Click each number in the 5* map to see the individual combination with pictures and some comments by course designer Mike Etherington-Smith.

Cross Country Fences Longines CCI5*-L

Going cross country with the course designer

It is great to be back in action for all of us at one of the world’s top events and a huge thank you to Julia, the shareholders, and the team who have made the commitment to make it happen.


We are also very fortunate to be able to expand the footprint of the course in to some new ground and this is stage 1 for what will be an exciting development of the new area that is available.


It will be interesting to see how everyone performs as the sport is getting back in to its groove. I would expect by now everyone will have had a few preparatory runs but there will still be some stepping up to the level for the first time and they will be up against several who have been at the level for a few years. This is something that all course designers have to be mindful of.


With the availability of the additional land I am hoping that time will have more of an influence but with the quality of the field this year I may be being a little too optimistic! We are lucky to be able to see so many world class competitors and horses at this year’s event and the competitions are certainly going to take some winning.


The course runs right handed and will pick up several of the features that we used in the Europeans in 2019. The Auftakt der Sparkasse Harburg-Buxtehude (1), the Güldenmoor (2) and the Bienenoxer (3) are straightforward, up to height and spread, fences which allow the riders to get their horses into a good rhythm and jumping in a good shape.


The Longines Wasser (4/5) comes early when we go this way around and so it is important that the horses are switched on by now. It is quite a long run from fence 3 to the big drop at the Longines water and this is the first real question on the course. Horses will come down the hill and as they get closer they’ll see the water opening up in front of them.


All these fences here require confidence, neatness, athleticism, trust, honesty, and good riding. The drop
in to the water is the maximum permitted at 2m and this is quickly followed by the boat on a curving 4 line and then up the slope on 3 to the narrow triple brush. A good ride through here will give lots of confidence for what lies ahead. As with all the more difficult questions there is a long route for those who are not perhaps at the top of their game.


The Hof Sudermühlens Reiterbar (6) is a big, straightforward fence as they make their way to the main arena.


The Vogel (7) on its own is not a difficult fence and will be used as a bit of a set up fence for the Longines Kombination (8). The spread needs the right line and approach speed to make the double of corners unfold easily. The line is not easy, the horses need to be paying attention, and the riders need to be switched on or a run out will be all too easy.


On then to the Gärtnerei Wrede Rennbahnsprung (9) which needs respecting even though it is not a difficult fence as they make their way to the Gestüt (10/11ab) and the double gates which are all related. There is an element of uncertainty as to how big the horses may jump fence 10 – jump it too big and the gates become much more difficult and so the approach pace is important. The gates are frangible and are all about the line and neatness of the jump. Anyone who overjumps the cabin will be able to circle back to the gates without being penalised.


The Holzstoß (12) is a maximum dimension fence and sets them up for the Messmer Teich (13/14ab/15). This year the quick route requires honesty and accuracy at the narrow fence which sits in the water. There is a degree of uncertainty for the riders here in that their horse may not simply run in to the water, we sometimes see horses jump in even if it is a run in. Any horse which unexpectedly jumps in to the water gives their rider a bit more work to do and makes the fence more difficult.


This is followed by a run up on to the island and then jumping off it back in to the water over the log with a big drop which in turn is quickly followed by an angled brush at the top of the slope. Horses and riders need to be confident and honest through here on the quick line because the long route is especially time consuming.


The attractive Watermill concludes this series of fences and is a fun fence after the intensity of the water.


A gallop then follows through the woods to the Vogelnest (16) which is a let up fence even though it looks very big sitting at the top of the slope, leading to the LVM Wellenbahn (17). It is similar to the fence in the European Championships but more difficult and a bit bigger. The frangible rails at the top of the slope followed by the maximum drop off the bank are relatively straightforward, the real question is the corner that follows. It is a wide corner and requires commitment, balance, and honesty and much will depend on how they jump the drop. If the drop doesn’t go too well the riders can avoid the corner and go around to another, unrelated corner – decision time.


No real let up as they come to the Luhmühlens Wasserspiele (18), a decent log in to the water followed by two offset brushes. At this level I would expect most to jump this comfortably.


On to the new piece of land that will be developed over time. This year the Pappel Sprung (19) is a maximum fence (it looks very big!) as a let up after the last 2 combinations as they make their way to the Lotto Tisch (20) before the next question, the Doppel-Ecken-Kombination (21/22/23).


Two big open frangible corners on a curving line are asking for good riding, correct pace and presentation, honesty and neatness. This is another fence where we can see how good the relationship is between horse and rider. Anyone electing to take the long route here will use up a lot of time.


Back then towards the water on the other field to jump the big Blumentisch (24) which will set everyone up for the tricky Luhmühlens Wasserspiele (25). A run out at the narrow brush would be all too easy and so no room for complacency here before running through the water up to the Flower Box sitting on top of the bank on the other side of the water. This is another fence with a long route but again it will use a lot of time.


A bit of a breather as two straightforward fences follow. The Windmühle (26) and the Trakehner (27) should present no problems for anyone.


The Coffin (28) is the traditional question. I have tried to make sure that riders have to pay attention all the way around the course and so as we come to the last minute they need to keep concentrating. This fence should work well for them assuming it is ridden well, the only real risk being a run out at the last element.


The imposing Horseware Jump (29) looks impressive and always jumps well.


And so to the last, the Longines Final Jump (31) which is the one everyone looks forward to.


My thanks go, as always, to the fence building team led by David Evans and Carl Fletcher, and the team who put it all together and make the fences look so good. I hope that everyone has a good, positive, cross country day and we see lots of good pictures.


Good luck to all

Mike Etherington-Smith