UK, USEF to work on study of jump safety

University of Kentucky engineers will partner with the U.S. Equestrian Federation to look for ways to make cross-country jumps safer.

The federation announced on Wednesday that it is forming a team to develop "frangible," breakaway, fences. The move comes after a wave of deaths — both riders and horses — in the sport known as three-day eventing in the last two years.

The USEF held a two-day safety summit in June in Lexington after two horses died and a rider was seriously injured at this year's Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.

The research team will include USEF president and Olympic gold medalist David O'Connor, cross-country course designers and builders, and UK engineering faculty and students.

The USEF hopes to raise $150,000 for the research project. According to the press release, the project will evaluate prototype and full-scale jump concepts.

"We leapt at the chance to participate in this project, which has such importance for our state," said Eric Grulke, UK associate dean for research.

"We are going to research ways to make safer jumps through new and improved materials, different construction and better design. With work in all three areas, we think we can build revolutionary and safer eventing jumps."