United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) President Diane Pitts has announced the formation of a new task force related to the safety of the horse and rider while on cross-country. Its mission is to “explore cross-country obstacle construction and design safety.”
In her announcement of the appointments to the task force, Ms. Pitts stated, “I believe all of us share in the belief that one of the USEA’s primary concerns should always be the improvement of safety in our sport. This Task Force will be looking at a lot of design questions. Our lives change daily because of improvements in technology. If there are design improvements, like the frangible pin, that can add to the safety of our horses and riders on XC then they should be constantly explored.” The USEA, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) and the sport as a whole have made tremendous strides in the past two decades to address the safety of both horses and riders. Some of those advancements include:
- Elimination after one fall on cross-country at the Training level and above.
- Increased requirements for qualification to compete at each level.
- Loss of qualifications for horses and riders with falls on cross country under a number of conditions.
- Clarified and solidified penalties and procedures for identifying dangerous riding.
- The introduction of frangible technology.
- Mandatory records of all falls at registered events, which must be submitted to the governing bodies of the sport.
- Safety studies and research have been funded and implemented.
- Studies have been conducted to determine the optimal range of speeds for horses on cross country.
- Penalties have been put in place for excessive speeds while on course, and incentives have been established for riding at the optimal speed.
- International rule revisions have been enacted to better protect the safety of horses and riders.
- The wearing of the highest standards in helmets and safety vests is both required at competition and encouraged when riding in non-competitive situations.
- A dedicated position of Safety Coordinator, with no other duties other than monitoring the safety of competitors, is required at recognized events.
“While much has been done to better protect our horses and riders, the USEA is unwilling to be complacent,” said USEA CEO Jo Whitehouse. “We must do all that we can to make this sport as safe as possible, and this task force is yet another step toward that continued goal.”
Members of the task force will include:
- Sarah Broussard – Co-Chair of the Task Force, and USEA Vice President of Safety. In addition to growing up competing in the sport, Sarah is a Paramedic and EMT from Kalispell, Montana where she organizes the highly-acclaimed Event at Rebecca Farm.
- Jonathan Holling – Co-Chair of the Task Force, and USEA Vice President of Active Athletes. Jonathan is a well-known and respected CCI**** level rider and trainer, and was a member of the 2012 Nations Cup team at Boekelo.
- Doug Payne – Doug holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology and has extensive competition experience through the CCI**** level of Eventing, Grand Prix Show Jumping as well as Intermediare Dressage. Doug holds both USEF Judges and TD’s licenses for Eventing, and is a USEA certified level III instructor.
- Lesley Grant Law – A CCI**** rider originally from Canada, Lesley holds an honours degree in International Relations and Philosophy and a Masters degree in Human Rights from York University. As an upper level rider, the wife of an upper level rider, and the mother of, hopefully, a future upper level rider, Lesley has a profound interest is seeing the sport of eventing advance the safety and well-being of its competitors and horses.
- Jay Hambly – In addition to being an Advanced-level eventer, Jay is also an FEI “C” International cross-country Course Designer and International cross-country Course Builder.
- Malcolm Hook – Active in the sport of eventing for over 30 years, Malcolm is a member of the USEF Eventing Technical Committee and former Chair, an FEI Eventing Chief Steward and U.S. Equestrian Federation R-rated TD. He is the announcer and/or controller for about 20 competitions in the western United States each year.
- Kathleen Becker, DVM, MEng – A veterinarian, engineer and President of Häst PSC, a company specializing in the development and distribution of large animal rescue equipment. Kathleen is the creator of the Becker Sling and brings a unique perspective on the mechanics of the horse, coupled with engineering expertise, to the Task Force.
- Tremaine Cooper – An upper level event rider, FEI cross-country Course Designer for eventing, and a USEF ‘R’ Course Designer, Tremaine has a broad base of technical experience to add to the Task Force. Tremaine is one of the three U.S. Course Advisors.
The task force will work directly with USEA CEO Jo Whitehouse, and will be advised by U.S. Team Chef d’ Equipe David O’Connor.
Members of the USEA are encouraged to contact the task force chairs with constructive suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org with the email subject of “Course Design.”