Eventing Risk Management Plan Unveiled by FEI

A new worldwide Eventing Risk Management Policy and Action Plan aimed at reducing cross-country horse falls was launched at the third annual FEI Safety meeting in Malmö, Sweden, Jan. 17. Based on a six-year statistical study of the sport, the plan will be used to monitor risk factors in eventing, and to streamline international data and ideas to further understand the root causes of falls.

This is the first time that a statistical database has monitored the sport on a global basis.

The FEI Eventing Committee has set the target to reduce horse falls by 10% (and 20% at 4-star level) over the next three years. Already, data for the period from 2004-2009 shows that, despite a significant increase in the popularity of the sport--a 35% increase in the number of competitions and a 22.5% increase in the total number of starters--the percentage of horse falls has decreased from 2.02% to 1.73%.

"Eventing is and will remain a risk sport. Our duty is to manage that risk," said Giuseppe Della Chiesa of Italy, the new chairman of the FEI Eventing Committee and the FEI Eventing Risk Management advisor. "Our major goal was to have a professional system to monitor and manage the risk in the sport and we now have that. This is not an emotional reaction, it's a structure that provides a systematic approach to managing the risks involved in our sport. There will still be accidents, but we can use this system to better manage the risk and keep it within acceptable and accepted levels."

The action plan includes:

  • A statistical database to include medical and veterinary data on falls;
  • A standardized template to achieve consistency in the collection of international data (produced twice a year);
  • Compulsory appointment of a National Safety Officer (NSO) by all countries organizing international eventing competitions to collate statistics and gather information for the FEI in the event of a serious accident;
  • FEI guidelines on cross-country course design aimed at minimizing risk;
  • Continuing work on frangible pins and deformable structures for cross-country fences;
  • Education of everyone involved in the sport of eventing--riders, officials, and course designers;
  • Risk management will become an integral part of all national seminars;
  • Increased focus and education about the definition of dangerous riding.

"The Eventing Risk Management Policy and Action Plan is a major step towards ensuring that our horses and riders are not exposed to unnecessary risk in what is inherently a risk sport," said Alex McLin, FEI secretary general. "In the past there has been a tendency just to count the accidents, but we need to be more proactive and count all the near-misses too. It's all part of a cultural shift in the mindset of the sport. Education is key."

Twenty-two nations were represented at the forum.

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