Rotational falls in eventing at all-time low – but more work ‘still to do’

  • Rotational fall rates reached an all-time low in international eventing in 2022.

    Last year had a record number of events and starters, with 788 competitions and 21,560 starters – an increase of 19.4% on the number of competitions in 2021 and a 12.1% increase in starters.

    FEI eventing committee chairman David O’Connor and FEI risk management steering group chairman Geoff Sinclair presented the data at the federation’s eventing risk management forum in Jardy last month.

    The headline figure was the drop in rotational fall rates. The percentage of starters having a rotational fall, which have the highest risk of injury for horse and rider, has decreased from 0.2% in 2011 to 0.07% last year. This equates to a drop from one rotational fall every 510 starters to one in every 1,437 starters.

    Rates of non-rotational horse falls at a cross-country fence are not as low as they were in the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, but are lower than they were pre-pandemic and significantly below 2011, which was the first year of “realistic reliable data”.

    With the exception of the two pandemic years, 2022 also marked the lowest number of horse falls and rotational falls in real terms since 2011.

    Mr O’Connor said the reductions are “to be congratulated” but “there is still work to do”.

    “Rotational falls have really reduced by a tremendous amount – we’re at our lowest rate,” he said.

    “Everything that we’re doing from course-design to shapes of fences and frangible technology coming in, is what is driving that number down.”

    Mr O’Connor also voiced concerns that he feels concussions may be under-reported. The FEI has collected concussion data since 2018. In 2022, 17 were reported – 10 linked to serious injury and seven to slight injury.

    He added that his impression from dealing with other horse sports is that the figure is “underrated”, and questioned whether that is down to the reporting process or recognition of concussions.

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