Over the past 18 months, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has seen a spike in the number of equine fatalities and collapses at its events. While federation rules require owners to report fatalities within 24 hours, there are currently no regulations regarding collapse—defined as "a fall for no apparent cause."
At a USEF Town Hall meeting about performance horse welfare, held June 3 in Lexington, Ky., a panel of federation officials and veterinarians discussed the need for a "collapse rule" and how to best define it.
"Over the last 12 months we started getting unofficial phone calls making inquiries about collapses witnessed at shows," said USEF senior vice president and general counsel Sonja Keating. "We realized we need to know what’s going on in the field and at least have a system in place to look at these, see if there’s any common thread, and try to reduce the number of collapses occurring at these competitions."
In response, the USEF veterinary committee proposed a rule to the executive committee in April requiring riders, trainers, or owners to report when a horse collapses. The committee is also meeting with organizations such as the Fédération Equestre Internationale, the National Football League, and the American Kennel Club to discuss best practices (such as tip lines) in reporting similar incidents.
"When this rule was drafted and proposed, the purpose was threefold," explained USEF vice president of national affiliates Bill Moroney. "One, for reporting to come directly to the federation; two, so we can act appropriately and have