Comments by Stephan Ellenbruch on Tempo de Paban accident in the CSI 5* in Prague

Stephan Ellenbruch en 2014 au Forum des sports de la FEI.
Credit : Germain Arias-Schreiber/FEI

Saturday 07 December - 21h06 | Sebastien Roullier et Marion Mauger

Comments by Stephan Ellenbruch on Tempo de Paban accident in the CSI 5* in Prague

Stephan Ellenbruch has agreed to answer GRANDPRIX's questions in writing about Tempo de Paban’s accident during the Global Champions League play-offs on what was probably a poor quality floor two weeks ago in Prague. Contacted on Monday, the German 4* judge, president of the jury of this CSI 5* but also president of the International Equestrian Federation's show jumping committee, gave his account, deploring Olivier Robert's serious crack injury, but considering that he had done his best to solve the problems posed by the ground, in good understanding with the other stakeholders in this event.  

''It was very sad that Olivier Robert’s horse Tempo de Paban sustained a severe injury during the warm-up session in Prague on 27 November. 
 
There were three arenas at the event where horses were able to exercise: a small ring in the stables, a large warm-up arena, and the competition arena itself. Prior to the warm-up session, which was the first time that the horses were able to access the competition arena, the Ground Jury did not receive any negative comments about the footing in either of the two training arenas even though these had been open for flatwork for several hours prior to the warm-up session.
 
On Wednesday morning, before the start of the event, the Ground Jury toured the whole facility, including all three arenas, and saw horses working on the flat in both training arenas. At that time, there was no indication that the footing was anything but normal.
 
During any official warm-up or training session, horses have the opportunity to enter the competition arena. Some athletes choose to jump, others only to do flatwork, and if the athletes have not arrived at the venue, it is also possible for their grooms to do flatwork with the horses. The warm-up session in Prague was no different from any other warm-up session.
 
When Mr Robert’s horse went lame in the competition arena, the treating vet entered the arena and the horse was walked out to the small waiting area immediately adjacent to the competition arena. Although Mr Robert never approached any Ground Jury member to discuss the injury sustained by his horse, we were advised by the veterinary team that the horse was subsequently taken to the stables in the horse ambulance and that diagnostic and treatment procedures were initiated. 
 
There was a three-hour training session for both flatwork and jumping for the 5* and the 2* horses in the competition arena the following morning, and it was after this that some athletes mentioned to the Ground Jury that they felt there were some issues with the footing. 
 
The Ground Jury discussed the situation with the Organising Committee, the Course Designer and the footing contractor and it was decided to introduce several footing breaks in both the competition and warm-up arenas in the two 5* competitions on Thursday. The footing contractor decided to add material that was not immediately available and had to be brought in specially, thus requiring him to work on the ground overnight. The Course Designer also agreed to modify the courses to reduce the technical difficulty. 
 
As the event progressed and work on the ground advanced, the footing continued to improve. On Friday, there were ongoing conversations with athletes and all other relevant parties where possible changes to the format of a minor scheduled competition were discussed and subsequently adopted with the agreement of all involved. The Course Designer adopted the same principles as the day before when developing the course for the main competition. 
 
The competitions on Saturday and Sunday were run under significantly improved footing conditions.
 
Equine welfare is paramount to the FEI and footing is a key element for healthy high performance horses. Back in 2007 the FEI made a strategic investment in research and development of biomechanics and footing for equestrian sports. The FEI Footing Project has since then produced standards, education and a network to facilitate optimal footing at equestrian events. At major FEI events such as the FEI World Equestrian Games, European Championships and Longines FEI World Cup Finals the footing is carefully prepared and objectively evaluated by leading experts. The implementation timeline for the FEI Footing Standard across all CSI 5* events is currently being finalized.''

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