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Equestrian Safety – Generational Change Needed

Please see original article published in The Australian newspaper on 15 April 2019 here:

Generational Change Needed to Bring Equestrian Safety into 21st Century

Koffels Solicitors & Barristers view with interest and applaud the article in The Australian on the 15 April 2019 regarding safety protocol at Equestrian Events, and specifically in Eventing. We have long held the view that the standards within equestrian sports have languished. This has occurred behind both a reasonable standard and public expectation.

We are currently running a matter with just this issue at stake.  At proceedings the court alleged that there was a fundamental breach of the rules. The possible result of such rule breach was grave injury to our client. In particular, this breach occurred in the building of the cross-country course where the incident occurred.  Coincidentally, people involved in the building of the course at Gundagai, were also in a position of supervision at the event where our client suffered a massive rotational fall of horse and rider.  She is more than lucky to be alive today.


Having been involved in all aspects of equestrian sport over the years, it concerns us deeply that the generational changes and subsequent embrace of fundamental attention to detail in the promotion of safety in the sport, are still so lagging behind public expectation, and indeed the standards of other sporting endeavours.  Year after year the “bravado” of both officials and the established status quo of the sport appear to still be as it has ever been.

Our firm has a strong practice in Sports Law, and we are also involved in The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS), and Ross Koffel is a delegate to the NSW Council.

As an example, CAMS have been pro-active to regulate the sport in relation to safety. They regulate because they believe that the safety rules are paramount. This provides protection to the members who participate in the events. This will occasionally result in members dropping out of specific events. There is no price on the well-being of their members.  This may even seem harsh to some but their view can change dramatically when it is a loved one who suffers the consequences of rule bending and sub-standard safety regulations.

The management of Equestrian sports in Australia needs to do take a similar approach. The only alternative is for the Government to take control of safety in the sport.

Coronial Inquest

A major focus on safety in Eventing will occur at the upcoming Coronial Inquests in May. These inquests are in relation to the deaths of 2 young Eventing riders Oliva Inglis and Caitlyn Fischer.  We can only believe that if recommendations flow from the inquest, the sport will be all the better for them.

Experience gives depth to any institution, but the old guard always needs to pass it on and then step down to allow for the new and progressive generations to take them forward. The fall-back position of, “this is a dangerous sport” simply does not wash when gross errors of judgment and responsibility can cause catastrophic injury, where it simply need not have happened.

Koffels act for individuals and organisations involved in equestrian sport at all levels including;  buying, selling, leasing, breeding, syndication and training horses, and acting on the resulting disputes.  We represent individuals before disciplinary tribunals and advise on legal liability including insurance.  Our practice is cross-border with global connections.

Please see original article published in The Australian newspaper on 15 April 2019 here:

1 replies to Equestrian Safety – Generational Change Needed

  1. As a gear checker with PCV at events I have had parents ask me to “overlook” some fault in saddlery. I will never do this under any circumstances they dont think of consequences. I have had people abuse me for it. Keep up with what you are putting up on Facebook please.

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