Lucky Charms: Exhibitors Share Their Horse Show Rituals in Honor of St. Patrick’s Day
Luck is word frequently heard around horse shows; you may hear it before you walk into the arena as your trainer wishes you, “Good luck!” or you may hear it walking out of the arena as they say, “Bummer, that was a stroke of bad luck.”
Good, bad, or indifferent, luck is a flighty element of horse showing that we’re always trying to get on our side. Many of us have certain habits, beliefs, or items that we must carry with us when walking into the show pen which we hope bring us luck. Sometimes these superstitions bring us more than luck, however, providing the calming of our nerves and the ability for us to focus on the task at hand.
I find luck and serenity by knowing that my horse is fully prepared before going to a horse show, that way I can have a short warm up before my class. After a brief and fruitful warm up, I always give my horse a gentle pet while I say a prayer as we walk into the arena. We asked fellow exhibitors what their superstitions are which enable them to have a fantastic run.
Maria Salazar, AQHA Exhibitor – I tend to only be superstitious at the bigger shows because otherwise, it gets too exhausting. My big superstitions are bathrooms, socks, and underwear…all very gross. I always use the same stall in the same bathroom at a horse show, until I have a bad go (in a class, not the bathroom), then I must find a new stall. I also wear the same socks at a show until I have a bad day, then I get a new pair. Luckily, I have invested in multiple pairs of the same underwear so that I can be superstitious and hygienic.
Our barn has a Belle (like a Beauty and the Beast Belle) who is very lucky. She travels on the dash of the truck and then sits on our whiteboard. The last two Belles have mysteriously disappeared, and a few conspiracies are floating around. She even has outfits. I realize that all superstitions are crazy, but if you believe in them, that’s all that matters.
Linne Beason, APHA Exhibitor – I wouldn’t say I’m superstitious, but I do have some rituals I always do – it starts before I even leave my house. We keep my horse at home most of the year, so when my mom and I haul her to a show ourselves, we always have to play the song, Country Boy, by Alan Jackson. I’m not exactly sure how it started, but we play it before leaving for a long trip. So far, we have had safe trips without even a blown tire. I guess it’s been lucky for us, so we keep it up. Once at the shows, I have small rituals I do before certain classes. Before the horsemanship, I always have to ask Karen if my reins are even before I enter the ring, or when I set up for the showmanship, I always have to slide my heels on the ground back and forth three times before setting up. I guess those are just quirky things I do to help with the nerves. The one item I always have on me while showing is a ring that my Godmother gave me on my birthday. I always have it on, every time I show.
Cole Gower, AQHA Exhibitor – I don’t have superstitions, but I do have some rituals and items I show with at all the big shows. I have worn the same pair of Logan boots to all my big wins. AQHA World Show globes, Congress reserve title, NSBA World Championships. I’ve resoled them twice now. As a ritual, Skyler (She Made It Happen) and I take a moment as we walk to the gate or wait for the call, to just talk, go over the pattern in my head, and take a breath.
Jessica Lynn Izaguirre, APHA Exhibitor – I always have some “Minnie Pearl” tag situation going on. Usually on the top of my boots or on something somewhere that either my horse or I am wearing. Since I am now the owner and designer of Jessica Lynn Show Apparel, it makes it easier to leave those tags. I’ve done it my whole showing career, not intentionally at first, but now it’s become a tradition. So, if you see me with a clear tag hanging, just leave it – I know it’s there. Also, there will always be Goldfish near my stalls/trailer. It’s my favorite snack I can’t live without, and it’s shareable with my most treasured horse, “Dallas.”
Lauren Graves, AQHYA Exhibitor – Being new to AQHA, I am still working on my successes. A couple of things that I do, however, are I only eat a banana the morning before I show, and I put on my “lucky” socks. Those socks have brought me luck in other areas of my life; now they need to get to “work” on bringing me luck in the show ring. One thing I learned early on is that no matter what, you never blame your horse if things don’t go as planned. You can’t control the outcome in a judged sport. What you can control is your attitude and the way you treat your equine partner.
Megan Holtmyer, ApHC Exhibitor
I have two “good luck rituals.” Putting on my makeup and being dressed and ready to go on time is the first one. I hate to be rushed, and I don’t think I could go into the pen without my “face” on, particularly at the big shows. After I’m dressed with my hair and makeup done, I always ask my trainer, “Does this look ok?” It makes me feel more confident when he says, “Yep, you’re good to go.” The second one is in the hunter under saddle at the big shows; I always have my trainer choose my rat catcher for my shirt. It didn’t start as a good luck thing, but we have begun winning after he picked it out, so I will always ask him from now on.
Parris Rice, AQHA Exhibitor – The first year I won the equitation at the youth world, I hadn’t pulled the dry cleaner tags out of my shirt and hunt jacket. So, now I always leave them in. I also usually have one different colored standing wrap if I wrap my horse. I’m a ‘you create the luck that surrounds you’ kind of person, though.
Stacy Huls, AQHA Exhibitor – I’ve ridden in the same helmet that has a hunk of felt missing out of the top and my Butet saddle is so rough I’ve had people come up to me and say, “I didn’t know Butet made a rough out.” I won’t give up either one because of my superstitions and the luck they both have. I’ve also worn the same white shirt since 2007. I just have new collars made for it. It’s a little questionable…. only a little of the dirt shows. Doesn’t smell very good either.
Courtney Archer, AQHA Exhibitor – I’m actually super superstitious. I have a leather bracelet that has the name, Dynamic All NiteLong (Jay). He was the horse that won me my first world show trophy and truly made me the rider I am today. We had retired Jay and then we met Cheyenne Augsburger (Scoot) in 2013. Up until that point, I was the only one who had ever shown Jay in the Non-Pro classes. I said the only one that I would ever pull Jay out of retirement for would be Scoot. Her very first show on Jay was in Virginia and that’s where she gave me the leather bracelet with his name on it. From that day on, I never step foot in the show pen without that bracelet.
Brittany Russel, APHA Exhibitor – I guess you could say I’m a pretty superstitious person. Yellow is bad luck, don’t put your hat on the bed, if you break a mirror, you’ll have seven years bad luck, or if a black cat crosses your path, it’s not good. For horse showing, though, it’s a little different ballgame. I am really big on music; about an hour or so before I show, I will start up the tunes. I feel it’s a way for me to just drown everything out and focus on what I can do better and how I am going to prepare myself and my horses in the best way possible. It enables me to relax and get rid of any anxiety I may have built up and see things from a clearer point of view.
Jeanne McNerney, AQHA Exhibitor – I have a specific necklace that I wear for good luck when I show. The pendant actually has the ashes of my first show horse, Carly (Shaded Zippo) in it. It feels comforting knowing she’s still with me every time I step into the show pen, and I always have her close to my heart. You’ll never see me walk into the pen without wearing it.
Kendra Whitney, AQHA Exhibitor – I do have a couple of small things that I do before I go in the show pen. When I stand at the cone, whether it’s in western riding or trail, I always give him a pat on either side of his neck. Just as a quick, “We got this.” I also always wear a necklace and bracelet that has his name on it. My necklace says, Tommy and my bracelet has his show name, Tommy Lee Loper, engraved on it. I always wear them.
Charles Lee, AQHYA Exhibitor – I have some rituals that I usually do before the show even begins. Early in the morning, I eat chorizo and egg tacos for breakfast. Living in deep South Texas and being of Hispanic descent, I have grown up with chorizo and egg tacos. When we travel to shows outside of the area, we take the brand Chorizo de San Manuel which is the best chorizo. (P.S. it MUST be this brand. When we went to Oklahoma, we assumed we could get the chorizo elsewhere. Boy, were we wrong. We now travel with it as part of our ritual.) Also, my dad and I walk through the pattern before every class. Finally, before I go in to show, my dad and I will fist bump before every run. My dad also does not watch me from the stands, rather, he watches me from the alleyway. When I went to Australia as part of Team USA, my mom continued the traditions, with the exception of the chorizo. Thank God for technology, because my dad and I had the ability to virtually fist bump before my runs.
Emily Hudson, AQHA Exhibitor – I don’t really have any superstitions for success. I believe hard work, practice, and determination are key. I do however have two very special rings that I wear. Before I walk in the show pen, I always have to make sure they are straight which may sound silly as I am probably the only one that sees them. I am just very particular about things being in place. I also like to scratch my horse on the neck before I walk in the pen. I feel like it gives him reassurance and lets him know that he’s being a good boy.
Gabi Salamone, AQHA Exhibitor – My horse show ritual is that I always have to use the same hair tie when I’m getting ready to go show. I wear a Henri Bendel hair tie on my wrist at all times. I haven’t taken it off for years. Even though my caboodle is full of perfectly good ponytail holders, I never use them. I opt for the same one every single time I ride my horse. Anything else just wouldn’t be the same.
Johnna Letchworth, AQHA Exhibitor – Whenever I am the next one to the cone in any pattern class, I run through the pattern in my head. I visualize the whole pattern and how I hope it will go. Sometimes, it does not go as I originally planned it in my head, but by doing this, I know when I go to the cone that I have a game plan and I always feel ready.
Chelsea Carlson, AQHA Exhibitor – If there was one item I would be wearing at a big show, it would be a custom bracelet I received from a client. It’s nothing too fancy, just one of those nice, padded, leather straps with my logo embroidered on a silver piece attached to it. My client surprised me with it as a gift while at Congress and I wore it when she placed 4th in the pleasure there. Since then, I always wear it on a big day at a show. I would say it’s been pretty lucky. It is just a good reminder to be proud and believe in myself and my program.
While we may not be able to predict the outcome of every event we enter, we can do our best to create an atmosphere of focused luck before walking into the pen. So, before you head to your next show, double check to make sure you packed your lucky necklace or take the time to stop by that lucky restaurant in town. Who knows, that may be just the extra stroke of luck that you need to succeed.
About the Author: Lauren Crivelli Stanley of Tulare, California got hooked on horses at a very young age and never looked back. Through the support of her family and friends, she has allowed this passion to evolve and has learned to express this passion through writing. She can be found in the show ring aboard her two roan horses in the All Around and Ranch Versatility events.