Astier Nicolas Won Pau, and Then Things Got Weird

European awards ceremonies are always bizarre, fascinating events. They’re not like Rolex, where the riders come out and they give someone a watch and everyone canters around in a circle and goes home. Oh no. European awards ceremonies are events in and of themselves.

I thought Luhmühlen’s awards ceremony this summer was zany. Emphasis on awards, plural: I had a hard time keeping a straight face as they presented winner Ingrid Klimke with an endless parade of objects, each more random than the last: a giant neck wreath (which FRH Escada attempted to eat), artwork, a fruit basket, a broom, a single boot… the list goes on. And then they serenaded her with bagpipes, because… Germany?

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Ingrid: “Oh, you shouldn’t have.”

At the time, New Zealand photographer Libby Law warned me that if I thought German award customs were weird, I ought to see the French. She said they’re really into giving away kitchen appliances: microwaves, toaster ovens, the like.

I didn’t spot any gift-wrapped kitchen appliances at Pau today, but then again I’m not sure in hindsight what it was I saw.

First, as soon as the competition finishes, a jump crew of at least 75-100 people, maybe more, literally runs into the ring and clears it of all the jumps. No kidding — within the span of two minutes, the ring goes from luxe CCI4* show jumping course to Sahara Desert.

And then in come these guys:

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Let’s just have a closer look at those faces.

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I know, guys. I know.

And then some horse drawn carriages come in, carrying important looking people, and shenanigans ensue. There seems to be some sort of plotline going on, but I cannot for the life of me decipher what it is.

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The wagons circle a few times and then exit, at which point the song “Hey Baby,” of 1987 Dirty Dancing soundtrack fame, comes on over the loudspeakers. And everyone starts LINE DANCING. Like, everyone. I get the feeling that I am the only person here who has no idea what is going on.

Finally, the mysterious dancing subsides and out come the top-placed horses. I’m pretty sure they gave everyone matching orange ribbons. Which to my knowledge does not even exist on the horse show ribbon color spectrum.

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Piaf De B’Neville: “Remind me to never win a 4* again.”

And off goes Astier, blazing around the ring at 570 meters per minute about 700 times, leaning off his horse to give people full-speed high fives as he passes. Because that’s totally safe.

I like the official – or whoever – walking by, who’s like, “I’m just going to pretend I didn’t see that.”

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Go French Eventing.

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Kudos again to Mary Hollis Baird for the amazing French GIF.

Pau Links: Website, Entry List, Schedule, Live Scores, Live Stream, FEI TV, Facebook@eventingnation, EN’s Instagram

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