The Mim NewEra Team are hard at it

At maximum height 120cm the Mim adjustable Post and Rail

At maximum height 120cm the Mim adjustable Post and Rail

Mats Björnetun and Anders Flogård of MIM Construction Frändefors Sweden are never happy with just letting things roll along.  Having developed, tested and rolled out samples across the globe, Mats and Anders have both been working hard at demonstrating how flexible their product is.

I mentioned in my last post that the Mim NewEra seems to have been pigeonholed in the US as a device to make a table frangible.  This device is so much more, in fact I have not seen a table used apart from the one at Chat Hills.

What I have seen is

  • a vertical gate
  • upright skinny and the video clip on this post demonstrates how competition durable the Clip system is

And now we have this, a frangible post and rail that is adjustable in height, YES adjustable, it can be used for a lower end national class one weekend and the next be rolled out for a 4*, in my time I have not seen a fence this flexible.  Thanks again to Anders and Mats for helping to change the way we think about XC fences.

With dressing and some good ground anchors, this could be used at an Event near you.

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

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

At mimimum height of 85cm the mim adjustable Post and Rail

At mimimum height of 85cm the mim adjustable Post and Rail

 

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Reluctance to promote Frangible Fences………………………….

Safety or Risk Management – whichever you prefer, in Eventing has a number of aspects and opportunities for improvement.  One of the most critical is to “Prevent Rotational Falls”.  Why, Rotational Falls are responsible for the highest number of serious injuries and fatalities to horses and riders. This is a relatively simple goal.  Much harder in execution, for a number of reasons:

  1. Not every fence can or should be frangible otherwise we are just talking about showjumping.
  2. There is no simple application, different fences, building materials and locations of fences can lead to different issues.
  3. To date, no frangible device will work with all fence types, although some are getting close.
  4. Frangibility and consistency of results and fairness need to be as uniform as possible.
  5. Improving the quality of riding will help to reduce dangerous falls, although a number of high profile falls recently have proven that even the best can have rotational falls.
  6. What about the consequences on results of a serious XC mistake having no penalty? Thanks to a frangible device.

Quite rightly there is no simple answer, however there seems to be resistance from a number of angles in accepting and even embracing these new technologies and methodologies, without years of vigorous testing, analysis and use.  There is definitely a real case for getting it right, however as a sport, are we not better off to be seen rushing into some new technologies rather than dragging the chain whilst horses and riders die or have near misses.

A quick look at the web-sites of the biggest Three Day Events across the globe does not yield any information or focus on the Frangible Fences.  For instance, one would think that given intense media scrutiny these top events are under they would publicise those initiatives in place to help saves lives and reduce injuries.  There is a story in Horsetalk about the use of Reverse Frangible Pins at the 2010 Badminton Horse Trials, however this is about all there is.

Almost all major events use Frangible Technologies in some form, why do they not spruke about this, have a focus in their media releases, show the fences on their interactive course maps and show how they are designed to fail?  If it is good enough and promoted by our biggest and most prestigious events then it must be good enough to use at smaller national and international events.  As a sport we know we can improve safety and reduce the chances of life threatening injury to horse and rider, surely a higher profile focus on these improvements and initiatives will help us to deliver “good pictures” and good stories about our sport.

If not we will be left with videos on youtube, photos on front pages of newspapers or TV and Radio stories deploring the injuries and fatalities in our sport.  Did you know that a young lady died in May competing at 1 star level in eventing,  she will not be the last but we can ensure that as a sport we learn from her loss and the loss of others who have died or been seriously injured competing.

We have a plan as a sport, that plan needs to come to the forefront of everything we do, what we promote and where we are heading.  Let’s be proactive and talk about it at every opportunity and publicise our successes not just our failures or near misses.

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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.

EventingSafety on Stable Scoop Show on Horse Radio Network

This week I was lucky enough to be invited to be part of the second annual twitter show on Stable Scoop.  The concept is great, if you are on twitter and follow @horseradio you were offered the chance to be part of the show, with a limit of 10 tweeps being involved.  I jumped at the chance to spread the word about EventingSafety even though the interviews were to be recorded around 3am here in Australia.

With no thanks to technology, I was able to talk to Glenn and Helena for my 4 min spot and here is the resulting show on the Horse Radio Network.

Stable Scoop – The Second Annual Twittter Marathon Episode No. 96 featuring John from EventingSafety

Another sad day for our sport

Unfortunately a young lady, only 16 years old, lost her life participating in our sport on the weekend. In today’s age of social media it is on youtube, however I wont be posting the link nor giving you any help to see it. Believe me you don’t want to see it.

That said it was a classic rotational fall where the horse landed fair and square on the rider. In the video the horse gets up and looks fine but there is no movement at all from the rider.

The video does highlight another issue that does bear more discussion and is a bit of a bugbear of mine, securing portable fences, the fence in this fall is portable and rotates with the horse. It definitely wasn’t secured properly at the front, whether this may have prevented the rotation is speculation, but the fence was not secured at the front.

I know that many course builders find it honorous to secure every portable down on a course but there is definitely just cause for doing so, this is a good example.

Auger Bit

Ground anchor from ETBJump.com

A friend of mine also had a fall last year which witnesses say was worse because the fence stayed under the horse giving him nowhere to put down. The end result was that the horse suffered a permanent brain injury and the rider sustained liver, chest and brain injuries thankfully none permanent.

I have seen many ways to secure a fence during my short time in the sport and often they are inadequate or an afterthought.  This is an attitude that needs to change, securing fences safely and at the front to prevent the whole fence rotating must become normal practice.

The best, quickest and safest method I have seen was at Red Hills Horse Trials which was built by Eric Bull and his crew.  Eric has developed a system, adapted from others I believe, which can be put into place in minutes.  Importantly, it can be removed almost as quickly and does not require digging holes.

Auger Bit

Ground anchor from ETBJump.com

There are two parts to the system which Eric sells on his website etbjump.com, the first part is a right angle bracket that is screwed to the fence at it’s lowest point on the front, either face or sides, depending on the fence.  The second part is basically like a large auger bit with a hex head on the top.

The auger is driven into the ground through the slot on the angle piece with a bar.  This is quick and the bit screws itself into the ground so that it really bites into the ground.  There are two lengths available so you can use a longer bit on sandier or softer soil to get more bite.

To remove you simply use a large socket wrench and unscrew the bit from the ground and then undo the screws holding the bracket to the fence.  All component are 100% reusable so the cost is one off and the occasional broken screw.

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