The USEA released the following statement on safety in eventing following the death of Conahy’s Courage at Red Hills Horse Trials on Saturday. Kyle Carter penned a touching tribute to Courage at this link. We are printing the statement in full in order to bolster the discussion on safety in the sport. Click here to view the statement on the USEA’s website.
The USEA’s statement:
The USEA and the staff at the Red Hills Horse Trials is deeply saddened by the accident that took the life of Conahy’s Courage owned by Imogen De Lavis and ridden by Canada’s Kyle Carter. The entire Eventing community sends deepest condolences to Imogen and Kyle on the loss of this lovely horse.
The USEA Safety Committee and the USEA’s Cross-Country Course Design and Fence Construction Task Force works continually to review all aspects of this sport, including cross-country course design, with a view to making Eventing as safe as possible for both horses and riders.
Members of these committees will spend the next few weeks investigating every aspect of this incident. This will include interviews with appropriate individuals and an analysis of the design and construction of the obstacle to determine what alterations can be made to reduce the chance of a similar accident in the future.
The accident occurred at the first element of the Hobbit House combination. Horses approach across open terrain to jump a relatively small cabin then canter down the slope and up the other side jumping a similar cabin on the way out. The combination has been on the Advanced/CIC*** course for two years and this is the only serious incident that has occurred at that obstacle.
Nevertheless, even one such incident is one too many. We will make every effort to minimize the chance of this happening in the future. We appreciate the cooperation of the entire staff of Red Hills Horse Trials in this investigation.
As should happen in any such case, this loss leads us to reflect on the sport we love and what we ask of our athletes, both human and equine. We at the USEA all welcome a healthy and open discussion, one based on the facts, not conjecture, and one free of personal attacks and hyperbole.
One fact is beyond dispute: The USEA has been at the forefront of improving safety in Eventing, and has made this issue a particular focus of our efforts over the past 10 years.
There are many ways in which USEA leadership has resulted in improvements in safety, from requiring helmets in all phases of our competitions, to tightening qualification standards, to strengthening the role of officials in monitoring (and, if necessary, intervening to stop) dangerous riding, to researching and supporting frangible technology. A review of many of our safety initiatives can be seen at www.useventing.com/rules-safety/safety.
We can all agree that Eventing is a sport that requires that our horses receive the highest level of care and attention. The USEA continually educates its members on how to improve their riding and the care, conditioning and training they give their horses.
Even though we know it will be virtually impossible to eliminate accidents altogether, the organization will leave no stone unturned as we strive daily to reduce the risk of injury to our horses and riders. The USEA works closely with the USEF to ensure that proposed safety initiatives receive the broadest support.
As we continue to review the incident at Red Hills and work to improve safety in the sport of Eventing, we will continue to invite the input of our members on ways to improve this sport, its safety and the design of cross-country courses. We will ask selected individuals to meet with the committees so we have their first-hand input and suggestions. Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time with your ideas as this process moves forward.