Eventing safety takes a step forward at Luhmühlen

  • Mark Phillips took eventing safety another step further at Luhmühlen last weekend (18-21) when he used MIM Clips to allow the back part of triple brush arrowheads to break away.

    The course-designer and H&H columnist had the idea after a couple of nasty accidents at this sort of fence including the fatal fall of France’s Bruno Bouvier in Portugal in 2013.

    “If a horse takes off a stride early they will come down on the back of a triple brush arrowhead,” said Mark. “I don’t think this will stop them falling, but it should stop a rotational fall [the type which most commonly causes a rider fatality] — the horse would go to the ground on its nose instead.

    “Statistically triple brush arrowheads are one of the safer types of fence, unless horses leave a stride out, when they are actually quite dangerous.”

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    Two triple brush arrowheads in combinations had the clips in Luhmühlen, as well as the wide brush fence in the arena. MIM Clips, a Swedish invention, are not approved for use at British Eventing fixtures, but Mark wants them to be allowed, as he believes they are better than frangible pins in some situations.

    Mark added: “It’s about using the right [frangible] device in the right place. However, you can’t justify a fence by making it frangible, that’s just an insurance policy — you’ve got to feel comfortable with the type of fence in a place.”

    There was intense pressure to have a cross-country day without any horse or rider fatalities at Luhmühlen after the death of German rider Benjamin Winter here last year and of French horse P’tite Bombe after a fall in 2013. Both incidents inflamed the German media, which can be hostile to eventing and its safety issues.

    The result was just what was needed, with only one fall in the CCI4* and no serious injuries — every horse which completed the cross-country passed Sunday’s horse inspection. But the cross-country still exerted an influence, with 25 finishers from 35 starters. There were also no falls in the supporting CIC3*.

    Event director Julia Otto said: “It’s been an emotional weekend for the organisation, but we’re all so relieved and happy everything went so well on cross-country day.”

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