For the past 40 years, Pedro Cebulka has been the colorful character leading riders to the ring at the biggest equestrian events in the world—sometimes in heels. Here he shares his penchant for dramatic entrances, as told to Carley Sparks.
I had always the fright when I got on the stage.
I had the fright that somebody would take the microphone away and kick me off!
It’s the opposite of normal people. I don’t know, I’ve just always enjoyed performing. When I see people smiling, when I see the riders smiling, the audience smiling, for me, that’s a job well done.
Being Ringmaster is a very simple job.
I work at International horse shows. I have to bring the horses and riders safely into the ring on time. Oh, and the most important part, I have to be really, really good looking.
It all started about 40 years ago. I came to Canada, a country I’d always wanted to visit, and found a true paradise for horses—Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta. It was just beginning back then. I ended up being a carpenter helper.
After a few days, I was mucking out stalls, painting lines in the parking lot. At the time, it was so small, everybody did everything. I did some course building for Pamela Caruthers. I did some announcing in German and Spanish.
We had a lot of fun.
When I left Spruce Meadows in ’86, the Southern family asked me to come back to be Ringmaster. I knew all the riders, all the grooms. They needed somebody they would respect to bring them into the ring on time and safely.
I wore a suit to work back then, if you can imagine that.
The dressing up began 30 years ago with a pink tropical helmet made out of mesh fabric. I found in Hawaii. I thought, Oh, that’s funny, it’s pink! In those days, real men wouldn’t wear pink. But I put it on and went to the in gate.
The reaction was great. People said, “Wow, that’s really different!” It brought the atmosphere up and from there is just went crazier and crazier.
My signature hat, to this day, is a top hat that the London Circus Director ordered but never picked up. George Tidball—his family owns Thunderbird—he saw the hat and he became my first investor. His family still own part of the hat.
I have different themes for every show. It’s really hard to pick a favorite outfit.
When I was at the 2014 London Olympics, I dressed head to toe in Union Jacks. Union Jack shoes, socks, underwear, pantyhose, pants, belt, shirt, bow tie. Everything. It was special.
In Qatar, in 2008, Prince Abdullah Al Saud gave me a beautiful Arabian outfit. I’ve seen the exact outfit since on Royalty in Saudi Arabia.
I was in Malaysia for the 2006 World Cup Final. I picked a traditional Malaysian outfit. The official color for the King of Malaysia is yellow, so when he’s in the house no one is allowed to wear yellow. My outfit? Yellow. We asked permission and he agreed, it’s okay if Pedro the Ringmaster wears yellow today.
Those are nice memories over the years. If I had a better memory, I’d tell you more.
Now, I’m really lucky to have the support of Animo. Alberto Vriz is a master designer. He’s very creative. He designed red tails for me and pink tails. For World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, he made black tails with hundreds of colorful dots on it. It’s just beautiful. I have blue tails for JustWorld International, my charity.
Those are my signature outfits.
When I come here for the Longines L.A. Masters, I have done different ones over the years—Maria Antoinette, Napolean, the Marquis de Chantilly.
Last year, Christophe Ameeuw (the director of EEM) decided to do something very special.
He’s good friends with Franco Dragone, the Italian designer. Franco was part of Cirque du Soleil for many years. Now he has a company, Dragone. They do the Lido in Paris, the House of Dancing Water Macau. They’ve designed for Celine Dion and Madonna.
For me, they did three outfits. They’re all spectacular! And if they bring a smile to the riders face and make their job a little less stressful, well, then I’ve done my job.
Tune in to the L.A. Masters live stream at 2:00pm PT Sunday to find out what show jumping’s favorite Ringmaster is wearing for the Longines Grand Prix CSI5* !