USEF Launches Frangible Technology Research Campaign

The U.S. Equestrian Foundation will conduct research with the University of Kentucky into frangible techology, or 'breakaway fences,' for cross-country fences.

Lexington, Ky., October 8, 2008 — A group of cross-country course designers including U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) President and licensed course designer, David O’Connor, are taking another step in their continuing commitment to eventing safety. O’Connor and other course designers and builders will join with faculty and students at the University of Kentucky, forming a multidisciplinary team to develop and demonstrate additional frangible technology for cross-country fences.

Frangible technology, often referred to as “breakaway fences”, must be based on sound engineering principles; it is not as simple as making fences that fall down when impacted. Ill-designed frangible technology can cause more problems than it is intended to prevent. This is an important project and will be costly in terms of testing and development. The USEF has launched a fundraising campaign to raise the funds to support this program.

This team expects to build on the extensive prior work of the Transportation Research Laboratory and Bristol University in Great Britain. The engineers plan to evaluate prototype and full scale jump concepts that course designers and course builders are developing.

“The University of Kentucky was connected with the USEF by a member of the Engineering Advisory Board,” said Dr. Eric Grulke, University of Kentucky Associate Dean for Research. “We leapt at the chance to participate in this project, which has such importance for our state. We are excited to be teaming with such an experienced group of designers. 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.”

“We are excited to be partnering with the University of Kentucky to help design the next generation of cross-country fences so that all of us can continue to enjoy the sport,” said O’Connor.

The technology is expensive to develop and the USEF has set a goal of raising $150,000 to support the research project. USEF and safety supporter Dr. Craig Ferrell has kicked off the fundraising effort in order to get the program underway. Visit the USEF website to make a donation to the Frangible Technology Fund.

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