Lively discussions, presentations, and proposals provided a vibrant atmosphere at the FEI Eventing Forum & National Safety Officers Seminar 2023 hosted by the French Equestrian Federation (FFE), which concluded at Haras de Jardy (FRA) today.
A number of significant topics were discussed and, where appropriate, voted upon, including risk management, social license and cross-country flag rules. Break-out groups focussed on other topics to discover solutions and ideas which were later presented to the entire delegation.
Of the three days, the first was dedicated to discussions around Risk Management statistics and trends based on comprehensive data collected since 2004, and also highlighting 2022 had recorded the lowest number of rotational falls at FEI level since reporting had started.
Social License and Media Training were the first topics to be tackled following the visit to Versailles, followed by a discussion on sanctions to help improve safety and the future development of 5* events with detailed feedback from the Organisers of Badminton, Burghley, Lexington and Pau.
Among the breakthroughs from the weekend, a proposal made by Sweden’s Staffan Lidbeck regarding cross-country flag rules and the addition of penalties for displacing a flag was met with overwhelming support.
Lidbeck referred to the system currently used at national level in Sweden, where at present, the rule is zero penalties for jumping clear through the flags, 7 penalties when a flag loses its upper attachment, and 20 penalties for a run-out or when a horse jumps the fence with no part of the hind end going through the flag. A show of hands confirmed the majority of the delegates agreed to the concept, with the consensus that further discussion needed to take place regarding the proposed number of penalties to be applied.
Talking about the effect of the new rule on the sport in Sweden, Lidbeck’s fellow-countryman and leading Eventing Technical Delegate and Course Designer Lars Christensson said, “I think it has made riders respect fences more, and they ride more correctly. We will be going the right way if we introduce this in the sport”.
The delegates also discussed standards for cross-country courses; the potential to make safety stirrups mandatory; as well as the use of the Horse Form Index within the community. Throughout the Forum, the delegates were also presented a number of technology and design related innovations to increase safety from enhanced biometric data to boot design.
A total of 108 delegates from 24 National Federations (NF) attended, and once again the Forum was moderated by decorated American Olympian, FEI Board Member, Chair of the FEI Eventing Committee and USEF Chief of Sport David O’Connor, alongside Geoff Sinclair, Chair of the FEI Eventing Risk Management Steering Group (RMSG).
The busy three-day programme was preceded by a one-day course led by frangible device MIM’s founder Mats Björnetun and course builder James Willis on Thursday, 19 January, which 72 NF representatives attended. This included the latest technology updates on the fitting of frangible devices correctly and advice on adapting currently-used devices to the new standard.
Video recordings from the 2023 Forum and Seminar will be available here in the coming days, and a fully detailed report will be published within the next fortnight.
For more details on the FEI Eventing Risk Management Policy, Action Plan, Seminars, Statistics, the Horse Form Index, National Safety Officers and other related topics, click here.