Tables – involved in more fatal cross-country falls than any other fence-type – are being excluded from mandatory safety “pinning” in FEI events from 2020 because the technology does not function “sufficiently well.”
A table-specific device by Swedish manufacturer MIMsafe NewEra met the FEI technical specification in 2017 and has been in widespread use around the world since then. But despite this the FEI has decided the table-specific frangible device needs further monitoring.
Pro-frangible campaigners were delighted when the FEI recently announced mandatory “pinning” of certain fence-types at the new 4* and 5* level and championships from January 1, 2020, with roll out at lower levels from 2021, subject to approval by the FEI General Assembly in November.
Devices must be fitted on “open oxers, verticals or near-verticals with open rails, top rails on triple bars and gates where the rail dimensions and weight fit the relevant parameters for frangible devices.”
No explanation was given for the omission of tables in consultation documents sent to national federations on July 8th.
When asked by Horse-Canada.com, a FEI spokesman initially stated that “not all fences are suitable for frangible devices such as the pin system and the MIM system, and this includes tables.” Asked to clarify, the spokesman added: “There is an approved frangible device for tables, and the Risk Management Steering Group (RMSG) is of the view that there is still not enough evidence that the device functions sufficiently well for mandatory implementation at this stage.”
For now there will a requirement for all square spread fences to have a rounded or sloping leading edge.
To date, the FEI had strongly recommended use of devices but allowed national federations to make their own decisions about enforcement.
A FEI spokesman said no particular incident led to this landmark rule-change.
“The RMSG has gone through a worldwide consultation process with national federations and organising committees in order to understand the challenges faced with all frangible and deformable systems before they could put forward a proposal to mandate the compulsory use of frangible devices globally.”
The spokesman added: “Risk management is a much wider subject than just frangible devices and must include in parallel other aspects of cross-country fences. All these factors are open for review and adjustment at all times.”
The FEI introduced technical specifications for frangible devices in 2013. Only those on its “approved” list may be used. Just two suppliers have achieved this: the BE pin, developed by British Eventing from a prototype first used at Badminton; and MIM, which has historic expertise in making safety equipment for the motor industry. MIM has developed a similar device to the BE pin plus other bespoke fittings for tables, “skinnies,” corners, walls, gates and oxers.