Luhmühlen Horse Trials is to make its CIC3* course easier, following heavy criticism of this year’s event (13-16 June) in the German media, which is notoriously hostile to eventing.

Organiser Julia Otto said she had received “a lot of flak” after cross-country day. There was “some constructive criticism but also some unreasonable blame”, she added.

Mark Phillips’ CIC3* track was beefed up for 2012 to prepare riders for the Olympics — and was left at that level this year.

Ms Otto said the standard of riders this year had been “completely different and the technical questions were too difficult for some”.

Next year’s course would be “a little easier and friendlier”, she added, stressing that Capt Phillips was “one of the best course-designers in the world” and would stay on for another three years.

Mark Phillips told H&H he had met the organisers of Luhmühlen last month.

“It was decided they wanted to keep the CCI as a four-star, but make the CIC3* more for the younger horses, so that people will know what to expect,” he said.

Much of the “flak” described by Ms Otto was reserved for the CCI4* course — a typically testing and influential Phillips track.

The first water complex at fence four produced five horse falls, including Andrew Nicholson’s Qwanza. P’tite Bombe, ridden by Emeric George, had to be put down following a fall at fence 12, which had caused no other problems. Faults were spread evenly around the course.

Kevin McNab, fifth at Luhmühlen with Clifton Pinot (pictured), told H&H that none of the riders had anticipated problems at fence four.

I thought he [Mark Phillips] did a really good job with the rest of the track and I’m intending to have a horse there next year, hopefully two,” he added.

Originally published in Horse & Hound 19 September 2013