Luhmühlen Looks Ahead to 2015 with Safety In Mind

Tim Price and Wesko. Photo by Jenni Autry. Tim Price and Wesko. Photo by Jenni Autry.

As 2015 approaches, it’s never too early to begin ironing out the details for an upcoming event, especially when it’s one of the premier CCI4* events in the world. Julia Otto, Event Director for Luhmühlen, and her team are looking forward to 2015 with a focus on safety and efficiency forefront in their minds.

“To my mind, it is very important to recall and scrutinise the past. We all have to try our utmost to improve the communication within the sport,” Julia said in a recent press release. “Transparency and the mutual exchange of ideas increase the understanding for different views and thereby also the safety for eventing. And this is our major concern.”

After a tragic ending in 2014, the minds behind the event are focusing on what can be done to improve safety not only at Luhmühlen but at every event worldwide. Capt. Mark Phillips, the course designer for Luhmühlen, shared his thoughts on his course for the upcoming year, stressing the importance of balance and communication.

“I use both the PIN and MIM systems in Europe and North America. They are both useful devices in certain situations. We are working on developing a frangible system with certain types of brush fences, although the brush itself is a semi frangible medium,” Capt. Phillips said. “It is impossible to make equestrian sports 100% safe. All we can do is to use and introduce systems that can help make the sport safer and site fences and use materials in a way that again makes fences as horse friendly as possible.

“Additionally the greatest aid towards safety is the respect riders have for the fences, so we are always trying to find the balance between the fence that is forgiving and yet still taken seriously by the riders. The exchange between riders, officials, coaches and designers has never been more open. Views and opinions are never discarded out of hand but always considered in detail by the relevant parties. It is also understood that the rider on the best horse and the rider on the worst horse will have a totally different view of the same fence. That is why it is important to get the considered opinion of all parties.”

In preparation for the 2015 event, the course will be reversed, which presents a logistical challenge as the cross country space is not very large. So the designers and builders must keep in mind the best paths for each jump and the optimum spacing so that competitors do not run the risk of overtaking one another.

“We then had to re-think the ‘balance’ of the course and ease of coverage for TV and also how to use the existing fences so not to impact the budget more than necessary. The groundwork is complete. We have improved the gallop track in the woods and the ground around Meßmer. Building the new fences indoors will take place in the winter and outdoors in the spring,” Capt. Phillips said of the design process.

We’re looking forward to seeing the new course unveiled for 2015, and as we continue to strive for safety and communication in the sport, the Luhmühlen organizers’ efforts are a great way to continue the discussion as we move forward.

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