The Etiquette of Cheering: Or, is he whooping or having a seizure?


Look, I am a whooper. I come from a long line of whoopers. My mother can whoop with the best of them, my sister has a whistle that will break glass. My family whoops at graduations, hockey games, even the particularly tastey Thanksgiving meal. At any random time, you may hear a “whooo, whoooo, whooooo” rising from our house. We love to cheer, make noise, celebrate success.

But, my lord, what is going on at the ingate these days? I was judging with another official for a big class, and the sounds coming from the ingate sounded positively violent. A horse finished its round and it sounded like people were being tazed at the ingate. Not the normal volume and sound but screeching and screaming like pain was being inflicted, like someone said to the guy, “Turn your head and cough.”

The other judge and I turned to each other and asked, “Why?” Why has cheering evolved to screaming at the top of your lungs? Are they cheering for the round that must surely be beyond any expectation? Like it’s a 100 score? 

Are they cheering for the rider they trained because he or she improbably, against all odds, got around the course?

Are they cheering so that the numbnuts judges realize that this was a good round? Because we would not have known the value of it without the cacophony of noise? Because we need to know who the trainers involved with that particular horse are? Will we adjust our scores accordingly? I think not. 

If I sound hypocritical, I apologize. I love to celebrate the end of a great round that took a lot of time and toil to produce, not to mention the stars aligning perfectly during that eight jump course. But, can we distinguish between a whoop and a scream? Is there a decibel level that we can agree on? I am sure that there is a rule proposal in here somewhere…

Dear USEF,

I would like to propose a rule change restricting any sounds from the ingate after a horse has completed the course over the level of a mother giving birth. Of course, we could also include for further elucidation, the sound of a dog being stepped on or an infant on an airplane. The proponents of this rule are anyone within earshot and licensed officials who are easily distracted. 

Thank you for your consideration,