Moe the lesson horse

Over the last few months, Moe has been earning his keep as a lesson horse. It’s still surprising to me that he’s pretty good at it.

Toting around a western friend.

You see, I still think of Moe as the sorta spastic, very fast, not-totally-bombproof horse I had years and years ago.

When Moe came to live with me, he came from a barn where he’d been kept inside in the evenings, fed Triple Crown feed, and turned out by himself because other horses chased him. He was 8. My family unceremoniously dumped him in our ~10 acre turnout with our other two geldings, fed him sweet feed, and never stalled him. I remember taking him out to hand graze on the front lawn once; he stepped on his lead rope and tried to move his head. He couldn’t, obviously, so he reared up and hustled backwards, snorting and rolling his eyes.
In college, I had many friends who, upon finding out I had horses stabled in town, wanted to come ride. “I’ve ridden horses before!” they’d say. “You haven’t ridden horses like mine before,” I’d say.
Dutifully showing my student the ropes of dressage.

Inevitably, I’d throw them on Moe because I could trust him to be relatively sensible. I’d always warn my friends that he was basically obedient, but would move very quickly if they squeezed him too hard. Off we’d go down the road, me riding Jethro, my friend riding Moe, and Moe would do his very best to understand what the inexperienced person on his back wanted him to do. Usually, we’d have to turn back pretty quickly from our ride when my friend got scared after Moe started flinging his head in frustration. (What’s a horse to do when someone’s kicking and pulling at the same time?)

When I started teaching lessons, I was nervous to put my student on Moe. She’d had a few years of lessons and was competent, but I could just imagine my enthusiastic horse merrily galloping away with her. He doesn’t mean run off with anyone; he thinks that’s what you want him to do!
Letting Fat QH’s owner get back into the swing of jumping.

I suppose age and experience have mellowed my once-fiery horse. He’s a perfect gentleman on the ground, letting the greenest of horsemen groom him; he carefully lifts each hoof for cleaning so that even Johnny doesn’t feel nervous. Under saddle, he is almost lazy on the flat, as if he knows he shouldn’t go tearing around at top speed. Even over fences he is relaxed, an old pro. He will never have the easy pace and rhythm of a hunter, but a simple half-halt between fences is all that’s needed to check his speed.

It makes my heart happy to see Moe teaching green riders. I remember him teaching me all those years ago: teaching me to love galloping, to trust my horse to get me over the fence, to be confident in my ability as an equestrian. I’m happy to be able to share him with other people so that they can learn those things, too.

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

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