International eventing safety statistics for 2010 show that while more people are eventing, the incidence of falls is getting smaller.

The provisional figures (see right) were revealed at the FEI’s annual safety conference in London (29-30 January).

The figures — compiled from 40 nations’ statistics — show one in every 19 rounds ended in a fall in 2009-10, compared with one in 17 in 2005.

Chairman of the FEI eventing committee Guiseppe della Chiesa said: “We have more events each year, but our priority is to ensure riders don’t face unnecessary danger. The number of horse falls [240 in 2010] is still of concern.”

The rules for 2011 have been tightened over dangerous riding, to include incompetent riding as well as dangerous acts.

Organisers can eliminate a rider before the cross-country if they their feel riding is not up to the mark. Before, a low dressage score was needed to be barred.

And particular levels of trauma training are now specified for medical staff at FEI horse trials.

The FEI is also investigating creating industry-wide standards for frangible and deformable fences.

With the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory they hope to produce a working document by the end of March.

The FEI’s Catrin Norinder said: “This could be a long process, but we need to get it right.”

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (10 February, 2011)