A second rider in as many months has been forced to abandon a round in an international competition due to a broken Freejump stirrup.
Christian Landolt was competing at Bicton Arena International horse trials last month (21 April) when the breakage took place.
He was riding Toblerone NZPH in the CIC2* and was in the lead after the dressage.
“My Freejump stirrup snapped at fence two,” he told H&H.
“Luckily I did not fall off and managed to jump a few more fences before the pain of a pulled adductor muscle was too painful, so I had to retire.
“All I can say is that luckily I was not going across country at the time.”
Last month, H&H reported that showjumper Henrik Von Eckermann’s stirrup had broken during the CSI5* Grand Prix Hermès in Paris on 19 March.
Christian watched the video of Henrik’s resulting fall.
“It seems my stirrup snapped in exactly the same place,” he said.
“I fully appreciate that stirrups do have to absorb a lot of landing [pressure] and may get fatigued.
“However mine were less than three years old and get very low use: I only have one event horse, and jump on average once per week, if that, and much smaller fences than a grand prix showjumper.
“They are great stirrups and very popular, but clearly there is a manufacture issue which needs investigating.”
Christian has sent his stirrup to Freejump for testing.
When contacted by H&H, Freejump confirmed it had been contacted by Christian, and was awaiting his stirrups for investigation and to check the date of their production.
The Freejump spokesman reiterated the response the company gave to H&H when Henrik’s stirrup broke, adding that the showjumper still rides in Freejump stirrups.
At that time, the company said “how sorry they are” to Henrik, but that it was pleased to see both horse and rider were uninjured.
“It is not the first broken stirrup, but it is obviously the first that has received so much media coverage,” the spokesman told H&H.
“Beyond all the concerns that were expressed on social networks following a viral diffusion of the video of the fall and the many messages of support, only an [expert examination] of the stirrup could inform us about the nature of the event.
“In collaboration with Henrik — who is deeply convinced of the benefits of Freejump stirrups but of course worried about the causes of breakage — we were able to examine the stirrups and understand the situation.”
The company found the material gave way following the fatiguing of a “micro-crack” at the breakage site.
The production serial number of this set of stirrups dates back to 2012 — the first series of the Soft’Up Pro.
The spokesman added that the bending or “breathing” of the stirrups, which the riders feel at each stride and which is the main advantage of the Freejump stirrups, is mechanically “extremely demanding”.
“Dimensioned for an unlimited lifetime in normal operation, our stirrups can be weakened by a violent shock or a particularly intensive use,” he said.
“Henrik was riding up to 10 horses a day at Ludger Beerbaum’s, besides riding in grands prix every weekend.
“Henrik is tall and rides short on his stirrups, which accentuates even more the pressure.
“Nowadays, our single-branch stirrups, which are bringing their share of technical evolutions, need to be monitored and replaced as part of an intensive use.”
The company has examined the stirrup and has
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The company’s stirrups are “million times” tested on a specific machine and Freejump works “continuously” to improve them.
“The steel wires are 25% more resistant than those of the first series involved in the fall of Henrik, which were themselves twice more resistant than the first generation of Soft’Up stirrups,” the spokesman said.
“Conscious of the expectations that riders have for Freejump products, we assure you to keep on working tirelessly to design the best stirrups in the world.”