Frangible fences: the call grows louder
‘The time is now’ for rules to make the safety devices mandatory on all suitable fences, international bodies agree
SUPPORT is mounting for the United States Eventing Association’s (USEA) calls for frangible technology to be compulsory at FEI events.
USEA’s cross-country safety sub-committee has “strongly recommended” the FEI rules that all open rail fences, gates, oxers and oxer corners must be built using reverse frangible technology.
“The time has come to take a stronger stance on the use of frangible technology,” a USEA spokesman said. “We as leaders of the sport have the moral obligation to say that the time for use of all available safety technology is now.”
Officials Club chairman Andy Griffiths echoed the call.
“If we can reduce the risk of rotational falls then surely we should be doing it,” he told H&H.
“This has been our stance for the past 10 years. The FEI keeps saying it’s only part [of the safety issue] but rotational falls are what causes deaths. Mistakes can happen to anybody so it’s common sense [to use frangibles], it’s like wearing a seatbelt.”
Badminton Horse Trials released a statement (25 October) also backing the call.
“At Badminton we have always been very supportive of the development of frangible technology,” it said. “We have
used this technology to reduce the risks to horses and riders, while acknowledging that acceptable risk is an integral part of eventing and it will never be possible, or indeed desirable, to make the sport completely ‘safe’.
“The time has come for the FEI to make suitable frangible technology compulsory in respect of the types of fences susceptible to its introduction, rather than simply recommended.”
USING ALL TOOLS
CANADIAN eventing committee chairman Peter Gray said “all tools at our disposal” should be used to reduce risk.
“There are still too many serious accidents in the sport that I would err on the side of caution and require frangibles,” he said.
Former course-designer David Morton also told H&H he would like to see frangible devices used more widely (news, 19 October).
“I think the FEI needs to give technical delegates the tools to implement its recommendations,” he said. “It’s not a rule so they can’t enforce the issue.”
Chrs Farr, British Eventing (BE) sport operations manager, said BE “fully supports” the call.
In 2006 BE made frangible pins mandatory in all eligible fences at all levels of competition.
“In the lead-up to this, three key lessons learnt were the need for an education programme for officials, course-builders and course-designers; a phased implementation; and to make provision of frangible devices free to all events in this country, a cost borne by BE,” said Mr Barr. “The removal of the cost barrier has greatly helped their wider use.
“Frangible technology is an essential part of mitigating the risk on the cross-country phase. However we must all look to the wider landscape of risk management as well, such as suitable standards for body protectors and hats, not only regionally, but worldwide.”
The FEI reiterated a statement given to H&H on 19 October.
“The global use of frangible technology is one of our risk management goals, and the FEI is working with national federations on implementing the technology,” a spokesman said. “Eventing takes place at international level in around 40 countries, with many more hosting national events and not all these countries have the resources and knowledge to support correct implementation of frangible technology.
“It is the FEI’s role to provide educational and logistical support to national federations to enable them to source approved devices, ensure correct use and decide when the time is right to make use compulsory so the technology is used effectively worldwide.
“It is important to note that frangible devices are one element in a wide risk management spectrum and, while clearly important, they will not eliminate all risk from the sport.”
Eventing bodies from across the world are calling for change