A ratings system is to be trialled at British Eventing (BE) competitions this year in what has been described as one of the most important cross-country safety developments “possibly ever”.
The organisation has teamed up with sports data analytics company EquiRatings to use its pioneering safety tracking system, the EquiRatings Quality Index (ERQI).
Eventing Ireland (EI) tested the ratings system in 2016, using it to create a “traffic light” entries system. This meant riders can see when attempting to enter an event whether their entry is marked as green (fine to enter), amber (a warning) or red (cannot enter). This adjusts depending on the horse’s ERQI rating, the level of class and which event the rider is trying to enter. Since it was introduced, there has been a 66% decrease in horse falls at national two-star level.
The first step ahead of the BE pilot is to establish the ERQI parameters for horses competing at its affiliated events. This will involve BE and Equiratings analysing competition and results data from recent years.
A limited pilot is planned for later this season, where the ratings system will be trialled at certain levels — potentially novice, intermediate and advanced.
Chris Farr, BE’s sports operations manager, described the system as “one of the most important developments in risk management in the sport, possibly ever”.
The EquiRatings system was founded by Irish eventer Sam Watson and former commercial lawyer Diarmuid Byrne.
It works by assessing a number of factors, including past results, course strength and form, to create individual risk profiles for each horse in a totally mathematical, objective way.
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“We are here to reduce falls, and more specifically horse falls, by helping riders and management track form and understand risk,” said Diarmuid.
“We have a hugely exciting and growing sport and we hope through ERQIs, we can continue to make it as safe as it can possibly be for all the BE membership.”
BE national safety officer, Jonathan Clissold, added the new tool will help riders and owners make informed decisions about each horse’s form and whether he should progress to the next level or not.