I love university because of the complete freedom of choice on what you write about (within reason ha ha!).
It sounds simple, but when you have a passion for a topic, writing all of a sudden becomes simple. I am not an academic, nor do I really enjoy writing, however, when the topic changes to something I am passionate about, I love it. Maybe this is a philosophy all education bodies should consider?
Any way, in my final year of study, I am studying a Research and Evaluation subject. My final paper is focused on the ways we can reduce the severity of falls in the cross country phase of eventing, especially rotational falls.
The research question relates to Eventing and competitive Ariel Skiing.
“How are extreme sports implementing preventative measures to minimise the risk of head and spinal injuries?”
The results are out and there are some very similar answers, trends and ways of thinking. However, what stuns me is that none of these practises are put into play or are actually relayed to riders around Australia?
- Riders moving up the levels to quickly
- Lack of Rider Fitness
- Lack of Horse Fitness
- Body protection for riders (Air Vests and Body Protectors)
- Cross Country Fences not having any give when a mistake occurs
Riders Moving Up The Levels To Quickly / Lack of Horse Fitness and or training
This trend was a common answer of over half of respondents in the survey. But, it seems in the Pony Club and EA worlds that young riders are pressured socially to be doing the highest levels as soon as they can, to be respected and “followed” as a good rider?
These days riders are not taking the time to excel at techniques, focus on the important things like bonding and getting it all right before moving up the levels. I believe social media pressure in the younger generations are a strong cause of this, and it is putting our young riders at risk of not only physical harm, but also mental stress.
A grading system should be implemented, such as what HRCAV, has implemented. Not as a measure to hold riders back from reaching their goals and not moving forward within the sport, but to measure, control and prevent serious accidents from occurring.
Lack of Rider Fitness
Honestly, think to yourself, how often do I focus an hour of my day towards the health and well being, engaging in physical activity?
Rider Fitness is increasingly becoming one of the largest problems within the equestrian community to date. Why should horses suffer with extra weight when they shouldn’t have to?
Riders need to spend more time on their own strength and conditioning to ensure they are prepared for whatever may come their way at home or in competition.
Strength and conditioning of riders is only a benefit, for riding and for general health and well being. To have a better seat, better hands, stronger lower leg or a good defensive seat in a time of mistake or over jump? All benefits and something ALL riders should consider.
Body Protection for Riders
Majority of responses included the need for body protection to be COMPULSORY throughout the jumping phases. I feel like this one is a no brainer and really shouldn’t need to be convinced?
Cross Country Fences
Another common topic, mentioned in over 90% of responses, was the strength and inflexibility the structures of cross country fences. I think one thing we need to remember, is that for all the years that Eventing has been a sport, the cross country has remained the same. In the early years, severe falls and in particular, rotational falls we somewhat unheard of and not a common occurrence as they are now. This could also be refereed to the lack of social media back in those days. It is all interesting, but the build and inflexibility of these fences is trending towards a major contributor to rotational falls and serve injuries.
The introduction and compulsory use of break away/frangible pin cross country fences is an innovative and very correct turn in the right direction towards a safer sport.