An Equestrian’s Lucky Charms

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Lucky Charms
Carrying lucky charms in your pocket could be just the mental boost you need to have a great ride in your next class.

Some horse showing rituals can be seen as habitual: You put your horse in the same spot on the slant-load trailer; you wear the same breeches every time you show. But some of them can be downright odd, leaving you scratching your head as your barn friend desperately changes the radio station on the way to the show or panics if she’s not first in the order of go.

Clothing and Accessories

Most good luck rituals are based on the thought that you shouldn’t change anything if you’re winning. While this might be true for the training of the horse, a lot of riders take this idea to the extreme and don’t change anything after a big win. This means repeating the process at the next show, which could include wearing the same clothes and accessories:

  • Start with the same underwear and socks (some riders get as detailed as having specific underwear for the individual disciplines in which they ride; like white for dressage, red for showjumping, etc.)
  • Accessorize with specific bracelets, rings or necklaces hidden under a show shirt.
  • Some riders ride with a “lucky penny” in their boot or jacket pocket
  • Specific-colored hair ties
  • Some riders feel that they shouldn’t wear anything new the day of the show or they’re asking for a bad ride. Many of these riders believe that the larger the item, the more serious the bad luck. For example, if the “new” item is something small like new gloves, socks or a hairnet, the “bad ride” might include something minor like a refusal or a runout on course. If the “new” thing is something major like a new coat or helmet, the “bad ride” will include more drastic things, like a fall.

Very Superstitious

Some riders go beyond apparel and look elsewhere for good luck. Some of these might include:

  • Seeing a specific thing is an omen that a good ride will happen; like seeing a cardinal on the way to work or catching their horse napping in the stall.
  • Many riders believe that changing a horse’s name is bad luck and will tarnish their show record for years to come.
  • Yellow shirts in the western show pen are often seen as unlucky.
  • Many riders won’t compete with change in their pocket, fearing that that may be all the prize money they come home with!
  • Show numbers, whether they include a specific digit, are even or are odd can all be construed as lucky or unlucky.

In all reality, a lot of these rituals may do nothing more than calm show-ring jitters, but they can also act as powerful emotional cues, reminding you of a positive emotion or event. If that’s the case, then who cares if you only ride with a navy blue hair tie and white underwear on dressage day?


Sarah E. Coleman lives in Lexington, Ky., and when she shows, carries gold-plated horse shoe nails in her pocket from her heart horse, who was a hunter.

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