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With over 200 Grand Prix wins and over three million dollars in prize money, Aaron Vale’s position as one of the most successful riders in American show jumping is secure and well earned. He currently holds the records for most grand prix wins in a year, most double clear rounds in a year, and most money won in a year.
“I never thought about doing anything else,” says Vale of his decision to become a professional
equestrian athlete. Showing since he was 8, Vale rode in his first grand prix at the age of 14. Although he grew up riding, Vale was not one of the privileged few who were showered with expensive ponies and horses to show. Instead he was a frequent catch rider, earning his rides by his show-ring success and his can-do attitude. On borrowed horses, Vale was reserve champion at all three of the nation’s top equitation finals – the AHSA Medal, the ASPCA Maclay and the USET Talent Search.
From those beginnings, Vale has gone on to win hundreds of grand prix and often had several horses in the top ribbons in a single class. In 1997, Vale made history as he swept the top
five places in the $50,000 Grand Prix of Roanoke. A member of two U.S. Developing Riders Tours in Europe, Vale was on the winning Nations Cup team at the CSIO in Drammen, Norway in 2001. In 2005, he rode his way to the top for most prize money earned, winning over $500,000 in Jumper prize money.
Vales' international career highlights include winning the Rikstoto Grand Prix in Norway and the Queens Cup in Barcelona, Spain, as well as winning the first Peca Elendom Trophy Drammen in Norway. Domestically, he has won $100,000 Kings Mills American Jumping Classic and the USET Wellington Cup. Vale has also won the $100,000 Washington International Show Presidents Cup three times, $100,000 Hits Ocala Grand Prix multiple times, $50,000 Indianapolis Grand Prix twice and the $50,000 Roanoke Valley Horse Show Grand Prix a record 13 times!
Vale had a great start to the 2015 season with Quidam’s Good Luck, winning the $50,000 Equine Couture/Tuff Rider Grand Prix at HITS Ocala, followed by victory in the $85,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI2*, and $127,000 Hollow Creek Farm Grand Prix CSI3* at the Kentucky Spring Classic Horse Show. Vale’s success continued throughout the season as he claimed four more Grand Prix wins. The highlight of his year was his victory in richest Hunter class of the year, the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix at HITS Saugerties, for the second consecutive year aboard Dress Balou. He had over 40 top-twelve Grand Prix placings throughout the season.
Vale had another successful season in 2016, but it was also marred by a tragic event. A fire destroyed the Vale family home and though no human lives were lost, the blaze claimed the life of the family’s beloved dog, Roo, along with irreplaceable family mementos and numerous photos, ribbons, and trophies from Vale’s riding career.
Despite the tragedy, Vale maintained focus and continued his winning ways throughout 2016, with victories including the $25,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix, $25,000 Fox Lea Farm Grand Prix, $34,000 Upperville Speed Stake, $40,000 Upperville Welcome Prix, $35,000 Outback Steakhouse Grand Prix, $35,000 EMO Grand Prix, $25,000 CWD Welcome Stake, $50,000 Grand Prix of Michigan, $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix, $50,000 Flintfields Farm Grand Prix, $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, $25,000 Fox Lea Fall Grand Prix, and the YJC 7 Year Old Championship Final. At the Washington International Horse Show, Vale and “Finou 4” tied for first place aboard alongside Olympian McLain Ward in a thrilling Puissance Finale, as both riders produced clear rounds over a seven foot jump! Vale earned 35 plus top 12 Grand Prix placings.
Vale’s 2017 season got off to a great start at HITS Ocala, winning the $41,200 FEI HITS Jumper Classic CSIO4* and he took second place aboard “Finou 4” in the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix.
Vale is married to his wife Mallory and they have a daughter Kisner.