Wind, pandemic alter Gignilliat ride

Jan Garrison

No flags, no speaker


November 16, 2020

The high winds on Sunday afternoon didn’t stop the Gignilliat ride and ceremony, but the combination of the weather and coronavirus pandemic did force some alternations to the five-year-old event.

Members of Culver Academies' Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes rode from the Vaughn Equestrian Center to the Culver Masonic Cemetery on the southwest side of town to lay a wreath at the grave of Gen. Leigh Gignilliat.

It was the former commandant-turned-superintendent who brought horses to the boarding school in 1897, got the Black Horse Troop in its first Presidential Inaugural Parades in 1913 and 1917, and conducted the forerunner of the Veterans Day Ceremony at the Legion Memorial Building dedication in 1924.


The Equestriennes prepare to leave the Jud Little Riding Hall.


The parade and ceremony commemorate Gignilliat’s death on Oct. 30, 1952, as well as marking Veterans Day. Gignilliat is known for his work in preparing soldiers for World War I. His book, “Arms and the Boy,” goes into detail on that preparation. He also served during the war.

During an election year, the parade also serves as practice for the riders and horses under the same conditions they might experience on their potential ride down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20.

But it is unlikely the riders will experience the wind gusts they faced on Sunday. The Troopers did not carry American flags as in years past because of the high winds. There was no featured speaker because of the social gathering time commitment.

The Troopers and Equestriennes also remained mounted during the laying of the wreath and the playing of taps, allowing their horses to provide the social distancing needed. Everyone wore face masks.

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