Calls for change after frangible device costs riders top-10 results at Pau five-star

  • Frangible cross-country devices were the topic of debate after the five-star Pau Horse Trials cross-country phase on Saturday (29 October), when nine riders activated the MIMClip on fence 21B.

    The riders who picked up 11 penalties at 21b, a corner on a curving stride from a log/drop into the third water complex, included dressage leader Felix Vogg (Colero). There were also three British competitors – Mollie Summerland (Charly Van Ter Heiden), Aaron Miller (KEC Deakon) and David Doel on his first horse Ferro Point.

    The subject became a talking point among riders as some considered they had not hit the fence hard enough for it to warrant collapsing, though undoubtedly there were some cases where the device saved falls. Some called for the reintroduction of an appeal system, whereby the ground jury assesses whether the 11 penalties given for a broken frangible device could be removed if they feel the horse was not at risk of falling.

    The activation was especially expensive for Felix Vogg, who was in the lead going into the cross-country, and finished the event in 17th place.

    After the competition had finished, Felix said: “I’m totally with it that the sport has to get safer for riders and horses, and it’s good that there is progress in it. But there is not enough research at the moment – we just take a system and penalise the riders if they activate it – it doesn’t matter how many horses touched it before.

    “At every event we have frustrated riders, owners and so on because of MIMclips which shouldn’t have been activated.

    “So now the questions: was that fence so dangerous? Do we have such bad riders at five-star level? What are the riders doing wrong so they couldn’t jump the fence clean? Is it the wrong system? Or is it the wrong fence in the wrong place? Or maybe something else?

    “Is it possible that a safety system has become a reason for worries, problems and a strategic system to influence the final result of the cross-country when it should only protect horse and rider?

    “The time should be finished where riders have to look back across country to see if a fence has fallen.”

    Course-designer Pierre Michelet said: “Safety is paramount, so it’s one of those things and riders have to ride with that in mind. Some incidents today with the MIMclips did prevent serious falls, whereas others were more like a fence going down in the showjumping and those riders were harshly sanctioned by the 11 penalties.”

    The Pau Horse Trials cross-country proved influential but without any serious falls. Four riders finished clear inside the 11-minute optimum time from 47 starters (8.5%). These were David Doel on Galileo Nieuwmoed, who finished in eventual fourth, Karim Florent Laghouag and Triton Fontaine, who were second, Maxime Livio with Carouzo Bois Marotin (seventh) and Luc Chateau on Viens Du Mont (ninth).

    In total, 21 combinations finished clear but with time-faults (44.7% of the field) and 38 of the 47 starters completed (80.9%).

    • What are your views about MIMClips and the penalties associated within them in FEI eventing? Let us know your thoughts by emailing hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and county.

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