This study will concentrate on how efficiently a horse’s cardiovascular and pulmonary systems function when galloping and jumping across country, and will be seeking answers to such questions as: Are our horses hearts working harder now than in the past? Does the short format increase pressures in the lung vessels?
We are also delighted to report that Professional's Choice, a leader in equine leg care and sports medicine products, is lending its full support to this important study. Michele Scott, Vice President of Professional's Choice Sports Medicine Products, Inc., has long been interested in the study and the welfare of event horses is of paramount importance to her and her company.
The USEA has committed to making a grant to the USEF to cover the first phase of the study into frangible fence technology being conducted by the University of Kentucky College of Engineering. Eric Grulke, Suzanne Weaver Smith, Katie Kahmann, Michelle Tucker, Ben Matar and John Greenwell are members of the University of Kentucky Engineering Team who will conduct the study which will cover the evaluation of jump designs for improved horse and rider safety with a focus on in-field mechanical testing, analysis and design, materials evaluation and construction cost estimation divided into the following tasks.
1. Field Testing of Prototype Breakaway Safety Features
This task will provide immediate results for a hinged gate concept to demonstrate the process and value of the overall project, including the presentation of results. Throughout the project, field testing will be conducted to demonstrate and verify safety features of new concepts and designs. Standard video, high-speed video, and/or motion tracking of horse/rider dynamics at local events will also be conducted in order to support design and verification efforts.
2. Design and Analysis of New Concepts
New concepts such as the strap-and-snap breakaway concept and fundamental questions such as the effect of deformable or sliding/breakaway contact points, develop designs, perform Monte Carlo, and finite-element analyses to evaluate performance.
3. Materials Evaluation
Laboratory and field testing of materials contributing to design and evaluation of concepts constructed with standard materials, foam (Prolog), and other novel materials will be undertaken. Standard testing methods will be used where applicable, but it is anticipated that novel materials may require non-standard testing approaches.
The USEA believes that this is one of the most important projects needing support as it speaks to one of our key guiding principles: the welfare of both horse and rider. “We are working on all types of frangible technology and while it may not prevent a fall, we hope it will minimize the effects of one,” said David O’Connor. “The U.S. has the second largest number of starters in the world and we have long wanted to form a bigger partnership with other countries doing similar studies. It is exciting that the researchers from Britain’s Bristol University, who have been working on these studies for a few years, and researchers from our own University of Kentucky are now able to bounce ideas back and forth about frangible technology as we all work to improve safety.”
The USEA is privileged to announce that upon hearing of this major study, Tom Spalding of SpaldingLabs, the Fly Predator® folks, immediately agreed to make his company the founding corporate donor. “I hope that others will see the immense value in a study such as this and join me in helping the USEA secure the financial support needed to get the job done,” said Spalding. “Eventing is a truly exciting sport and both horses and riders are amazing athletes. They deserve our best efforts to ensure the courses over which they compete are to the highest safety standard possible. This work should lead to a new generation of still challenging, yet much safer, fences that will benefit eventers and their horses for years to come.”
This study has been completed!
Spearheaded by former international event rider John Staples and Dr. Reed Ayers, an upper level event rider and a Research Assistant Professor at the Colorado School of Mines (Department of Metallurgical and Materials Science), this study aims to monitor horses and riders on the cross-country course to determine the speeds at which the courses are being negotiated using state-of-the-art satellite navigation systems and GPS watches.