FEI responds to frangible-device debate surrounding Pau cross-country

  • The FEI has responded to comments made by some riders after the Pau Horse Trials cross-country last Saturday (29 October).

    Frangible cross-country devices were the topic of debate after the five-star cross-country phase when eight riders activated the MIMClip on fence 21B, therefore incurring 11 penalties. This fence was an open corner in a water complex, three strides after a drop some two thirds of the way around the Pierre Michelet-designed track.

    The subject became a talking point among riders as some considered they had not hit the fence hard enough for it to warrant its collapsing, though undoubtedly there were some cases where the device saved falls.

    One of the riders to incur 11 penalties at this fence was Switzerland’s Felix Vogg, who had been in the lead after the dressage phase with Colero.

    A spokesman for the FEI told H&H: “Representatives of the FEI eventing risk management steering group (RMSG) have collected evidence from all relevant sources and undertaken a full review of the circumstances surrounding the release of the safety device on fence 21B during the cross-country at the CCI5* in Pau, where eight combinations incurred penalties.

    “Pierre Michelet said: ‘Fence 21AB was a true five-star test with a drop into water over a big log and three strides to an open corner designed to be jumped at an angle. The best riders did this well. For some riders, they jumped in awkwardly and/or took extra strides, taking off either too close or straight on to the corner deploying the frangible device. This was the five-star test’.”

    “Two of the activations almost certainly avoided a horse fall which is exactly what the sport is trying to achieve,” said Geoff Sinclair from the RMSG in relation to the Pau Horse Trials cross-country.

    The FEI added that in light of all evidence reviewed, which included video and scientific measurements, the RMSG concluded that the frangible device “provided the expected release”.

    “The fence required an accurate approach and rewarded the riders with the correct line towards the angled corner,” the spokesman said. ‘The Pau organisers ensured that the clips were changed any time a horse touched the fence so that it was fair for every competitor.

    “The FEI has collected data for the past 20 years and has identified open corners as the fence type that cause the most horse falls. This is why a specific standard has been developed for fences intended to be jumped at an angle.”

    The spokesman said the the FEI eventing “vision statement” and risk management policy states that five-star cross-country courses must maintain the highest level of difficulty, as well as maintaining the correct influence on the overall results, but with a safe approach.

    “The result of the Pau 2022 cross-country achieved this goal as no horse falls were registered during the test and the difficulty of the course was of five-star level,” he said.

    • What are your views about MIMClips and the penalties associated within them in FEI eventing? Let us know your thoughts by emailing hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and county.

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