US eventing community acts to improve safety after rider’s death

  • A group of US event riders and organisers have come together to raise funds for more widespread use of frangible devices in their country following the death of rider Katharine Morel in a rotational fall last weekend.

    The 33-year-old Canadian and her horse Kerry On both died following the accident on the intermediate cross-country course at Rocking Horse Stables Winter III Horse Trials in Florida on Saturday (29 February).

    Speaking in a video posted online, the United States Equestrian (USEF) national safety officer Jon Holling called on the US equestrian community to help roll out more collapsible fence technology.

    The United States Eventing Association (USEA) currently provides $26,000 (£21,150) each year in frangible technology grants, which are distributed directly to event organisers.

    Mr Holling said the money was a good start but “not enough” to be make changes at the necessary pace, and that it was time to be “doing something to make a real difference”.

    “We need to raise $500,000 (£387,500), so in three years time at preliminary level and above, there are no longer tables on our courses that are not collapsible or frangible,” he said. “Also in those three years, there will be no excuse, any fence on course that can be frangible in some way [will be].

    “We need to get this started,” he added. “It’s going to cost more than $500,000, but that’s a start and we need to get it done.”

    Mr Holling is encouraging US equestrians to donate either directly to USEA’s frangible pin fund via their drop down menu here, or to the GoFundMe page he has set up.

    Two days after it launched, the GoFundMe campaign had already raised $67,000 (£51,800).

    The USEA formed a cross-country safety task force in 2014 to examine and improve obstacle design and safety. Following its recommendations in 2018, a rule was introduced that “all fences above training level must employ frangible technology where possible”.

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    In the UK, all British Eventing (BE) events receive frangible pins and MIM clips completely free of charge, as these are fully funded by BE.

    BE have made frangible pinning kits mandatory on all suitable fences since 2006 and have supplied them free since 2012. There has also been no charge for reverse-pinning clips since 2014 and MIM clips since 2016.

    Frangible pins were first introduced into eventing in 2002, when they were successfully trialled at nine different horse trials including Badminton. The pins were designed to be used on post and rail-style fences while the development of the MIM safety clip, approved by the FEI 2012, has enabled a wider array of obstacles to become collapsible, including tables.

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