5 Questions with Mike Etherington-Smith

Eventing Nation continues its 2010 World Equestrian Games coverage asking a few questions of the Eventing Championships cross-country course designer, Mike Etherington-Smith.
Mike Etherington-Smith hardly needs an introduction.  He designed the Sydney and Hong Kong Olympics cross-country courses, and he has designed the Rolex cross-country course since 1993.  ES is also Chief Executive of British Eventing and served as technical advisor for the 2006 FEI WEG Eventing Championships.  
I sent ES an email last week on a whim just to see if one of Eventing’s biggest names would talk to me.  And he did!  Before we get to the Q&A, let me just point out how star-struck I was when his email address appeared in my inbox.

When did construction for the WEG cross-country course begin?
Last year with the ground prep and the new shape for the water fence at the Head of the Lake
How will the WEG course differ from this year’s Rolex event?
A lot!  Not going to give any secrets away at this stage though!
Where do you find creative inspiration for cross-country course design?
Constant thinking, having a feel for the ground/terrain, and imagination
What are you most looking forward to about the Games?
The atmosphere, the challenge, and the opportunity to enjoy the experience in addition to seeing if my job was done well enough
What is the biggest challenge designing a four-star cross-country course?
ES listed several significant challenges designing four-star courses including: 
  • to produce a course that is as safe as possible 
  • to produce a course that is sufficient to give horses and riders the opportunity to learn and benefit from the experience 
  • to give sufficient challenge for the best to come out on top whilst giving those stepping up to the level for the first time a really positive experience 
  • to provide a flow and balance to the course with a good variety of questions 
  • to test the rider’s ability to ride and judge pace, effort, and make them think as they are going around the course making decisions based on how their horse is going 
  • to provide an interesting and visually attractive course for spectators

Thanks Mr. Etherington-Smith for taking the time to educate Eventing Nation and for being an experienced force in our sport.   

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