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 really good to be planning the courses again knowing that supporters of the sport will be at this wonderful venue and that horses and riders will be able to perform in front of crowds once again. It has been a bizarre couple of years and the big atmosphere has been missed. One of the challenges is to produce courses which give the world’s top riders something to think about given that it is the highest level in the sport whilst recog- nising that some are stepping up to the level for the first time. A bit of added spice is that some will be looking to impress their selectors for this year’s World Championships in Italy in September meaning that they have to put in good performances.


This year’s course uses the familiar features and there are interesting and exciting plans to expand and develop the courses moving forwards. We start off with three straightforward fences, the Auftakt der Sparkasse Harburg-Buxtehude (1), the Voltaire Sattelbock (2), and the Güldenmoor (3), which are all designed to give the riders the chance to settle any nerves they may have, get their horses into a rhythm, and most importantly, into a good ‘shape’.


As usual there are several fences (the first one is 3) which are fitted with frangible safety mechanisms which have been developed over the years to help reduce the possibility of rotational falls. It is a system which has proved its worth around the world and continues to be developed.


There is then plenty of time on the gallop through the woods to contemplate the Longines Wasser (4/5abc). The Coop (4) on its own is straightforward enough but it has a near maximum drop before very quickly coming to the water itself. Going this way round the water comes early enough in the course and horses and riders need to be switched on now. 5a is a maximum drop into the water and the presentation here and the way they jump in will have an effect on the next 2 elements which will come up quickly. Once in the water it will be either 4 or 5 strides to the brush on a curving line and then 3 up the slope to the final, angled, brush. It is all about the line and good riding.


A bit of a breather follows as they begin heading towards the main arena and come to the maximum dimension Reiterbar (6). It looks impressive but is really a ‘let up’ fence.


The arena will have its usual atmosphere and attention is needed from horse and rider. The Lotto Vogel (7) is a set up fence for the Longines Kombination (8abc) where riders have to ride well and horses have to be honest and accurate. The first corner (8a) is set such that how the riders ride the line to it and to the clocktower (8b) will determine how well they jump the last element (8c). Good presentation, correct pace, accuracy and the ability to hold a line, and honesty are required. The corners here use the MIM system.


The next two fences should be straightforward but any fence on any course must not be taken for granted. The Rennbahnhecke (9) has been around for many years and was jumped on the original steeplechase course when there Roads & Tracks (Phases A & C) and Steeplechase (Phase B) before the cross country, and the Gärtnerei Wredes Rennbahnhecke (10) has also been here for many years – it needs respecting.


The Gatter (11abc) need to be well ridden. They are not that difficult but presentation, pace, and line are key.


On then to one of the main features of Luhmuhlen. To set them up there is the big Holzstoß (12) coming through the trees and then the horses come to the water, the Messmer Teich (13abc/14). The MIM rails (13a) are just under the maximum permitted height and have water in the background and this is where horses need to be athletic and quick footed. They should land on the flat before running down into the water, onto the island than off over the maximum drop (13b) back in to the water before having to quickly gather themselves for the angled brush at the top of the slop (13c). This will all unfold pretty quickly for the riders and they’ll need to be on their game or a run out at the last element will be all too easy to happen. Finally, to complete the series of fences here, they jump the Watermill (14) which will be a nice way to leave this part of the course.


The Vogelnest (15) in the middle of the wood looks big but should ride and jump well and will give them a bit of a breather before the next question, the LVM Wellenbahn (16abc). This is the same as last year when it rode well. The silver birch rails (16a) at the top of the slope lead to a maximum drop to 3 strides to a big corner. Boldness and confidence combined with accuracy and honesty are needed here. There is a long option to the corner if anyone needs it. Both corners use the MIM system and the silver birch rails also have the MIM system installed.


On then towards the next water, the LeMieux Lagune (17/18ab). A maximum Buschoxer (17) will help the setting up for the very narrow brush just before the water (18a). On the approach it looks as though the landing is in water (although it shouldn’t be) and so horses need to be confident and honest. It will help that they have been into water already but nevertheless a run out is very easy to have here. I have given them an option if they want to use it. 18b, the narrow flower box on the mound after the water, finishes this complex off but it is also on the narrow side and so should not be taken for granted.


On then to the Holzstoß (19) and the MIM Tisch (20). They are big but are what we refer to as ‘let up’ fences. I have though moved the table into a different position which will make the riders think a bit harder about getting on to the optimum line for the next fences.


The Doppelecken (21/22ab/23) remain as last time on a curving 4 strides and both are MIM’ed in case something might go wrong. The numbering here seems bizarre but the reason for it is so that the long route, if anyone needs to take it, flows nicely for the horses.


Back to the LeMieux Lagune (24abc) for the second time, this time jumping over the log into the water (24a), a curving 3 strides to the first boat (24b) with two strides then to the second boat (24c). The ques- tions at the various water fences are all a bit different but still require good riding and confident horses and the main question here is the turn to the first boat relative to how well they jump in over the log.


The Pratoni Mühle (25) is another let up fence sitting on top of a mound before heading back into the woods to come out to jump the new maximum Holztisch (26).


Very much heading for home but far from finished at this point as they come to the Coffin (27abc). The rails in (27a) are MIM’ed and then after the ditch there is the choice of two tree stumps to jump or a very long alternative over a log. The approach to this fence is everything in terms of pace and setting the horse up properly. It is a classic cross country question and the reason for the two stumps (27c) is to make the riders give their horses a bit more direction should they be wondering which one they think their rider wants them to jump.


The imposing Nord-Pool Jump (28) has always jumped well as they then head towards the last, relatively straightforward, question on the course, the Kombination „close to home“ (29). A run out at the brush corner (29a) would be very frustrating although it should be unlikely. The two barns (29bc) should pre- sent no issue. This combination is here to make riders keep thinking to the end rather than heading for home too quickly, too soon.


Finally, the Longines Final Jump (30) is the one that everyone looks for!


As always, I very much hope that everyone has a good, safe, and enjoyable round. My thanks to everyone involved in setting up and preparing the courses, it is a big task which involves many people who take immense pride in what they do, well done.


Good luck to all!

Mike Etherington-Smith