Behind the scenes at Dolly Parton’s Stampede

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Dolly Parton’s Stampede features 32 horses as part of the show cast. It takes hours of work before the show even begins to get the horses stage-ready.

Show Host Jay Teter arrives more than an hour before the show to groom his horse, including 20 minutes of warm-up laps around the arena without the music and lights.

“Argento is pretty cool. He is an Andalusian- most of the horses that we use here on the show are quarter horses. So for a lot of the tight maneuvers we do and taken off fast and stop and fast and all the different kinds of things we do, quarter horses are the best in the world at that,” said Teter.

Teter said in his more than 20 years at the Stampede, he’s worked with three to four different horses; each comes with its own personality.

“He doesn’t really have that tough job. He gets to stand around and look pretty and carry me around for like two acts of the show. He’s a little fancier than the rest of them. He knows it. He’s got a little bit of an attitude and acts a little bit like a toddler sometimes, but he’s a lot of fun to work with and can do some really cool things that a lot of the quarter horses can’t even do,” added Teter.

Teter calls the 32 horses you see in the show athletes just as much as their human riders.

The riders have to work with each other and the horses to pull the entire show together.
The riders have to work with each other and the horses to pull the entire show together.(Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

Kimberly Maynard started with the Stampede as a teenager and now this has become her career to make sure the horses are show ready.

“I literally love what I do. So getting to come here every day and work with the cast and the horses is just a dream come true. And the horses have a lot of care; obviously that goes with him. So it’s a lot of responsibility for sure because we want them to be in the utmost health,” said Maynard.

While some in the cast have just one horse, others like the trick riders could have up to three and each they have to keep calm through the entire show.

The Stampde features 32 horses and a four-course feast.
The Stampde features 32 horses and a four-course feast.(Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

“Sometimes there is something unusual they see in the arena that they don’t, you know, get too worked up and you can call them back down. There’s a lot of times as many times as he’s seen the big wagons in the show if he feels like they’re coming at him he gets real tense and I have to kind of call him back now and go it’s okay you know you’re gonna be fine,” said Teter

Dolly Parton’s Stampede is filled with friendly North and South competition, thrilling horse riding stunts, spectacular special effects, phenomenal musical productions, plus a mouth-watering four-course feast complete with a delicious dessert.

Host Jay Teter has worked at Dolly Parton's Stampede for more than 20 years.
Host Jay Teter has worked at Dolly Parton’s Stampede for more than 20 years.(Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

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