The United States Eventing Association considers the safety of every horse and rider that participates in the sport of eventing to be of the utmost importance and concern. Over the last several years, the sport has made incredible progress towards implementing additional rules and processes to ensure the safety of both human and equine competitors. There is a wealth of information available to both our members and the general public about the committees and programs in place that focus solely on efforts to make the sport safer for both horse and rider.
Increasing awareness and knowledge of safety in eventing involves the education of all the different participants from the horse, rider, and trainer to the officials, course designers, and course builders. The goal of the USEA is to provide as many opportunities as possible for all parties to increase their knowledge and work towards making eventing a safer sport, from the Training Program for Eventing Officials, Instructors’ Certification Program, and Continuing Education Clinics to the many educational material produced by the USEA.
In May of 2017, the USEA Board of Governors approved a restructuring of the USEA Safety and Equine Welfare Committee and Cross-Country Safety Task Force so that the committee as a whole can better focus on specific areas of importance and concern. The USEA Safety and Equine Welfare Committee now consists of three targeted subcommittees: Rider Safety, Equine Safety and Welfare, and Cross-Country Safety. The three subcommittees each focus on their specific area of safety, supporting research and developments in their particular areas.
Currently, the Cross-Country Safety subcommittee is conducting a review of literature and developing guidelines for course designers and builders with regard to ground lines for fences.
Additionally, along with the USEF and FEI, the USEA Cross-Country Safety subcommittee collects data and information on all major accidents for analysis to see if anything can be learned.
Read more news about the USEA Safety and Equine Welfare Committee:
In an effort to clarify and standardize terminology usage within the organization, and as the original study expands to explore additional topics, the USEA Collapsible Fence Technology Study has been rechristened the USEA Frangible Fence Technology Research. The terms “frangible,” “collapsible,” and “deformable” effectively carry the same meaning and can be used interchangeably. The USEA will move forward using the term “frangible” to refer to all types of frangible, collapsible, and deformable cross-country fences, regardless of the specific technology being employed.
The original Collapsible Fence Technology Study being conducted through the University of Kentucky concluded in 2018 and the organization will look to continue research based on their findings. Look for the article summarizing the findings in the May/June issue of Eventing USA.
Read more about USEA Frangible Technology Research:
In 2014, the USEA began assessing each starter at a USEA recognized event $1.00 that is then put toward equine medical research that benefits sport horses and supports both the USEA Cardiopulmonary Research Study as well as other relevant studies.
Read about the studied supported by the Equine Medical Research Fund:
The USEA formed the Cardiopulmonary Research Group in 2008 in response to the troubling occurrence of fatalities among horses competing in eventing in North America. The group focused their efforts on assessing the frequency of inapparent (occult) heart/lung disease in eventing horses, based on the supposition that cardiovascular and/or pulmonary (lung) compromises are the likely causes of sudden death in exercising horses.
Read the updates submitted by the USEA Cardiopulmonary Research Group:
Dr. Koren Ganas of the University of Illinois College of Medicine Department of Health Sciences Education is conducting a survey on helmet use in equestrians across a variety of disciplines. The survey is designed to gather information on riders' attitudes toward wearing helmets.
Click here to learn more Dr. Ganas’ work and to take the survey.
In 2017, the USEA released an online test and certification for eventing safety coordinators. For several years, members of the USEA Safety Committee have been looking for ways to ensure that designated safety coordinators fully understand the responsibilities of the job and the development of the test was an important milestone for the USEA Safety Committee.
Click here for more information on the USEA Safety Coordinator Test.
In 2018, the USEA introduced the EquiRatings Quality Index, or ERQI, for all USEA registered horses. The ERQI is a risk management tool that assigns a value to each USEA competing horse. The ERQI is calculated as a probability, a number between 0 and 1, with horses closer to 1 showing statistically higher levels of positive performance in the cross-country phase. The ERQI is built on the ‘data footprint,’ (past results) of each horse and applies a marginal gains approach to improving fall rates. The ERQI system will allow USEA members to track and monitor risk in a tangible way. By providing every horse, at every level, with an ERQI, riders will have a visual indicator of risk at each specific level.
Read more about the EquiRatings Quality Index:
The LandSafe Rider Fall Safety System is a training program designed to teach the best practices of fall prevention and response. In 2017, Danny and Keli Warrington, the founders of LandSafe, were awarded funds to help bring the system to every USEA area. The grant supplements the cost for LandSafe to travel to all ten Areas and teach the system at USEA Area camps and clinics at a greatly reduced cost for individual attendees. LandSafe provides the USEA with measurable data (before and after program assessments and videos) designed to demonstrate each Area’s progression through the program.
Click here to learn more about LandSafe and view LandSafe’s upcoming clinic dates.
The USEA Instructors’ Certification Program was founded in 2002 to educate all levels of eventing instructors to confirm their knowledge base, both theoretical and practical, upon which they will continue to build throughout their teaching lifetime. By educating our instructors about safety, we help educate our riders and horses as well.
Here are some additional resources that demonstrate the USEA’s continued dedication to increasing the safety of eventing:
You can find additional information about the different safety efforts and research studies on the Safety page and Research Studies page of the USEA website. Or, you can explore even more article relating to safety, research, and rules on the USEA Website. Just click on one of the tags below to see all articles relating to that content:
If you are interested in making a donation to support the USEA and its safety research efforts, please visit the USEA Foundation website.
Questions or comments about the USEA’s efforts to improve safety for horse and rider in the sport of eventing? Please reach out to CEO Rob Burk directly at [email protected] or (703) 779-9895.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.
The 2012 and 2016 individual Olympic champion, Germany’s Michael Jung, blazed into first place after dressage at the Tokyo 2020 Games with a superb test on Chipmunk.
Deservedly scoring 21.1 - a record for both rider and his country at an Olympics, according to EquiRatings - it was a joy to watch. From the first extended trot, the pair looked secure, positive, and harmonious. The test was as accurate and as well-delivered as that of long-time leaders Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class (GBR), but with more expression and ease. Jung and the Contendro 13-year-old demonstrated all this specially-written, short Olympic test asks for and each movement flowed into the next.