Nov 26, 2023

Rule Refresher: Frangible Essentials for Riders and Jump Judges

Effective Dec. 1, 2023, USEF rule EV145.8 will require, whenever possible, new cross-country obstacles (for which frangible devices are appropriate) to be constructed with FEI approved frangible technology for the Training level and above (previously it was Modified and above).

FEI rule 547.2.4 already mandates this technology, where appropriate, at all international levels (1-5*). These requirements suggest riders and cross-country jump judges will be seeing an increasing number of obstacles fitted with frangible devices like the MIMsafe MIMclip or British Eventing (BE) Reverse Frangible Pin. It is essential that riders and jump judges have an understanding of the rules governing frangible device obstacles. There are at least ten (10) possible outcomes to a combination attempting to jump a frangible obstacle and both national (USEF) and international (FEI) rules provide guidance on the scoring of each.

While both the MIMclip and BE Reverse Pin are approved for use, obstacles using MIMclip kits (Open Oxers, Post & Rails, Walls/Gates, Tables and Open Corners) are more commonly seen in the United States.

Developed and manufactured by Swedish company MIMsafe, they allow specially built cross-country obstacles to safely collapse when impacted by significant vertical force (e.g. approximately 700 Joule minimum for the back rail of an oxer, if the obstacle is built within the manufacturer’s specifications and the metal clips have not been compromised by fatigue).

For comparison, approximately 5 Joule force is required to displace a show jump rail (source: FEI Eventing Cross-Country Guide, April 20, 2023 Update). The frangible system is designed to reduce the severity of falls and minimize the risk of rotational falls. MIMclips (red or yellow in color) are used in pairs and are equipped with an indicator that bends outward (to approximately 45 degrees) to show fatigue following hard hits that do not activate the device (see photos 1-2). Timely replacement of fatigued clips ensures fair judging for all riders.

Yellow clips, which break at approximately 70% of the energy of the red clip, are used on corners/angled jumps and tables. The intended line the course designer wants competitors to jump and/or type of jump are determining factors when deciding which color clip to use. If a fence is intended to be jumped at an angle, it must be fitted with a yellow clip. From MIMsafe: “If a competitor chooses to take the risk and jump a yellow clipped fence straight on, then even though it releases more easily, the FEI has determined normal penalties apply if activated” (source: mimclip.mimsafe.com/implementation).

The primary 2023 rules governing scoring of incidents at frangible obstacles are EV 121.7, EV 122.1-4 and EV 123 for USEF/National events and FEI 545.7, 548.1 and 549 for FEI/International events. These rules are available for free online from the USEF website and the FEI website. The FEI FAQ Frangible Devices (March 8, 2023) document is a helpful resource.

While considering all the possible outcomes of attempting to jump a frangible obstacle, in short, if the frangible jump is not activated, the jump is judged just like any other obstacle with height on course. If, however, the frangible is activated during a clear jump and the dimensions of the fence are modified, the rider is assessed an 11-point penalty. If the frangible is activated during a refusal, the rider is only assessed the penalty for the refusal.

Most importantly, the time to repair the obstacle so that the rider can re-present must be taken in order to deduct the hold time from the rider’s total time. The following is a list of scenarios that might be experienced at a frangible, along with actions needed to be taken and applicable rules. Wording here is focused on MIMclip devices but similar actions apply to the BE Reverse Pin.

  1. Combination jumps clear without striking any part of the obstacle.

Result: 0 penalty points. Combination continues course.

  1. Combination jumps clear but strikes the jump without damaging clips/jump.

Result: 0 penalty points. Combination continues course. Jump judge must inspect jump/clips to ensure no damage/fatigue to clips.

  1. Combination jumps clear but strikes jump, triggering one or both MIMclip fatigue warning tabs, indicating that the metal has been compromised.

Result: 0 penalty points. Combination continues course. Jump judge must inspect clips/jump and immediately report damaged to Control. Compromised clips must be replaced before the next horse.

  1. Combination jumps clear but strikes jump, resulting in one clip falling off or being broken while the other clip maintains the dimensions of the obstacle (the obstacle does not collapse).

Result: 0 penalty points. Combination continues course. Jump judge must inspect clips, immediately report damage to Control and damage must be repaired before the next horse. FEI 548.1.

  1. Combination jumps clear but strikes jump, resulting in activation of one or both clips which cause the dimensions of the obstacle to be modified (the obstacle collapses). Note: one clip may activate (break) while the other clip might simply fall away, allowing the obstacle to collapse.

Result: 11 penalty points. Jump judge immediately reports to Control that the frangible has been activated (giving fence number and rider number). Obstacle must be repaired before the next horse on course (timely reporting of the activation is essential to prevent a course hold). Jump judge ensures flags, ground lines and decorations are returned to their proper position. EV123.1 & FEI 548.1. Note: The 2023 FEI FAQ Frangible Devices and 2022 Update FAQ Judging Narrow Fences indicates that if a rider was clear on their first attempt but was not sure (such as in a suspected run-out vs. missed flag situation) and re-presents, if they activate a frangible device on the second attempt then no frangible penalty should be given to the combination (FEI events only).

  1. Combination has a refusal/run-out without striking any part of the obstacle.

Result: Score as with any refusal/run-out. Combination re-attempts if not eliminated by the accumulation of previous refusals. EV122.2, 123 & FEI 548.1, 549.1/2.

  1. Combination has a refusal/run-out and contacts the obstacle without activating frangible.

Result: Score as with any refusal/run-out. Combination re-attempts if not eliminated. Jump judge must afterwards inspect jump/clips to ensure no damage/fatigue to clips. If damaged/fatigued, report to Control immediately. EV122.2, 123 & FEI 548.1, 549.1/2.

  1. Combination has a refusal/run-out, contacts the obstacle with enough force to cause one or both MIMclips to activate and the dimensions of the obstacle are modified (the obstacle collapses).

Result: Refusal/run-out penalty points only (e.g. 20 if first attempt). Jump judge must immediately start a timer, report the refusal and frangible activation to Control and advise the rider their time is being taken. The combination will hold at the jump until the fence has been repaired - then re-attempt. The time taken for repair (as documented by the jump judge’s timer) will be deducted from the rider’s overall course time. Note: The FEI FAQ Frangible Devices (March 8, 2023) states that a combination should be eliminated if they jump an already activated frangible obstacle and continue on course before it has been rebuilt (FEI 525 Dangerous Riding). EV121.7.a/c, 122.2, 123 & FEI 545.2.2, 545.7, 545.7.1, 548.1, 549.1/2.

  1. Combination has a Rider Fall while attempting the obstacle, with or without activation of the frangible device.

Result: Elimination. Jump judge, after handling the fall, should inspect obstacle/clips for damage. If frangible was activated or clips fatigued during incident, immediately report the damage to Control. EV122.4, 123 & FEI 548.1, 549.5.1.

  1. Combination has a Horse Fall while attempting the obstacle, with or without activation of the frangible device, or the horse becomes trapped in such a way it is unable to proceed without assistance.

Result: Mandatory Retirement (USEF)/Elimination (FEI). Jump judge, after handling the fall/trapped horse, should inspect obstacle/clips for damage. If frangible was activated or clips fatigued during incident, immediately report the damage to Control. EV121.6, 122.4, 123 & FEI 545.6, 548.1, 549.5.2.

A frangible obstacle requires a bit more attention from the jump judge (and rider) since clips can be compromised before or during the event. All clips should be inspected by the assigned jump judge for fatigue/damage prior to the competition, regularly throughout the competition and after any impact with the fence (check both sides for damage). The Technical Delegate (TD) or Course Builder/Fence Repair personnel will provide the jump judge with a briefing as to how to inspect the clips and what to do should they be compromised. If a frangible obstacle is activated, the jump judge should stand by to provide assistance, as able and requested, to fence repair personnel.

Spectators/course walkers should not lean on, stand on or sit on a frangible obstacle! They could compromise the clips or activate the frangible. Since a pair of MIMclips currently cost about $32.40, they should not be wasted by being needlessly compromised. The yellow clips are especially vulnerable to inadvertent damage and someone sitting or standing on a jump which activates could be injured. MIMsafe makes a silver clip that is to be used when the obstacle is not being used or is moved. This silver clip does not activate and should not be used during competition. Also, frangible obstacles should never be jumped in the wrong direction! They only work in one direction (the intended course path).

In summary, riders and jump judges should be familiar with the unique situations that may occur at frangible obstacles and be prepared to quickly apply the national/international rules governing those situations. Fair competition relies on giving these essential safety devices the attention they deserve.

This article presents the most recent rules regarding frangible devices in competition.

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Weekend Quick Links: March 2-3

Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.

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