Recently, Eventing Nation posted an article titled, ‘Is This Sport Safe Enough? Breaking Down the Latest Eventing Statistics.’ I believe that this article is very appropriate for all riders to read, whether eventers or not.
The eventing world has seen some hard times in the past couple of months as multiple riders (and horses) have fallen to their deaths out cross country. This cues the debate on all social media whether safety for eventing needs to be increased. This article is well written because it addresses everyone’s concerns in an empirical, logical way.
As a refresher, eventing contains three phases: dressage, stadium jumping, and cross country. Each of these phases are crucial to the overall performance of the pair competing — something that I feel many forget. In the article, an analysis of falls out cross country concluded that there was a correlation in eliminations, faults, and falls cross country and relatively poor performances in dressage. When I read this, it startled me because of the truth behind it. I grew up with many riders never having a solid dressage test with their horse because they only liked to focus on jumping because it was more fun. I believe that this is a huge problem.
While Stevenson makes other points about this situation, the conversation needs to expand on coaching and riding. If riders are proficient in dressage, flat work, the fundamentals of riding and horse behavior, there is a chance that horrific accidents can decrease. Therefore, dressage should be a huge factor in all disciplines. I feel that a rider should understand how to make the horse bend, be supple, and the basics of collection and extension. The problem with flat work is that not a lot of people want to spend time doing something that is ‘boring.’ We should shift the stigma and promote dressage!
Now to say that knowledge in dressage will completely eliminate risk in eventing would be incorrect, but it could severely decrease preventable accidents. Overall, the article stated that fatal falls and other disasters in eventing have decreased over a period of 30 years. With this knowledge, it is great to see how eventing is somewhat improving. There might be more to do, but this discipline is getting where it needs to be!
I am looking forward to seeing where it leads us 🙂