Safety On The Course

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After meeting all weekend here in Lexington, some of the country's top equestrian officials have come up with new safety measures designed to protect riders and horses during three-day events.

This comes after a string of accidents, including one in April at the Rolex-Three Day Event. In that incident, rider Laine Ashker was critically injured after her horse fell.

Top equestrian officials say they don't want to change the sport; they just want to make it safer and prevent as many accidents as possible.

"What we're doing is making sure that as we go forward that we are keeping it as safe as possible for people at every level," Kevin Baumgardner said.

In order to ensure that, President of the US Eventing Association says they are examining every aspect of three day eventing from course design to the role of ensure all are as safe as possible.

"Our goal of minimizing horse falls and of maximizing horse and rider safety is something that is job #1 for everyone in the eventing community," he said.

The safety summit comes after several accidents within the past year and a half that took the life of about a dozen horse riders and several horses. One of those tragic stories unfolded here at the Rolex-Three Day Event, in which rider Laine Ashker and her horse flipped and fell causing her serious injuries. Her horse had to be put down.

Baumgardner says that although accidents are rare, they have most recently taken place during the cross country course and therefore, they are focusing on enforcing the use of yellow and red flag on-course warnings.

"It happened 2/10ths of 1% of all starts in our sport, but still its something we need to look at. To make sure we minimize to the max extent possible, we will focus on education, course design with officials control of the riders," he said.

Researchers are also examining cross country speeds and the types and spacing of jumps.

Officials also plan to implement a watch list, which lets anyone report dangerous riders.

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