We have looked closer at some of the issues with the incidents here in the U.S. as well as abroad. It's obvious that eventing as a whole has problems. It's not a U.S. problem, it's not a Europe problem, it's not an Australia problem, it's an Eventing problem.
Just the other week the GoFundMe for Frangible Fences was up to $87,000 with the Manton Foundation now stepping in to match donations up to $250,000. Now, there is a call for eventers to donate the amount of an entry to the fund. Also, still crickets from the billionaire that could single handedly fund every xc fence with frangible technology. The billionaire that will pay for Bloody Mary's shenanigans, sponsor entire events, and provide tens of thousands in division winning prize money. But nothing to support the safety of life saving measures? Actions speak louder than words.
This whole global pandemic thing happened right after the latest aftershock from the last death of a horse and rider at an event this past February. It has distracted the majority of the eventing community away from it again. Donations will continue to trickle in, but no actual, human, accountability will be demanded, until the next death.
I would sincerely hope that this down time caused by the pandemic was being used wisely by the powers that be at U.S. Eventing to allow for some positive, noticeable, action to be put in motion in the sport when it comes to deaths. However, I'm definitely not holding my breath. Why?
Did any of you know there are actual scholarly papers published on the safety of eventing?
The British Journal of Sports Medicine published an article called "Rider injury rates and emergency medical services at equestrian events" back in 1999. Here is the abstract:
Abstract Background—Horse riding is a hazardous pastime, with a number of studies documenting high rates of injury and death among horse riders in general. This study focuses on the injury experience of cross country event riders, a high risk subset of horse riders. Method—Injury data were collected at a series of 35 equestrian events in South Australia from 1990 to 1998. Results—Injury rates were found to be especially high among event riders, with frequent falls, injuries, and even deaths. The highest injury rates were among the riders competing at the highest levels. Conclusion—There is a need for skilled emergency medical services at equestrian events.
Here is the link to the full article: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/33/1/46.full.pdf
1999 people. 20 PLUS years ago. And here we are still losing horses and riders on a regular basis, more than any other equestrian sport.
In 2003, the Equine Veterinary Journal published article called "A retrospective case-control study of horse falls in the sport of horse trials and three day eventing." Here is the abstract:
REASONS FOR PERFORMING STUDY:
Serious injuries to horses and riders in horse trials (HT) and three-day events (3DE) are usually associated with falls of horses, which invariably involve falls of the riders. Many potential causes for these falls have been discussed.
The aim of this case-control study was to investigate the risk factors for horse falls on the cross-country phase of horse trials and three-day events.
Using retrospective data, significant risk factors identified with unvariable analysis (P value <0.2) were entered into a multivariable logistic regression model. Significant risk factors (P value <0.05) were included in the final model.
It was revealed that a number of course, obstacle and rider variables were significantly and independently associated with the risk of falling. Falling was associated with obstacles sited downhill (Odds ratio [OR] 8.41) and with obstacles with ditches in front (OR = 5.77).
The relationship between course variables and the risk of falling was characterised and showed a significantly increased risk with increasing numbers of jumps on the course and for jumping efforts later in the course. In contrast, after allowing for the total number of obstacles on the course, an increase in the total number of jumping efforts appeared to have a protective effect. A later cross-country start time was associated with a decreased risk of a horse fall. Amateur event riders were approximately 20 times more likely to fall than professional riders.
POTENTIAL CLINICAL RELEVANCE:
This study has identified a number of risk factors associated with horse falls and highlights areas that can be altered to improve safety in cross-country competitions.Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12638789
Another published again in the Equine Veterinary Journal in 2006 called "The risk of horse-and-rider partnership falling on the cross country phase of eventing competitions." Here is the abstract:
REASONS FOR PERFORMING STUDY:
Fatalities resulting from horse falls occurring during the cross-country phase of eventing competitions initiated epidemiological investigation of the risk factors associated with horse falls.
To identify variables that increased or decreased the risk of a horse fall during the cross-country phase of an eventing competition.
Data were collected from randomly selected British Eventing competitions held in Great Britain during 2001 and 2002. Data were obtained for 173 cases (jumping efforts resulting in a fall of the horse-and-rider partnership) and 503 matched controls (jumping efforts not resulting in a fall). The risk of falling was modelled using conditional logistic regression.
An increased risk of a horse fall was associated with jumping into or out of water; taking off from good-to-soft, soft or heavy ground; fences with a drop landing; nonangled fences with a spread > or =2 m; and angled fences. Other risk factors included riders who knew that they were in the lead within the competition before the cross-country phase; an inappropriate speed of approach to the fence (too fast or too slow); horse-and-rider partnerships that had not incurred refusals at earlier fences; and riders who received cross-country tuition.
This study has identified modifiable course- and fence-level risk factors for horse falls during the cross-country phase of eventing competitions. The risk of horse and rider injury at eventing competitions should be reduced by 3 simple measures; maintaining good to firm take-off surfaces at fences, reducing the base spread of fences to <2 m and reducing the use of fences at which horses are required to jump into or out of water. Risk reduction arising from course and fence modification needs to be confirmed by intervention studies.
Knowledge of factors that increase or decrease the risk of a horse fall can be used by UK governing bodies of the sport to reduce the risk of horse falls on the cross-country phase of eventing competitions, and reduce the risk of horse and rider injuries and fatalities. As one in 3 horses that fall injure themselves and one in 100 horse falls results in fatality to the horse, we suggest that immediate consideration is given to these recommendations.
In 2016 the journal Animals, an international peer-reviewed open access journal devoted entirely to animals, including zoology and veterinary sciences, published monthly. This article is titled "Look Before You Leap: What Are the Obstacles to Risk Calculation in the Equestrian Sport of Eventing?" Here is the abstract:
All horse-riding is risky. In competitive horse sports, eventing is considered the riskiest, and is often characterised as very dangerous. But based on what data? There has been considerable research on the risks and unwanted outcomes of horse-riding in general, and on particular subsets of horse-riding such as eventing. However, there can be problems in accessing accurate, comprehensive and comparable data on such outcomes, and in using different calculation methods which cannot compare like with like. This paper critically examines a number of risk calculation methods used in estimating risk for riders in eventing, including one method which calculates risk based on hours spent in the activity and in one case concludes that eventing is more dangerous than motorcycle racing. This paper argues that the primary locus of risk for both riders and horses is the jump itself, and the action of the horse jumping. The paper proposes that risk calculation in eventing should therefore concentrate primarily on this locus, and suggests that eventing is unlikely to be more dangerous than motorcycle racing. The paper proposes avenues for further research to reduce the likelihood and consequences of rider and horse falls at jumps.
You want to see some examples of freak accidents? Here, have at it: