A colour-coded rating system for eventers is being rolled out in Ireland in a bid to improve horse and rider safety.
Eventing Ireland (EI) is working with eventing analytics company EquiRatings to use data to help prevent cross-country falls.
EquiRatings, set up by Irish four-star rider Sam Watson (pictured, top) and lawyer Diarmuid Byrne, has created a form-tracking system that has analysed more than 150,000 results.
This system is called the EquiRatings Quality Index (ERQI). Statistics show a link between a low ERQI and the likelihood of combinations incurring penalties, elimination and falls across country.
Mr Watson told H&H he thinks the system is going to be a “big step forward”.
“The two things at the top of our agenda are to increase the safety of horses and riders, and the overall welfare of horses. We have to be proactive.”
He added that other national federations have made enquiries about the system.
Each horse/rider combination is given a ranking of green, amber or red and the idea is to promote a responsible attitude towards campaigning an event horse.
Green means the pair can compete at the level at which they want to enter. Amber means there are “significant warning signs” in the combination’s cross-country form and EI “strongly advises” that they compete at a lower level until performance improves.
A red rating — typically just one cross-country clear in the past five to 10 attempts — gives EI the power to stop a combination entering that class.
Combinations at the lowest level (EI90) on a red rating must be assessed by an approved trainer.
The ranking will be visible to the organisation and the rider, but not the public.
The average rider fall rate in EI is 1.5%, but red zone riders have a fall rate almost three times higher at 4.3%.
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Downgrading — where a pair must move down a level following two eliminations for falls in the showjumping or refusals and/or falls across country — is already in place under EI rules.
EI chairman Georgia Stubington said: “Eventing is a risk sport and we will never eliminate all risk, but this is a huge step forward into today’s digital world.”
Ref: H&H 25 February, 2016