A Walk in Wonderland: Luhmühlen CCI4* Cross Country Course Preview

But what if they made the jump judges dress up like elves and sugarplums? Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Here’s wishing all Luhmühlen competitors a fairytale trip around Saturday’s cross country course! The track has an enchanted feel about it, like something out of a Brothers Grimm fable, dipping in and out of sun-dappled pines over jumps aesthetically inspired by their woodland setting. It’s like a nature walk going around it — I watched white-bottom bees diving headfirst into the plush pollen of wildflowers, frogs splashing around in the water obstacles, and songbirds chasing one another across the sapphire blue sky.

Don’t you just want to gallop through this grove of pines? Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Mike Etherington Smith inherited the course design baton from Captain Mark Phillips after Luhmühlen 2016. He says it will take him another two or three years to get the track where he wants it, but his inaugural track already bears his stamp — stiff yet horse-friendly and, of course, impeccably presented.

Four out of five of our U.S. pairs are rerouting from an unlucky Rolex or Badminton, and the fifth, Marilyn Little with RF Scandalous, is looking to Luhmühlen for a four-star debut. So all stand to benefit from a course that is big and challenging yet legible, so to speak, which Luhmühlen looks to be.

“I am mindful that Luhmühlen has a fantastic reputation in the sport and am very keen to ensure that this continues,” Mike said of the course.

“A lot of work has been done to continue developing the footing, which for me is very important and we have a number of new fences to add to the mix,” Mike continued. “Good footing leads to confident horses and good jumping, and my thanks to everyone who has worked so hard on it throughout the year despite the best efforts of the wild pigs to destroy their handiwork!”

Riders will need to keep gas in the tank for the last real question on this year’s course, the DHL Komplex at #26-27 . Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Not sure my own curvaceous pony could squeeze between the flags of fence #25, a tall, skinny triple brush on a mound. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The first splash into water arrives at fences #7-8, the Krüll Cars Village. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Love the fox hunt theme detail on fence #14, nestled on a new path through the woods. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Take a tour via this drone flyover video from Luhmühlen:

And we’ll hand the mic to CrossCountry App for a fence-by-fence play-by-play. Many thanks to Felicia von Baath from the Horse and Rider Shop Luhmühlen for recording it, and don’t forget to download the course to your iPhone and iPad via CrossCountry App.

We’ll update this post with cross country ride times when they become available. Keep it locked here for all the latest!

Luhmühlen Links: Website, Entries, ScheduleFriday Starting Order, Live ScoresFEI TV, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Twitter, EN’s Instagram

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