“The time is now” for mandatory use of frangible devices in cross-country fences, according to the United States Eventing Association (USEA).

In a statement released yesterday (18 October), the association called on the FEI to make a rule that frangibles must be used on certain fences.

“The time has come to take a stronger stance on the usage of frangible technology in the sport of eventing,” said a USEA spokesman.

“We as the leaders of the sport have the moral obligation to say that the time for use of all currently available safety technology is now.

“With that in mind, the USEA cross-country safety sub-committee strongly recommends that the FEI mandates rather than strongly recommends that all open rail fences, gates, oxers and oxer corners must be built using reverse frangible technology. The time is now.”

mim clip

MIM Clip

A spokesman for the FEI told H&H that the global use of frangible technology is one of its “goals in risk management”, and it is working with national federations around the world on the implementation of this technology.

“Frangible technology is being used extensively in many countries, and there are around 3,500 of these devices currently in use globally at international level, not including those used at national events,” she said.

“Eventing takes place at international level in around 40 countries worldwide with many more hosting national level events and not all of these countries have the immediate resources and knowledge to support the correct implementation of frangible technology.

“It is the FEI’s role to provide the necessary educational and logistical support to national federations to enable them to source approved devices, ensure their correct use and ultimately decide when the time is right to make their use compulsory so that frangible technology is used effectively worldwide.

“It is important to note that frangible devices are one element in a wide spectrum of risk management initiatives and, while they are clearly an important component, they will not in themselves eliminate all risk from the sport.”

A large-scale international cross-country safety study is currently being conducted on behalf of USEA and it is hoped the findings will help inform safer fence designs.

The research project started in 2016 and is expected to continue until next summer.

“The study is focused on developing computer simulations of horse-fence contact that will enable us to understand design requirements for new deformable and frangible devices,” said Dr Suzanne Weaver Smith, who is carrying out the research with a team at the University of Kentucky.

“The simulations will enable designers to develop new devices with information on what direction, how far, and how fast [the devices] must operate.

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“One of the challenges in the past has been not having this information. To accomplish this requires bringing together many different prior studies with new data.

“Having better information for device designers, course-designers, course-builders and others will enable the best design and use of frangible and deformable solutions.

“It’s a large effort, but we have made excellent progress and are on track to achieve our goals.”

For a full exploration of frangibles, their use and future technology, don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out today (19 October)