Why do we not talk more about fear when fear is a common emotion in cross-country riders? There is probably no sane person who is totally fearless and everyone has his or her limits. Even a Grand Prix race car driver, who is brave enough to average 150 miles per hour around a circuit, may well frighten himself trying to improve his time by just half a second. Fear is a basic human mechanism to place limits on what we do.
Modern cross-country courses have an emphasis on related combinations, often including one or two ‘skinny’ fences. It is therefore vital to understand how the stride length is affected by different factors so that you can make the distances work for you and reduce the room for error and risk. It is also vital to develop a ‘second nature’ safety position.
Any riding exercise is about the art of the possible. This is especially true with jumping exercises, when a step too far will compromise safety. Exercises and a method should be developed progressively that build confidence and competence for both horse and rider, and in particular also allows room for error.
Cross-country riding is often associated with steeplechasing but there are fundamental differences between the two sports. Firstly, you do it by yourself, not in the company of other horses, which encourages more level headed, less excited responses from your horse. Secondly, you should not go at your maximum speed in horse trials. Therefore the horses will be working well within themselves and this reduces the risks substantially.
Shannon Wood, a graduate student in the mechanical engineering program at the University of Kentucky, has published a thesis entitled “Safety Concepts for Every Ride: A Statistical Ensemble Simulation to Mitigate Rotational Falls in Eventing Cross-Country.”
We asked – you answered – and as a result, the USEA Foundation’s Frangible Technology Fundraising Initiative is closing in on its goal of FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS! You, our members, made that happen, and there are not enough thank yous in the world to show you how much we value you.
“When an accident happens you don’t have to completely overhaul everything, but you have to calmly look back at it and say ‘what are the problems and where do we have it right?’” explains Jonathan Holling, chair of the USEA Cross-Country Safety Subcommittee. “The reality is that the officials have been doing a pretty good job, and I think that a lot of what we have been doing has been making things safer. We just need to find where we can do even better.”
While eventing is currently on lockdown, the USEA Foundation, the USEA, and a group of organizers and eventing stakeholders have continued to work hard behind the scenes to make the sport safer for when the first horse is ready to leave the start box again. Today, the USEA Foundation is privileged to announce that the Manton Foundation has established a $250,000 matching grant to bolster fundraising efforts to improve safety on our cross-country courses.
For more than two decades, the sport of eventing worldwide has focused policy, research, and design innovation to increase understanding and reduce the occurrence and consequence of horse and rider injury. Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) statistics from 2002 show nearly 75 percent reduction of any rider injury.
The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation has always been devoted to the progression of equine research. Since its founding in 1940, Grayson-Jockey Club has helped advise various equine research specialties and protocols seen in our industry today. The Foundation has endorsed health recommendations for equine industry protocols, uncovered solutions to critical diseases, and found clues to numerous resolutions of equine health issues.
At the USEA Board of Governors meeting in August, the Equine Medical Research Committee recommended the funding of four studies using the $39,581 collected in 2018 and the Board approved their recommendation.