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We Ask the Industry: What Are Some of Your Pre-Horse Show Rituals?

The horse show world is no stranger to superstition. Some people have lucky socks, a good-luck charm on a necklace, or even a single, colored braid in a mane. Sometimes, our “lucky charm” can backfire, so we throw it out, and we find a new one.

Is there one single thing that anyone can do to ensure victory? We will never know. What we do know is that a simple routine can help us feel more focused before going into the arena. As Babe Ruth said, “I had only one superstition. I made sure to touch all the bases when I hit a home run.”

For horse-showing, all the bases are just more opportunities to bring us luck in the arena.

Trinity Packard – I like to visualize the pattern and run it through my head not only before the class, but the night before. This makes me prepared and allows my horse to depend on me to guide him through the pattern correctly. I also give myself a 10-15 minute warm up and hit the grooming “pit stop” before I go in the arena. I always listen to AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top” to get my blood pumping and get my game face on. The last thing I do right before I go in is pat my horse on the neck and thank God for blessing me to be able to do what I love.

Jared Stack
– In the morning while I’m getting showmanship and halter horses ready, I play older top hits that are upbeat such as Whitney Houston’s “Queen of the Night”. This tends to keep everyone’s mind off of their nerves and gives them a song to get stuck in their head. It makes for a positive atmosphere.

Madison Maciejewski – I ride, groom, and show-prep my horse all while listening to my Spotify playlist, “Gameday.” I’m pretty superstitious, so routine is essential to me. I even have a few sets of lucky socks I must always show in. For a regular weekend circuit, I’m pretty calm, but for a Top 10 show or a World Show, I get pretty nervous. Listening to my playlist, talking with my sister, Makayla, about my plan before I show and having plenty of preparation time seems to be a winning combination in keeping me sane when I’m pumped.

Lauren Stanley – Before I show, I like to be the one to longe and saddle my horse, that way I know exactly what type of mood he is in. It helps me prepare him for the day’s events better. When I’m getting dressed, I will try to pick a pump up song to listen to. It’s not always the same song because I’m slightly superstitious that if a song worked once it’s too much pressure on myself and that song to work again. So, I try to mix it up and pick music that has a faster rhythm for me to get into the zone.

Ellexxah Maxwell – I have a playlist on my phone titled “Game Face.” I listen to it when I need to be pumped up for a show. Plus, ask anyone who knows me: a good dance party before you show never hurts.

Alexandria Bryner – Every morning before the start of a show day, I sit for two minutes and drink a Spark while taking some vitamins. Then, I put all the tails in, make sure everyone is ready, and make a game plan for the day. While I’m doing that, I usually have my speaker on streaming the Chili Peppers station on Pandora.


Suzanne Mayo – I know this sounds crazy, but I am superstitious about my morning coffee, especially at world shows or Congress. If I have it with Splenda and a particular flavor creamer, then have a successful day, I must repeat the same thing the next day. If not, a change is needed.

Tali Terlizzi – Farley (McLendon) and I will share a cold beer. It takes the edge off if we’re showing later in the day, of course. (laughs)

Farley McLendon – I make sure I have the necklace with my kids’ names on it. I also put my left boot on first….weird I know.

Alexis Taylor – An essential part of what I do before I show is take a deep breath during the pattern or course of the person in front of me. I say a silent prayer and let it out with all of the negative thoughts and nerves. I finish with a quick pat on my horse’s neck, and I’m ready to go.

Michaela Schrim – While I’m finishing up my makeup and hair, I listen to some rap music to get me pumped up. Before I get my show clothes on, I look to Oceans by Hillsong United to remind me how blessed I am to be able to show and offer my day up to the Lord. I then put on my black bracelet in remembrance of my best friend who died. I also put on a ring with gemstones that my grandparents got me for a graduation gift. To wrap things up, right before I got in the ring, no matter the class, I make a sign of the cross.

About the Author: Sutherlyn Hollabaugh is a senior at Clarion University in Pennsylvania where she majors in Speech Pathology and is minoring in Special Education. She competes in the amateur events with her gelding Getting Alotta Lukes. She also leads her brother, Tanner, in the EWD events.