Traffic light system to reduce risk of cross-country riding

‘Eventing is a risk sport and we will never eliminate all risk but this is a huge step forward into today’s digital world’

Eventing Ireland, which governs the sport of horse trials throughout the island, has announced a partnership with Co Carlow-based advanced eventing analytics company EquiRatings to improve the safety of both horses and riders by reducing the risk of cross-country riding.

EquiRatings, which is owned by international event rider Sam Watson and lawyer Diarmuid Byrne, has created a form-tracking system called the EquiRatings Quality Index (ERQI). It has analysed over 150,000 results worldwide across all levels of competition with the output showing a strong correlation between a low ERQI and the likelihood of a horse incurring penalties, elimination and falls in the cross-country phase.

The EQRI system will highlight combinations which display signs of being uncomfortable at a particular level. If combinations exhibit a prolonged period of poor form then the system may restrict participation in instances where riders have not taken necessary precautions themselves.

For the 2016 EI season, which starts at Rosanna in Co Wicklow on Sunday, March 13th, riders will see a traffic light system in operation when they enter an event. This will range from Green, where the ERQI is satisfactory; Amber where the ERQI is sufficient but competition at a lower level is advised; and Red where the ERQI is unsatisfactory and competition at a lower level will be mandatory.

Red zone combinations would typically present cross-country form of just one clear in the past five to 10 attempts. The rider fall rate in EI is 1.5 per cent, but red zone riders have a fall rate almost three times higher at 4.3 per cent.

Georgia Stubington, EI chairman said of this ground-breaking innovation: “This is the most exciting project I have worked on in my time as chairman of Eventing Ireland. I think this takes Eventing Ireland into the top leagues of national Governing Bodies who have been using data analysis to promote high performance for some time. I think that aspect of our work with EquiRatings will come in the future but now we are concentrating on safety.

“Eventing is a risk sport and we will never eliminate all risk but this is a huge step forward into today’s digital world. I am so proud that this system has been devised and developed by Sam Watson, a member of Eventing Ireland, and Diarmuid Byrne, young entrepreneurs of the highest rank.”