USEF President David O'Connor Responds to Recent Article in New York Times on the Dangers of Equestrian Sport

Responding to a story which ran in the New York Times on Wednesday about Eventing USEF President and Eventing Oympic Gold medalist David O'Connor has issued the following statement:

The picture on the front page was of a horse falling. The article has received some serious attention both locally in Kentucky (it ran on the front page of our local paper again) and internationally. USEF President and Olympic Eventing Gold medalist David O'Connor's has responded. USEF wanted to ensure that you are all informed of his position and know some of the most important numbers in regards to safety in eventing in case a member of the media or someone outside the sport approaches you about it.

"In every sport, the governing body works to educate athletes and minimize risks in order to make the sport as safe as possible. Over the years the United States Equestrian Federation has worked extensively to minimize the possibility of accidents and our commitment to safety is unwavering. In the United States we have instituted rigorous procedures for the review of Accident/Injury reports which recognized competitions are required to file. Any accident is a tragedy and is thoroughly investigated.

Educational programs and safety initiatives are constantly evolving to make the sport better and safer, and our focus is to continuously improve. In the United States in 2007, there were 46,099 starters in the sport of eventing and 111 accidents - which is .02% - related to jumping on the cross-country course. Of these accidents 10 were serious enough to require at least one night's stay in the hospital. This means that .002% of starts results in a serious injury which is a reduction from 2006. We strive to reduce these numbers further. We continue to implement programs focused on qualifications for advancement in the sport and support increasing the responsibility of licensed officials required to supervise competition.

Those of us who make our lives with horses understand that these horses become an extension of ourselves and their wellbeing is our highest priority. Serious accidents, even deaths, of rider or horse cause us to reflect on our sport and ensure we are achieving the right balance of challenge and safety. That is a guiding and constant commitment of both The United States Equestrian Federation and its affiliate the United States Eventing Association.

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