Calls for safety stirrups to be made compulsory in eventing

  • The FEI is considering whether to make safety stirrups compulsory for eventing – as the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) confirmed it is “working towards” a safety standard.

    The discussion arose during the FEI eventing risk management forum in Jardy last month.

    Five-time Olympian William Fox-Pitt said he feels “very strongly that safety stirrups in our sport are a no-brainer”.

    “I would not let anyone go without a stirrup that either has a curvy edge, where the foot comes away quickly, or one with a deformable side,” he said.

    He added that there are many varieties and “some maybe aren’t good enough”, so as a sport, eventing has to find ones that fit the bill.

    “There are incidents where I’ve been dragged, Harry [Meade] has been dragged. In those incidents, how lucky are we to even be alive?

    “We do everything with hats, body protectors, frangible fences – surely stirrups, if we can do something, should become part of that.”

    Olympic and world medallist Clayton Fredericks agreed.

    “I think we should insist that each rider is coming with a safety stirrup of some sort anyway,” he said.

    “I realise we want to have high standards of that, but the reality is some form of safety stirrup is better than none and being dragged. So I think it’s a no-brainer. We should make it compulsory.”

    FEI risk management steering group chairman Geoff Sinclair told the forum that not having a safety standard makes it difficult to require riders to use safety stirrups, but asked those present to consider whether they should make them “highly recommended”.

    Badminton and Olympic gold medal-winner Jane Holderness-Roddam said: “As a child, we always had safety stirrups and I’m horrified to think that nowadays, it’s not compulsory in all equestrian sports, really.

    “There are an awful lot of stirrups out there and some I’ve seen just snap that are supposed to be safety stirrups. There definitely needs to be a standard, I think, and BETA would I’m sure be very happy to help to do that.”

    BETA chief executive Claire Williams told H&H that the association is working towards setting a standard for safety stirrups.

    “The first thing we need to do is to reach a consensus statement on what exactly a safety stirrup is,” she said. “We cannot write a safety standard until that is decided.”
    She explained that there are many different variations in how safety functions work on stirrups. This makes it a different challenge to writing a standard for more uniform products, such as a hat or body protector, but work is under way.

    • What do you think? Send your thoughts to hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and country, for potential inclusion in the Horse & Hound letters pages

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