World experts in equestrian sport and risk management met last weekend at Tattersalls (IRL) for the Fédération Equestre Internationale’s (FEI) Eventing Risk Management summit, taking a 360 look at minimizing risk in the sport. Olympic gold medalist and Chair of the FEI Risk Management Steering Group David O’Connor (USA), who chaired the summit (10-12 February), described the outcome of the three-day meetings as “great strides forward”.
A total of 22 nations were represented though 80 delegates, including specially invited leading judges, trainers, athletes, technical delegates, risk management and technology experts, and National Safety Officers. The summit was also attended by the world’s most experienced 3* and 4* course designers, including the course designers for the last three Olympic Games, Pierre Michelet (Rio 2016), Sue Benson (London 2012) and Mike Etherington-Smith (Beijing 2008) plus Ian Stark (GBR), who designed the track for the Longines FEI European Championships 2015 in Blair Castle, Captain Mark Phillips (GBR) and Giuseppe Della Chiesa (ITA), also Chair of the FEI Eventing Committee.
David O’Connor lead and moderated presentations and discussions across the three days, which covered a wide range of topics, from the grass-roots to the top level of the sport, including coaching, course design, fence construction, the athletes’ perspective and the current and future roles of data and statistical analysis.
“This was a very important meeting which exceeded my expectations” David O’Connor said. “To have such a wealth of experience and knowledge brought together to present, discuss and debate ideas, combined with an outside technical perspective, covering the fundamental role of data analysis and statistics, is a crucial step. The level of conversation was extremely high, everyone involved is fully committed to taking risk management to a continued and improved level and I believe we are making great strides forward in minimizing risk.”
Presentations were made by some of the biggest names in the sport, including Olympian and former coach of Team Germany Chris Bartle, who is now performance coach for his home nation Great Britain, and six time Olympian, Andrew Nicholson (NZL).
A presentation from Equiratings led discussion on the collection, use and communication of data and took the delegation through their athlete performance index, the Equiratings Quality Index (EQI), an innovative statistical way of looking into the progression of athletes.
The Equiratings team of Sam Watson and Diarm Bryne hosted one of the most well attended seminars at the 2016 USEA Annual Meeting and Convention last December describing their EQI as well as how federations can use data to promote the sport. The USEA is currently in conversation with the Equiratings exploring how we can implement their system here in the U.S.
CEO Rob Burk, who was also present for this summit, said this of the new relationship between the USEA and Equiratings, “The USEA first reached out to the team from EquiRatings when their company was only just getting off the ground. We are excited that they are now ready and able to move forward and implement their system in the United States and beyond. The USEA and EquiRatings have been sharing data over the past several months and our plan is to roll out new USEA member services related to our partnership with their company in the near future. At this point in time we envision our members signing into their USEA online services account and having access to a straightforward ERQI score associated with each registered horse on their profile. Additional interesting analytics are also possible and we are working with EquiRatings to look at all of the possibilities.” Additional details of the arrangement will be forthcoming.
FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez says: “Last weekend’s Eventing Risk Management summit marks another important step in our work on minimising risk. The expert input of delegates from 22 nations around the world demonstrates the united aim of the FEI and the worldwide Eventing community to make the sport as safe as possible for both our human and equine athletes, and we look forward to presenting and discussing recommendations of the Risk Management Steering Group at the Sports Forum in April.”
The Eventing Risk Management Summit was one of the recommendations of the independent audit conducted by Charles Barnett.
Once finalised by the Risk Management Steering Group, the recommendations from the summit will go forward to the FEI Eventing Committee.
Recommendations will then be open for public consultation at the 2017 FEI Sports Forum (10-11 April) before presentation to the FEI Bureau at the 2017 General Assembly.