The FEI has extended its highly successful global equine injuries research partnership with the University of Glasgow for another two years through to 2019, to further develop the Global Endurance Injuries Study (GEIS). The extension will maximise the impact of the GEIS across Endurance and also look at the potential development of similar methodology for other FEI disciplines.
Led by Professor Tim Parkin and Dr Euan Bennet from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Glasgow, the GEIS was set up in 2015 and is one of the largest studies of its kind. The initial aim of the study was to provide evidence-based information for regulatory changes to Endurance rides focussed on minimising the risk of equine injury.
Findings of the Endurance study to date were presented at the FEI Sports Forum 2017 and this year’s Endurance Forum, with the clear message that speed and insufficient rest periods are key risk factors, highlighting that an increase of seven days on the mandatory rest periods established in 2014 could potentially prevent up to 10% of the failed-to-qualify statistics.
This scientific insight has provided a crucial basis for proposed changes to the FEI Endurance Rules, which will be presented and voted on at the FEI General Assembly this Tuesday 21 November.
The extension of the study will look at the development of predictive models categorising the highest (and lowest) risk horse starts included in the FEI’s Endurance database. Predictive models look at the modelling of populations as a whole with potential application to event management, exploring the high-level science behind the impacts of changes in weather, terrain, speeds and other factors. The study will also seek to develop a risk calculator for use by veterinary delegates to risk-assess all horses before and during rides, utilising this scientific knowledge and learning.
Looking towards the future, the Glasgow team will establish the potential use and analysis of data processed by this methodology in other FEI disciplines, starting with Eventing. In collaboration with the FEI, Professor Parkin and Dr Bennet will look at data-gathering protocols and prepare for the early analysis of data when it becomes available by adapting code and analyses for discipline-specific risk factors and outcomes. Data collection parameters will be developed for injury recording both during and after events.
Dr Euan Bennet said: “We are very pleased to be able to extend this important work further. Initial findings have demonstrated the huge potential of using the data scientifically to inform and influence decisions and we are genuinely optimistic that this important collaboration with the FEI will have a significant positive impact on equine welfare”.
FEI Veterinary Director Göran Akerström commented: “Since the GEIS was commissioned in 2015 the results have shown the importance of the work. Scientific research is a crucial element of horse welfare and something that the FEI is very invested in across several projects, so we’re proud to announce the extension of this collaboration and the exploration of its application to other FEI disciplines.
“Using this kind of scientific evidence for the management of the sport, and the development of rules and regulations is an important ongoing development, which can only benefit the welfare of the horse and our understanding of injury reduction. A crucial element in this process is the invaluable reporting of data by FEI Officials and we have seen this research directly influence the FEI governance procedure with the proposed modifications to the FEI Endurance Rules at this year’s General Assembly.”