Celebrating a win – Should more events have victory gallops?

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Celebrating a win – Should more events have victory gallops?

You’ve probably seen them at the biggest events in the U.S., like Fair Hill and Kentucky. If you’re not a rider who’s placed in the top 20 at FHI or Rolex or a three-day of that caliber, and unless you’ve done well at the AECs, you haven’t had the wind whip at your smile and the ribbon flap on your horse’s bridle as you canter around the show jumping arena after an event. You haven’t heard the clapping from those watching, congratulating you and your competitors on your weekend.

Instead, these days the collective clapping emerges in the form of reams of comments on Facebook videos or Twitter posts or Instagram photos. The parade around the arena is now strictly virtual and lasts for several hours rather than a few moments.

It’s wonderful that we can celebrate our own and each other’s Eventing achievements via social media. The scope of the message extends to friends, family, and followers who might be halfway across the world from the event. Sharing a win from afar is special and something that we couldn’t do a few years ago.


But what of that victorious feeling as you parade around the arena on your steed? In it there’s both a sense of immediacy—a realization of the events that have just happened—and of community—in those who gallop with you, and recognize both the friendliness and significance of competition in which you’ve all participated. The victory lap also creates admiration from the crowd and an atmosphere of electricity. It’s a way to say “well done” to everyone, including the horses.

How difficult would it be for more events to implement victory gallops? The usual sequence of phases at regular one-day horse trials places cross-country last. It’s obviously not feasible to have a victory gallop after cross-country. But what if more events ran in the traditional order, with show jumping as the final phase? And what if horses jumped in reverse order of standing? This way, directly after the final horse had completed its round, the top eight or ten horses could file into the arena, receive their ribbons, and take a victory lap.

Another complicating factor is the number of professionals with multiple rides. Buck Davidson probably won’t have time to take part in thirteen victory laps on his thirteen horses; he’ll need to go hop on the next one. To solve this problem, events could limit victory laps to amateur and junior divisions to make them more feasible.

What’s your view? Would you like your successes to be recognized with victory gallops at more events?

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