This past weekend at the Grand Palais in Paris, spectators got to see what is being called one of the most difficult indoor courses anyone has ever seen, and also this scary moment, which fortunately ended without anyone getting hurt:
Henrik von Eckermann was having a cracking round on the very difficult course when upon landing after the double, his right foot appears to go right through the bottom of his stirrup. He makes every effort to save it, but ultimately tumbles to the ground. The elastollan is intended to stretch in the case of a fall, but as far as we cal tell from the product description, it is not intended to break.
We then see an official pick up the broken stirrup and hand it to the shaken and disappointed Henrik, who must make the walk of shame out of the ring.
The stirrups were apparently made by Freejump, a company which specializes in stirrups made of many different components: a flexible outer branch, an elastomer floor, an ABS shell, and a spring steel monobranch. that connects to the leathers. (Nor was Henrik falling or being dragged at the time of the break.)
While it does seem like Henrik came down hard in the stirrups after the fence, it doesn’t appear to be a moment where a standard steel stirrup would have failed.
Freejump immediately issued a statement on the incident:
We, like many, seen the fall of Henrik Von Eckermann yesterday in the Grand Prix du Saut Hermès after his stirrup soft’ up pro broke at the landing of an oxer.
We have not yet been able to make an expert assessment that will allow us to determine the causes of this accident.
Our quality control is extremely strict. All our products are tested for fatigue and failur on a special machine in order to guarantee the quality of the products we sell. We attach great importance to the safety and the reliability of our products which are constantly changing and on which we are making improvements. We do not rule out a problem on this pair, an older model.
We present, of course, our apologies to Henrik, with whom we are in contact and we are sincerely sorry for this incident which hindered his performance in the Grand Prix.
They also included video of their product testing here:
Henrik suffered no major injuries from the incident, and will be competing at the FEI World Cup Final next week in Omaha with Mary Lou 194.
If and when Freejump provides additional insight into the incident, we’ll be sure to bring readers an update.