Te percentage of rotational horse falls, with its higher risk of injuries for the horse and rider, has decreased over the 12-year period.

“It definitely does seem like the sport continues to grow globally and that, I think, is a great thing.” “I think the thing is there’s no magic ticket--if you could

do any one thing to make eventing safer today, the only thing I can think of is to fund more access for events to safety devices (special pins and clips installed properly on cross country jumps). I’m talking about worldwide – espe- cially in developing countries that are getting into the sport, where they’re new to eventing,” Jon says, “and they have riders who may not be coached as well and design- ers not used to the safety technology. We need to focus on giving them more access to coaching and course design and stuff like that.” “The new one-star level, which is currently our ‘half-

star,’ is going to help because there will still be national qualifications for that,” Marilyn says. “I think there will be a lot more education in countries where eventing is grow- ing because you will have international officials, not just national officials. The FEI is trying to bring in international coaches as well, to educate officials and coaches, and that will really help. For example French rider Maxime Livio has gone to Thailand about five times a year for the past couple of years and it’s made a tremendous difference in the quality of their riding, and they are developing more competitions. It’s really good for the sport there.” Marilyn also points out that the FEI website offers

educational forums focusing on horsemanship, including topics like the care and feeding of the horses. “The FEI is really trying to improve everything, including horseman- ship, because they think that’s one of the biggest ways to keep the sport safe,” she says. “The national federations have received a survey to describe their coaching systems, and the FEI is definitely focusing more on education. They’re also talking about getting coaches to China, and for example, Karen O’Connor made a dramatic difference going to Mexico for a few years as a coach.” Including international divisions at new events and

events in developing countries also helps regulate the sport. “The reason they have the FEI divisions is to make sure there’s a standardization of courses around the world,” Robert says.

Safer Through Technology? Technology is constantly advancing to improve safety in the sport; officials, organizers and course designers work tire- lessly to educate themselves and make advancements in safety. The numbers in this report show those efforts are paying off, though progress may be slow. Some advances in jump technology are frangible pins and MIM clips, which

Example of a frangible pin being repaired on course by Eric Bull and his crew at Plantation Field in 2015.

break away under the downward pressure of a horse falling on them, and as well as jumps made of breakable materials, which are still being developed. Jon encourages coaches and riders both here and

abroad to educate themselves about new technology for cross country fences. “I’ve always been a curious person, that’s my nature, but if you’re out there risking your neck you should really understand how this stuff works.” Robert says that he is confident that initiatives to

improve safety are working. “A lot of people think it’s been too slow, but deformable (breakable) fences are a seri- ous thing and I’m sure they’re going slowly and cautiously because you don’t want to cause more accidents when you’re trying to make the sport safer,” he continues. “It’s neither practical nor safe to make every fence deform- able and we have to put our trust in the people working to make the sport safer.” He is also encouraged by his own experiences. “I’m on

the organizing committee for the Carolina International Three-Day Event and Jon Holling asked me to get statistics about cross-country, like how many times clips were acti- vated at which jump. There are really smart people work- ing to make the sport safer and he and David O’Connor are two of those. When we went back to look at the statis- tics, it was very encouraging that there were not as many problems as there might have been; there were a lot of jumps that still were pinned. The water was truly tough - the second one was pinned but the first was not because it was a very big log—and there were some falls, but there were some pretty good saves, too.” Improving courses only goes so far; good coaching and riding are also essential components to improving

Warmbloods Today 29

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