate for the style of the fence.

I would hope that we in Australia could encourage Eventing NSW to lobby Equestrian Australia to provide funds for Course Safety improvements. Not only to provide ‘pins’ and the like freely to event organisers (there are also plenty of other safety improvements out there now besides pins), but also provide funding so both our professional and amatuer course builders, Course Designers AND Technical Delegates are shown HOW to install them and what situations they are appropriate.

There is no doubt that many of the new safety devices currently in use are expensive so many event organisers in Oz shy away from this due to budget constraints, which means that we need our governing body to assist in providing funds to make it more achievable for event organisers to make it safer… The other option will simply be, that for event organisers to make it viable they have to continue to increase entry fees, something which most riders DON’T want to see.

After spending some time in Europe this year at Badminton and other events, If I were still riding today, I would be investing in every technology I could to protect myself. A high quality body protector, an air jacket, the safest helmet my budget could afford and I wouldn’t ride ‘yanga’s’…

Also as a rider, I would be happy to put in for a ‘sinking’ fund that would not only assist in making our courses better, but also make the courses ‘SAFER’.

Riders need to lobby for this to happen.. It won’t happen on it’s own.

My Response

Thanks Grant I agree. In the US frangible pins are required and provided FREE by the USEF to all Events. NO limits. In Holland the cardboard poles are also REQUIRED and FREE to EVERY event, I think the Dutch add $2.5 euros to every entry to cover cost of poles and transport.

BUT that is only the first step. No point having them if people don’t know how to use them:

A.In the correct situation, on the right fences at the right height, weight, etc.
B How to install them correctly.

The best example of instructions I have found, and indeed the ONLY real one, is from the USEA, This document is constantly evolving to meet the changes, lessons learned and keep up with standards.

Here is the link for the USEA page on my site and here is the actual document.

As for the NEW technology, I too have been lucky enough to see the Mim Clip and ProLog in action this year. Both hold huge promise. Course Builders, Organisers, Federations and the FEI need to use, test, report, share and build a bank of data that can help us get to where we are currently with the frangible pins now, much quicker.

No excuses, no umming and arrring, JUST DO IT, because the quicker we get it right the more lives we will save, that simple. in the meantime, we must test in competition at ALL levels and sometimes we will NOT get it right, but better to fail trying than not at all.

As for here in Australia, to date, other than the fall study which is now a few years old. I have been unable to find ANY documents, minutes, guidelines or anything else related specifically to Eventing – Safety or Risk Management (whichever floats your boats) that has been produced here in Australia.

We need to seriously pull our fingers out and get on the front foot, support our Officials, Designers/Builders, Organisers and most importantly Horses & Riders and get this right.

I know first hand that the average small competition in Australia can’t afford to put the 6-10 frangible fences they need in. BUT can we as a sport afford for them NOT TOO. It is only a matter of time before we lose another rider in Australia. We don’t want to be in a position to say, that fence would have been pinned (or other) if we could afford it.