Show Jumping

Andy Kocher Is Growing a Playoff Beard

©Kathy Russell Photography

There are hairs sprouting on Andy Kocher’s chinny chin chin and he’s not shaving them off until he wins, so says the World Cup finalist.

Tearing a page from the sport superstitions playbook, the American show jumper is turning to atypical tactics to turn his luck around in the ring. He’s growing a playoff beard.

“I’m growing this thing out until I win something big, like they do in every other sport,” said the 35-year-old rider. “I’m going to grow this thing out until I win a four or five star!”

©Horse Network

Started in the 1980s by the New York Islanders, the playoff beard is a superstitious practice wherein male athletes refrain from shaving their beards during playoffs season until they win or are eliminated. The questionable ritual is practiced in nearly all North American hockey leagues, including high school and NCAA teams.

It is not practiced in show jumping. Until now.

Kocher is putting his own twist on the tradition. While historically reserved for high pressure championships, there are no time or length limits on his chin garden: “It could be growing for 20 years at the rate I’m going!” confessed Kocher.

Or, it could be this week.

Riding Dundee, Kocher posted the fastest clear round time in the $8,000 CSIO5* 1.40m Warm-Up competition at the Palm Beach Masters Series in Wellington, FL on Wednesday. The win is proof, he says, that his plan is already working.

“I can’t get any girls to go out with me anymore with the beard thing and all. So I have a lot more time to focus on my job and I think I’m doing a lot better the last two weeks,” said Kocher.

“It worked for the Patriots!”