May 14, 2019

Safety In Eventing: How Far We’ve Come

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

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.

The USEA Safety and Equine Welfare Committee

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:

USEA Frangible Technology Research

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.

USEA Photo.

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:

USEA Equine Medical Research Fund

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:

USEA Cardiopulmonary Research Study

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.

USEA Photo.

Read the updates submitted by the USEA Cardiopulmonary Research Group:

Equestrian Helmet Use Survey

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.

Safety Coordinator Certification

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.

EquiRatings Quality Index (ERQI)

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:

LandSafe Clinics

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.

Photo courtesy of LandSafe.

Click here to learn more about LandSafe and view LandSafe’s upcoming clinic dates.

Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP)

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.

Oct 22, 2021 USEA Foundation

Holekamp/Turner Grant Recipient, MBF Cooley Permission to Land, Completes Dressage at Mondial du Lion

Young horses from all over the world have flocked to Le Lion d'Angers, France for the Mondial du Lion young horse championships, including this year's Holekamp/Turner Grant and The Dutta Corp. Prize recipients Cole Horn and MBF Cooley Permission to Land (Cobra x Deeply Dippy K). Horn and the 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding bred by Knightfield Stud are representing the U.S. in the 2021 FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in the 7-year-old CCIYH3*-L Championship.

Oct 22, 2021 Young Event Horse

The YEH Yearbook: Class of 2014

With 24 USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program competitions on the 2014 calendar, young event horses all across the country had the opportunity to shine and qualify for the 2014 USEA YEH Championships. The YEH West Coast Championships were held at Galway Downs in Temecula, California, while the YEH East Coast Championships took place at Fair Hill International in Elkton, Maryland. Following 2014’s YEH finale, many of the graduating class of the 2014 USEA Young Event Horse Championships have gone on to make their mark on the upper levels of eventing.

Oct 21, 2021 Eventing News

One-Week Bid Process Now Open for Week 19 CCI4*-L in 2022 on East Coast

Following the cancellation of the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event for 2022, US Equestrian will open a one-week bid process to fill the date on the 2022 U.S. Eventing Calendar. Per the 2022 U.S. FEI Eventing Calendar Policies and Procedures, applications to host the CCI4*-L level during the 2022 competition season are accepted by invitation only.

Oct 21, 2021 Competitions

Fast Facts: The Event at TerraNova

The addition of a new event to the competition calendar is always exciting, but the Event at TerraNova in Myakka City, Florida aims to really wow their first-time competitors at their inaugural event with top-notch competition facilities, stunning course design, exceptional amenities, and a horse show experience unlike any other. With a roster of 142 entries altogether from Starter to the in their CCI4*-S level, the Event at TerraNova is off to a great start!

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