Through the collaborative and generous commitments of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA), the U.S. Eventing Association (USEA), and a major matching grant from Jacqueline Mars, more than $425,000 has been committed in just a few short months to further the safety of equestrian athletes across all breeds and disciplines. The USET Foundation has provided their enthusiastic endorsement of the program via education and awareness with their constituents as well. These critical funds will support further research into U.S. helmet safety standards and the creation of an equestrian-specific rating system, providing riders insight into how helmet models compare when looking at safety and protection. One hundred percent of funds raised will support independent research at the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab to develop this important sport-specific rating system. In addition to the financial fundraising component of the program, USEF has shared important data on falls and injuries from USEF competitions, which will be used in the research and development of the Equestrian STAR rating project at the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab.
"Fundraising and awareness efforts accelerated quickly for the project following a presentation I gave one year ago at the USHJA Annual Meeting on the VT Helmet Lab STAR Ratings," said Dr. Barry Miller, Director of Outreach and Business Development for the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab. "We were asked what it would take to develop the system for equestrian sport: $450,000 to have the system available in 18-24 months. The USHJA jumped on board immediately with a generous commitment, then Jacqueline Mars stepped up with her own matching donation, which the USEF Board of Directors and USEA Board of Governors matched dollar for dollar. We are ready now to get the initiative underway.
"It was great to work with the leaders from all the organizations, together with Jacqueline Mars, to quickly and collectively pull this together on behalf of all members across all breeds and disciplines to benefit improved safety for all.”
To date, the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab has developed STAR helmet ratings for sports including football, youth football, soccer, flag football, cycling, and hockey. Since 2011, Virginia Tech researchers have been providing unbiased helmet ratings that allow consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing helmets. The helmet ratings are the culmination of over 10 years of injury biomechanics research with special attention to concussions and which helmets best reduce concussion risk (www.vt.edu/helmet).
With $425,000 committed, work will begin on the rating system, but the fund will remain open for donations. Any additional money raised will go towards accelerating the development timeline. Your tax-deductible donation can be made directly to the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab, with 100% of all funds going directly to this research.
The USEA offers many programs to help the development of upcoming event horses such as the Future Event Horse (FEH) program which focuses on yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds, the Young Event Horse (YEH) program which serves as an eventing talent search for 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds under saddle, and the New Event Horse program which is an adaption of the YEH program that was designed to serve as an introduction of the sport of eventing for horse and rider that provides a stepping stone to recognized eventing. For the first time ever, USEA Area IV will be hosting a competition that features all three of these programs at Woodloch Stable in Hugo, Minnesota on July 9, 2022.
It’s time to meet the teams of the 2022 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships! A total of 92 competitors, 12 schools, and 23 teams will be competing at the 2022 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships on May 21-22 at Chattahoochee Hills H.T. in Fairburn, Georgia.
Entries are strong leading up to the exciting return of the MARS Bromont CCI that is taking place June 8-12 in rural Bromont, Quebec. Bromont is a popular destination for North American competitors who are eager to return to this 1976 Olympic Games venue just 90 minutes from Burlington, Vermont.
Five-star season is well underway and four U.S.-based pairs have turned their focus toward the CCI5*-L at the Longines Luhmühlen Horse Trials which takes place June 16-19 in Salzhausen, Germany. We caught up with each rider to get their thoughts on their decision to make the trek overseas and what they hope their horses glean from the experience.