Factors associated with safe completion of Fédération Equestre Internationale eventing cross‐country (2008–2018)

Bennet, Euan, Cameron-Whytock, Heather orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0760-2584 and Parkin, Tim (2023) Factors associated with safe completion of Fédération Equestre Internationale eventing cross‐country (2008–2018). Equine Veterinary Journal . ISSN 0425-1644

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/evj.14002


Equestrian eventing involves competing in three phases: dressage, jumping, and cross-country. Competitors are ranked by number of penalties accrued—with those who have fewer penalties ranked higher. Completing the cross-country phase with zero obstacle penalties is commonly referred to as ‘running clear’. Understanding factors associated with running clear can help athletes plan strategically for success, while also helping governing bodies to refine qualification criteria for elite levels.

This study was carried out to identify factors associated with running clear in the cross-country phase of Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) eventing.

Study design
Retrospective cohort study of 107 348 horse starts worldwide in all FEI competitions between January 2008 and December 2018.

Multivariable logistic regression models constructed stepwise using a bi-directional process. Two study cohorts were assessed: a complete cohort that met all inclusion requirements and separately, a cohort that included only horses starting at the level above their previous start.

Sixteen factors were associated with running clear. Factors associated with increased likelihood of doing so included lower event level, lower dressage score earlier in the event, fewer recent FEI event starts, and more clear runs in their previous three FEI events. For horses that had stepped up an event level, 14 of these factors were still associated with running clear.

Main limitations
Data available covered only FEI events, no national federation competitions were available for inclusion in horse histories. No prior veterinary information or data on training were available.

This study provides a framework that allows stakeholders to potentially better understand the appropriate level of competition for any particular horse/rider combination, given the combination's recent history. This could provide an additional direct benefit in terms of safety by reducing the likelihood of a combination falling during cross-country.

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