The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) is to undertake a major review of eventing following the recent spate of rider deaths in the sport.

Seven riders have died while eventing around the world in the past 10 months, the most recent being Julie Silly at Jardy in France (news, 10 May) and Jo-Anne Williams at Sapey (news, 26 April). The deaths have occurred at events from novice to advanced.

While the FEI holds records of rider deaths at international competitions only, according to British Eventing (BE), 23 riders have died in Britain alone over the past 25 years, four of whom were killed in 1993 and five in 1999.

“We will look at prevention, analysis and medical response,” said US rider David O’Connor, who is chairing the FEI safety sub-committee set up last week. “We want to see what we can do to prevent accidents, whether there is a common thread to falls, and will look at how we do things worldwide when an accident has occurred.”

The FEI has been compiling data on events for the past five years, an initiative started by BE. Mr O’Connor plans to invite a rider, course-designer, technical delegate and trainer to join the sub-committee. Additional expertise will be invited to assist the group when necessary.

Mr O’Connor said the committee is not looking to make major changes to the sport.

“I think we will stumble on something we haven’t been doing. For example, we only currently use frangible pins and brushes, and there are other technologies out there we are not researching.” he said.

BE has had a safety committee for nearly eight years. Acting sports director Mike Etherington-Smith told H&H: “The FEI is now doing what we have been doing in the UK for some time and it’s long overdue.”

Read this news story in full in today’s issue of Horse & Hound (17 May, ’07)