FEI Eventing Risk Management Steering Group Holds First Meeting

Photo by Leslie Wylie. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

How can we minimize risk factors in evening? What risk management initiatives need to implemented, on a global basis, to improve horse and rider safety? How can we facilitate improved communication about safety issues?

These are the most important questions facing our sport today, and the time for real answers is now — if not yesterday.

Chaired by David O’Connor, the new FEI Eventing Risk Management Steering Group had its first meeting on Wednesday at the FEI headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. The FEI released this synopsis of the group’s objectives and work accomplished at the initial summit:

The 19 October meeting established the framework for the group’s work, which includes investigating new ways to reduce horse falls, and identifying factors to decrease the number of serious injuries to athletes and horses using research studies from around the world relating to risk management. Other key areas for the group are the evaluation of statistical analysis gathered to date, including athlete qualifications and performance history, and a review of fence design. Safety equipment, the education of athletes and officials, and the roles and responsibilities of officials will also be reviewed.

The group will ensure worldwide communication and sharing of information, with the FEI as the point of contact for research ideas.

The Steering Group will build on the existing extensive work already done on risk management by the FEI Eventing Committee, National Federations and external parties, and will produce a list of recommendations to the FEI Eventing Committee by the end of February 2017. A presentation of the group’s findings will also be made at the FEI Sports Forum in April next year.

“The meeting was a great starting point for the group,” Chair David said. “There are a tremendous amount of questions to be asked and we are all very serious about trying to find answers to those questions. I think it is a good forward step for the FEI, building on the extensive work that has been done over the last 16 years since the Hartington report through to the recent Charles Barnett report and recommendations.

“We all love this sport and acknowledge that it carries inherent risks, but we owe it to everyone in the eventing community to do everything we can to make it as safe as possible for our athletes and for our horses.”

FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said, “The first meeting of the FEI Eventing Risk Management Steering Group this week marks an important point in the acceleration of our efforts on safety. The sport has suffered such terrible losses this year and these affect us all very deeply. The wide-ranging expertise of the members of this group will play a crucial part in our ongoing work to make the sport as safe as possible.”

The Steering Group includes:

David O’Connor (Chair), former FEI Bureau Member and Olympic Eventing champion in Sydney 2000
Mike Etherington-Smith (GBR), international cross country course designer and equestrian consultant
Daisy Berkeley (GBR), FEI Eventing athlete representative and international athlete
Rob Stevenson (CAN), former international Olympic athlete, cardiologist and Canadian National Safety Officer
Geoff Sinclair (AUS), FEI Eventing Technical Delegate and former President of the Australian Equestrian Federation
Staffan Lidbeck (SWE), FEI Veterinarian and Swedish Eventing team coach
Laurent Bousquet (FRA), international Eventing athlete and coach of the Japanese equestrian team
Philine Ganders (GER), FEI Level 3 Eventing Steward and member of the German National Federation

The FEI has made some great strides with regard to studies and data collection, and we support this smart, progressive think tank in its quest to help bridge the gap between research and real-life application.

More details about risk management in eventing research and initiatives can be found on the FEI website here.

[FEI Eventing Risk Management Steering Group Meets in Lausanne (SUI)]