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?
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:
Let’s just have a closer look at those faces.
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.
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.
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.”
Go French Eventing.
Kudos again to Mary Hollis Baird for the amazing French GIF.