‘We owe it to the eventing community’: Group works on making sport safer

  • Fence design and new ways of reducing horse falls are among the topics to be investigated by the FEI’s eventing risk management steering group, which held its first meeting this week.

    The group, which met on 19 October at the FEI headquarters in Switzerland, was set up to look into minimising risk in the sport, with a focus on “coordinating risk management initiatives on a global basis”.

    An FEI spokesman said that a framework for the group’s work has now been established.

    “This includes investigating new ways to reduce horse falls, and identifying factors to decrease the number of serious injuries to athletes and horses using research studies from around the world relating to risk management,” he said.

    “Other key areas are the evaluation of statistical analysis gathered to date, including athlete qualifications and performance history, and a review of fence design.

    “Safety equipment, the education of athletes and officials, and the roles and responsibilities of officials will also be reviewed.”

    The group is chaired by American David O’Connor, the 2000 Olympic eventing champion, and includes British cross-country course-designer Mike Etherington-Smith and British event rider Daisy Berkeley.

    “The meeting was a great starting point for the group,” David said.

    “There are a tremendous amount of questions to be asked and we are all very serious about trying to find answers to those questions. I think it is a good forward step for the FEI, building on the extensive work that has been done over the last 16 years.

    “We all love this sport and acknowledge that it carries inherent risks, but we owe it to everyone in the eventing community to do everything we can to make it as safe as possible for our athletes and for our horses.

    The group’s remit also includes worldwide communication and sharing of information, with the FEI as the point of contact for research ideas.

    A presentation of the group’s findings will be made at the FEI Sports Forum in April next year, and a risk management meeting is to be held next February.

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    FEI secretary general Sabrina Ibáñez said: “This first meeting marks an important point in the acceleration of our efforts on safety.

    “The sport has suffered such terrible losses this year and these affect us all very deeply. The wide-ranging expertise of the members of this group will play a crucial part in our ongoing work to make the sport as safe as possible.”

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