Fence type: not a major factor in rotational falls

  • Rider and horse qualifications are now under scrutiny in the second phase of a far-reaching audit into eventing commissioned by the FEI, with an emphasis on factors contributing to rotational falls.

    The first phase looked at statistics to isolate the most troublesome fence types, concluding that fence-related factors accounted for less than 10% variability.

    Charles Barnett, who is conducting the audit, said: “The other 90% is therefore due to other factors, so fence modifications may reduce falls — but we need to know more about the other 90%.”

    Mr Barnett is a former chief executive of Aintree and Ascot racecourses and was commissioned to lead the study last year by former FEI president Princess Haya.

    He presented initial findings to the FEI Sports Forum in April.

    “We wanted scientific evidence to support what the sport already suspects or knows,” he said.

    The details will not be published until the study is complete in November.

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    He added that statistics show that fence types most associated with falls are corners, square spreads, upright post-and-rails, jumps into and out of water, downhill fences, and combinations and approaches ridden either too fast or too slow.

    “It is the water rather than the combination aspect that is significant,” he added. “A corner to water with a parallel out has accounted for three rotational falls.”

    Mr Barnett’s appointment was aimed at utilising the expertise of a horse industry professional able to bring a fresh eye to eventing — he hunts ex-racehorses, and oversaw the various changes to mitigate risk in the Grand National.

    He visited Badminton last month for the first time in decades, and will attend the Pan Am Games and European events.

    Separately, the FEI has confirmed that Mr Barnett had no input into controversial proposals to change the Olympic eventing format, for which he has been partially blamed on social media.

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