Safety is the top priority in any sport and a pair of horse fatalities at last year’s Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo forced the Stock Show to enhance its safety measures for both rodeo athletes and livestock this year.
That’s why the Stock Show contacted Texas Motor Speedway about the speedway’s use of SAFER Barriers, known as “soft walls” that soften the impact of high-speed wrecks during races.
Even though the horse fatalities were among one of the most rare occurrences – the Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association conducted a survey of animal injuries and concluded the rate of injury to rodeo livestock is fewer than five hundredths of one percent (0.0005 percent) – the Stock Show wanted to take the necessary steps to try and lower the risks even more.
That’s why Stock Show president and general manager Brad Barnes reached out to TMS president Eddie Gossage about ways to make the rodeo safer.
“NASCAR’s reputation for driver safety gave me the confidence that our quest for an improved wall for rodeo competition was starting in the right place,” Barnes said. “Eddie’s referral was invaluable in helping us accomplish this important objective.”
Said Gossage: “I explained the concept to him and gave him some phone numbers of who to contact. And they’ve come up with a similar concept, but have obviously scaled it to their needs. I have to give them credit for being cognizant and aggressive in finding some solutions to problems that will hopefully protect and save the lives of the livestock.”
The Stock Show installed what is described as a “flex-wall system” earlier this month, and it incorporates the concepts used at NASCAR tracks with SAFER Barriers, ice hockey rinks “dasher board” wall systems and matting materials used at Olympic-caliber gymnastic competition facilities.
NASCAR introduced the SAFER Barriers in 2002 at Indianapolis Speedway. It’s a concept developed by engineers from the University of Nebraska and stands for Steel And Foam Energy Reduction Barriers.