I think it’s safe to say that horse people tend to be a bit of a superstitious bunch. At the very least most of us tend to at least be believers in luck, or karma. 

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I had never really realized just how prevalent this was until I started listening to the Major League Eventing podcast, and they always ask each interviewee if they have any good luck charms, rituals, or superstitions. Damn, I had no idea how many people are having to put their left boot on first at shows. This was a new one to me, yet so many people have said it. Where does that even come from?

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There are other seemingly common things too, like lucky socks/underwear, a lucky whip, not wearing anything new at a show, having to listen to a certain song, put things on in a certain order, or folks who insist on having an even number of braids. And of course we’ve all heard that it’s unlucky to change a horse’s name, or the old

One white foot, buy him.

Two white feet, try him.

Three white feet, be on the sly.

Four white feet, pass him by.

While I don’t believe that one at all, and I am not into such level of detail as which boot I put on first (lets just be glad I remembered to put them on at all, and that they’re hopefully on the right feet), I do have a few little things that I admit to doing.

a correctly placed horseshoe

Big confession – an upside-down horse shoe (heel pointing down) bothers me juuuuuust enough to where I compulsively have to turn them all right side up. The saying is that if they’re upside down, all the luck will fall out. Granted, there is also another saying that if it’s the other way, all the luck in the shoe falls out onto the owner. I dunno about y’all but I want my horses and barn to keep all the luck, and for some reason that dumb thing I heard as a kid has wormed it’s way deep into my psyche to where I will absolutely flip a shoe the other way if I see it. I can’t even help it now. 

best socks ever created

I also definitely do have lucky socks, at least for cross country. I used to get a new pair every year, themed juuuuust the right way (like my “carpe the fuck out of this diem” socks or my “thou hast balls” socks), but for the past few years I’ve been wearing my Henry XC face socks. Those are pretty great, albeit looking pretty worn by now. I’ve already thought about the fact that I’ll have to get new lucky socks for showing Presto, because he needs his own special magic, and yes I am aware of the fact that this makes me a lunatic. 

I don’t have lucky socks for lessons or the other two phases, but I definitely will avoid socks that I think might have the wrong juju. For example, my “ringmaster of the shitshow” socks… they have never, and will never, be worn to a lesson or a horse show, lest they prove to be true (we will ignore the fact that a shitshow has occurred on more than one occasion even without the socks being involved). 

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I also don’t like to use anything new at a show, and if I do find myself in that position, I will touch said item to the ground. Like… new whip? It’s gotta touch the ground first. New gloves, same. New anything. This makes no logical sense except in my own mind, but I know I’m not the only one that does this. And the one time I forgot to do it, I fell off, which clearly just confirmed my psychosis. It’s like if the item has already touched the ground once, it won’t be in such a hurry to get back there again? I don’t know, I can’t explain it because it’s not logical. I know it’s not logical, but I can’t stop myself from performing the act anyway. Because, ya know… 

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I’ve definitely got a little bit of the crazy in me. I feel like horses do that to most of us, sooner or later. I know the things I do are ridiculous and really do nothing but make me feel like I have some extra measure control over a situation’s outcome, but just on that .000001% chance… I gotta try. I also do a lot of knocking on wood. Because horses have beaten down my soul. If luck is a thing, I will take what I can get.

What about y’all… any superstitions or rituals either at shows or at home that you find yourself doing, or “lucky” pieces of equipment/clothing? Please tell me I’m not the only one. 

26 thoughts on “Superstitions

  1. A friend convinced me that color has power. So I have to be wearing particular colors on particular days to ride well that day. And the horse has to have his color as well.

    And socks are critical.

    I didn’t have that horseshoe thing before reading your post, but I think I just caught it.


  2. One of my friends asked me for a horseshoe, because she wanted to add it to a collection of pictures and stuff she was putting on her wall. I was like awwww, so cute. Then I was at her house and saw that she had put it up upside down (I am also a firm believer in keeping the luck “in”). Fortunately she loves me despite my OCD and she fixed it, even though her hubs had to touch up the paint afterwards 😉


  3. The version I’ve heard is
    One white sock buy him
    Two white socks try him
    Three white socks deny him
    Four white socks and a white nose –
    hit him in the head and throw him to the crows.
    Isn’t there a horse racing superstition about throwing newly gelded testicles onto the barn roof?
    If they stick the horse will be speedy. And the horseshoe thing clearly makes sense ;D


  4. Feed buckets have to be in the right order with the names facing out. If a horse is not at home for some reason (show, clinic, vet visit) their spot in the order is left open. I call it missing man formation — it is what ensures they come home safely again.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m superstitious about self fulfilling prophecy names… 8^[ IE, there’s a horse in our barn named Rascal.. well, when I handle him, I don’t want him to be rascally, so I call him Raz. So dumb. lol!


  6. We don’t say the S word (show) around the horses. Years ago every time we talked about going to a show during a lesson, my old TB gelding would pull a shoe or go lame within a week. Now planning is done via texts or in the tack room.


  7. My uncle is super obsessed about horseshoes being the “right” way up! He asks me every time I see him if the ones in my barn are the right way (they are, of course!) I was at a garage sale with my uncle years ago and the owner had a horse shoe the wrong way and my uncle wouldn’t go into the barn/garage!

    I’m pretty good though with other superstitions – I’ve changed two horses names and had no issues. 😉


  8. I’m not overly superstitious, but regarding doing things in a certain order I always do feet picking/horse boots in this order: front left, back left, back right, front right. I don’t feel like it’s a superstition thing, its just how I always do it.


  9. I will admit to the horseshoe thing too lol. I suppose mine aren’t necessarily superstitions as more of, ah, OCD-ness? lol Like if I were to have an even number of bands it’s because I just don’t want odd numbers that day. As far as other superstitions tho, I do sometimes do the “knock on wood” or jokingly “don’t jinx it” but other than that I’m not superstitious at all when it comes to showing or lessons lol


  10. Horse shoes must point up!

    Not wanting to use or wear new things at a show has some logic. It might feel or handle a little differently, even if it isn’t consciously noticeable.


  11. I didn’t think I had any superstitions, but then I realized that I recently rode in a lesson without tucking my hair into my helmet (which I only started doing for lessons about 2 years ago because the old lesson barn required it). I had a GREAT ride that day, so I’ve ridden every lesson since without tucking it in and have had some really good breakthroughs.

    Also, for me, the changing the name thing depends on the situation they were in before. If they were in a good home, there is probably no need to change it. Promise’s name when she was purchased was Expression, which I didn’t mind at all. But, when I met her as a 2 year old, she had been beaten and was terrified of people. So, we changed her name to give her a new beginning.


  12. 1. I never say goodbye to my horses, I say “goodnight.” Goodbye feels like it is begging for trouble. Last night, while saying goodbye to my horse, a lesson student’s dad that I have never met, cheerily replied ‘goodbye’ back to me. Guess he didn’t realize we talk to our horses like they are people (even though I very clearly and very loud said ‘goodbye, Pete-Pete’)

    2. I will not discuss crashes or injuries before a ride…or while riding. It’s a time honored tradition to recount the crashes, near misses, injuries on the way to the show. I don’t do it anymore. After my first serious injury, I couldn’t do it anymore…too many flashbacks. So, we wait for that talk for on the way home or after the ride.


  13. In competitive trail, we wear vests (pinnies) with our competition number. We have the option to buy a specific number (as long as it corresponds with the division we ride in), which comes in handy because then you can paint/iron it onto clothes instead of wearing the regulation one-size-fits-none vest. I purchased number 12: entirely because the first time I won a blue ribbon, my number that weekend happened to be 12. It’s worked out, I’ve won 3 more blue ribbons since, and a National Championship…..

    I also play AC/DC while bathing my horse for a show or competitive ride. This is because, years ago, I was wandering through the barns at the Draft Horse portion of the National Western Stock Show (a big horse/livestock show in Denver, there are classes for everything like show cattle, hunter/jumpers, western rail classes, reining, trail course challenges, rodeos, etc etc). The Young Living 8-horse Percheron team was prepping (which involves a lot of braiding and harness cleaning) for their class and blasting AC/DC. They won that class, as well as some of their smaller hitch classes that day. I’ve since learned that the AC/DC is their superstition (they do it every year), and I figure, if it works for them……


  14. I have a lovely fancy (and expensive) bridle I never use, simply because I’ve had bad shows every time I’ve used it. A saddle blanket in that category too. I justify it to myself by saying I’m probably subconsciously worried it’s uncomfortable for the horse and that’s why he went poorly, and even though I’ve checked thoroughly I’m inadvertently reinforcing that if I use it. Plan is to use them at some smaller shows until he goes well, which will ‘break the curse’. Yes, I can hear myself sounding like a crazy person, *sigh*.

    The horseshoe thing, definitely.I also tend towards horse names with 6 or 8 letters, based on many famous and successful jumpers with 6 or 8 letter names. Clearly that’s all it takes to do well, is name the horse correctly…

    Seeing magpies while driving to a show drives me nuts, because if I see a single one, I’m tempted to drive around to see a pair as I don’t want to have only seen one, as obviously then I’m doomed for the whole show!

    I’m probably also now going to catch some of the ‘habits’ from the other commenters! Normally I’m a person of science and logic in literally every other aspect of my life. All the crazy is being sucked into the gravitational black horse hole.


  15. Oh lord, where do I start… I DEFINITELY have “my things!” I guess these are all pre-ride operations. Must always put on left shoe, including riding boots, first. Must put on left half-chap first. Must wear diamond stud earrings to ride (used to be some horseshoe earrings, but then I had a bad fall while wearing those, so…nope. Though I do also wear pearls at shows and they’ve been okay so far, *knock on wood*). Must follow usual grooming and tacking routine or I’ll forget to do stuff, like put on the horse’s boots. Must have a show number with at least one 3 in it, if at all possible (I have made secretaries dig in the pile, yes they love me. LOL). There are probably more but these are the ones I can think of!

    Of course horseshoes must always be UP and I have them in several places, even in my work cube. Nothing says “horse person” like a real, nicely-worn shoe!


  16. OMG yes to not wearing or using something at a show b/c it’s cursed!!!! I have also done the whole “break the curse” at smaller shows, lessons, rides, etc and it seems to work most of the time 🙂

    I am an extremely superstitious person and I blame my horse Johnny for this. I never knew when we were going to have a bad ride and if we did I would think of what I did to “break” the good ride streak. Most rides with him were good but there were a few where all the pieces would just crumple apart (not b/c of behavior, he was always perfect that way). A few years later I did have scientific evidence on why we’d have random really bad days (he had a pinched spinal cord) but I’m sure it was also b/c I shaved my legs during the show and that caused me to fall off (yes it got that bad) The good thing is I was only that crazy with Johnny and with other horses I’m only just normal type of superstitious 🙂


  17. With you on the horse shoes. Won’t buy stuff no matter how pretty if the shoes go the wrong way.
    And I usually stick to a particular belt for showing. But I’m thinking about replacing it now that I have a whole new herd. And showing will be new again really. Starting fresh I guess?
    Otherwise nothing too crazy from me. But I definitely believe in Karma and luck. I’m just not fully sure how to attain good of each.
    You can get some Presto socks from Dreamers and Schemers… perhaps Captain Umipresto should be on those…


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