An Upward Tick

FEI’s Latest Eventing Statistics Show Positive Trends – and Challenges

The sport of eventing has dramatically increased in popularity over the last twelve years. And with that growth, the sport continues to wrestle with its safety issues. A new report on eventing risk management released by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) ahead of the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland looks at both.

titions growing 70 percent over those 12 years, exclud- ing pony competitions. The report also details falls and injuries in a sport well known for its high level of risk, and points to areas that may need improvement. Eventing has become increasingly popular at the FEI


or international levels, and has expanded to new nations. The total number of starters over the years has increased 51 percent, with an average of 30 starters per competi- tion, with most of the starters at the short-format, one-star level. The dramatic increase in participation at the one-star

level may be partly due to both changed qualifications and more competitors in general. For amateurs who may never want to compete at events like Kentucky or Badmin- ton, the one-star is an achievable goal of competing at an international level. Olympic dressage judge Marilyn Payne of Oldwick, New Jersey applauds the sport’s growth. “There are more people doing one-stars and either way, it’s great that they can do that, because the lower level riders are the back- bone of the sport; it’s good to give them a one-star to have as their goal,” she says. US Eventing Team selector Robert Costello of South-

ern Pines, North Carolina agrees the revamped qualifica- tion rules may account for increased participation at the one-star level. “With the new qualification system and the steps you have to go to at the FEI levels, it’s really kind of pouring people into those levels,” he says. “So really, more preliminary level riders are having to go through the

All photos by Amber Heintzberger

he report covers one-star to four-star competi- tions from 2006 to 2017 and shows huge partici- pation growth, with the total number of compe-

By Amber Heintzberger

one-star level to progress. But I truly believe that the sport is still growing and whether you love or hate the short versus long format, at the end of the day, people do want to compete in the FEI levels.”

Horse and Rider Falls Eventing is widely recognized as a high-risk sport, but the study puts some concrete numbers on paper. It becomes apparent that falls are much more likely at the four-star level with 13.25 percent of its starters (or about one in every eight) sustaining a fall. The percentage of falls to starts in one-star to three-star competition ranges from 5.47 percent to 7.72 percent. Over the years, (as participation has increased) the

overall number of falls in FEI competitions has shown an upward trend, though falls at fences during the same period have generally

A rotational fall occurs when the horse hits the jump and flips over, with the jump acting as a pivot point. When a horse is galloping at speed and rotates over a fence there is little chance for the rider to get out of the way. Injuries to both horse and rider may be severe or fatal. One of the main goals of collapsible fences is to reduce the incidence of rotational falls. This is Tim Price (New Zealand) and his horse who almost experienced a full rotational fall at Aachen, Germany last year. Fortunately the pair walked away with no injury.

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