Saturday, April 16, 2011

Victory Gallop Etiquette

The victory gallop, used as part of the ribbon presentation for important jumper classes, might seem pretty simple when viewed from outside of the ring. The horses all gallop around the ring in order of their placings and then go back to their stalls, right? Well, that's not quite all there is to it. There is some etiquette that you should be aware of before participating in your first victory gallop.

First, you should allow the winner of the class to enter the ring first for the ribbon presentation. Usually, all of the riders who have placed will assemble in the ring before the presentation begins (you may either halt your horse or walk around - it's up to you). Generally, all of the riders will hang back from the in-gate to allow the winner to enter first, regardless of the order in which the placings will be announced. The in-gate person will normally keep track of the placings in order for you to know whether to stick around for the presentation. Make sure that you keep all of your formal attire on for the presentation.

Once all of the ribbons have been given, the announcer will usually ask the riders to begin the victory gallop. The winner always leads the gallop, and is the one who will set the pace. None of the other riders should begin to gallop before the winner has started. The remaining riders should follow in the same order as their placings. Sometimes, a rider will choose not to take part in the victory gallop or is not comfortable having other horses behind theirs. In such a case, you might be invited to pass them, but passing is a no-no otherwise. If you are near the end of the line and the pace has slowed, you might even need to trot to keep from passing anyone in front of you. The person in front of you going slower than you would like is not a reason to pass unless they tell you to!

The horses who have placed second and lower will generally complete one lap of the ring before exiting, while the winner will sometimes continue on to do another lap or half-lap alone. Sometimes the winner will need to remain in the ring for photos, so if you have won, make sure that there is no one waiting there for you before you leave! You may leave the ring in any order. Some riders will take longer than others to pull up, so after the end of your one lap the order will often fall to pieces anyway and you are not expected to make an attempt to keep it. Always come back to a walk before exiting the ring for safety's sake. If your horse is excited and will not walk, you may circle as many times as you need to within reason in order to stop your horse.

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