Safety Initiatives to Improve the Safety of Rider & Horse on the Eventing Course
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Safety Developments on Course


From reverse pinning to research fences which collect Cross Country data, British Eventing has been at the forefront of efforts to continually improve the safety of both horse and rider.


Frangible Pins

Frangible Pins are now an integral part of fence safety around the world and have been proved to reduce the incidence of rotational falls, potentially saving lives. Frangible pins ensure the cross country fence rail drops, which is safer for both horse and rider



An Incident report form applying to all falls of horse and/or rider was developed and piloted during the 2000/2001 season.  The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) also conducted film analysis of 100 accidents including 75 cross country fences and 25 show jumping fences.

It was found that the potential for a crushing injury was related to the rotating motion and landing angle of the horse. A landing angle of more than 90 degrees was considered to provide a significant risk of crushing injury to the rider. This happened when the horse hit a fixed obstacle between its knee and elbow. Below this the horse was able to scrabble over – but above this and the horse stayed behind the fence with the rider staying seated or ejected over the fence.

A mathematical model was developed and a full-scale crash test horse was used to simulate the load conditions between a horse and fence. Based on the results of the test programme, TRL established that if the rail anchorage were designed to break at a controlled load to ensure that the rail would fall, this would remove the vertical load between the horse and the fence.

TRL therefore designed a breakable pin with the precise failure strength which allowed the rail to drop thereby stopping the horse from rotating or somersaulting. This means the horse can hit the rail fairly hard without the fence collapsing and still keep its feet, but if the critical load is reached, the pin would fail with the potential of minimising risk of injury to both horse and rider.


Adoption into Eventing

A small team of BE cross-country course builders & designers looked at the practicalities of the proposed system and how to implement it into the sport. Having tested the system the pins were trialed at BE and FEI events throughout the 2002 season at 13 BE events from BE100 to Advanced and at 14 FEI events across three continents including Badminton, Burghley, WEG, Adelaide, Boekolo and Fairhill.

Video and eye-witness accounts confirmed that the system is robust with fences installed with the pins having been hit in many ways at all events. Pins broke twice and on both occasions, serious injury to both horse and rider was averted.  At Boekolo CCI3* 2002, a tired horse failed to make the back rail of a parallel. Both pins broke and both horse and rider escaped unharmed from an incident that eye-witness accounts suggested would have resulted in significant injury had the pins not been in use.

These two situations show that the system has already been proven to contribute towards rider safety by reducing the chance of ‘rotational' and other potentially dangerous falls in certain circumstances.


Reverse Pinning

ADHQ (formerly Competitive Measure), during their pin testing at Bristol University, found that there could be some merit in looking at having a pinned rail behind the post rather than in front as is traditionally done.

Following further testing it was established that in certain situations this reverse pinning could have added benefits. Testing showed that for the pin to work consistently and to not fall too easily, a method, other than that of traditional roping, needed to be developed.

ADHQ have come up with a solution which consists of a stainless steel wire which is tightened up to a set tension with a torque wrench. This enables us to guarantee that the pin does not fail too easily.



·         Result of significant scientific research and testing

·         Maintains integrity of the cross country phase

·         Easy to install

·         Easy to replace pins following activation (approx 1-2 minutes)

·         Affordable (currently a pair of sleeves and a pair of pins cost £55)


For further information about obtaining frangible pins and sleeves, please click here to visit the Equine Fitness site.


2008 Goodyear Safety Research Fence

The 2008 BE Goodyear Safety Research fence, an ascending spread fence, collected data from 19 days of cross country jumping, and recorded 660 impacts. Data from these impacts is already being used by BE. Engineers from the University of Bristol and Kentucky University in the USA are now looking at developing new safety systems.


New Generation Safety Research Fence

The new generation BE Safety Research fence, went out and about at various venues throughout the UK. This square-type oxer was used at Intermediate level and above. The sensors, located under both rails, measure horizontal and vertical force. The sensors record 10,000 times each second and were sensitive to taps of less than 10kg to a full impact of up to 5 tonnes.


The Data from the Fence

The British Eventing safety research fence records horse speed, rotation & duration of impact. Force data was synchronised with a high-speed video up to 250 frames per second generating a detailed picture of a collision. The data was analysed to give details of speed, rotation and duration of impact. This comprehensive data enables course builders and designers to improve the safety of different types of cross-country fences.

The project culminated with a peer-reviewed paper, which is currently the only piece of research into this subject world wide.