Moe’s Number One Fan

When I pulled up to the barn yesterday afternoon, I saw the barn manager’s daughter helping a teenage girl lunge a stumpy, reluctant Appaloosa gelding. As I headed out to catch Moe, the teenager had climbed aboard the horse and was doing her best to post the trot while the gelding trudged along. By time I’d brushed and tacked Moe, the girl was ready to cool her horse out; barn manager’s daughter had pulled out a cranky grey gelding and the two were going to to take a stroll around the farm.

When Moe and I emerged from the barn, the girl squealed with glee and said, “Oh my gosh, he’s so beautiful!” I looked around, certain she must be talking about some other horse. But no, Moe was the only one around.

Shark fin withers.

You think it’s just the way he’s standing. It’s not.

Much like my Aunt Sheila, he blinks for almost every picture.

After talking to her for a few minutes, I discovered her name was Elizabeth. She is a seventh grader who began riding last year; the stumpy Appaloosa, Spartan, is her very first horse. Seeing Moe’s polo wraps and figure-8 noseband prompted her to ask if we competed in cross-country. I replied that yes, Moe and I were eventers, which meant we did dressage, cross-country, and show-jumping. Elizabeth squealed again and said, “You guys are like…my idols!”

I managed not to burst out laughing, because I know exactly how she feels.
My first memory of Pony Club was right after I joined at age 11. My parents and I were spectating at the club’s fall horse trial. It was a big deal: the club ran Baby Green through Preliminary divisions and the unrecognized two-day event frequently boasted more than fifty entries. One reason we had so many participants is because we had an excellent cross-country course at a county park. It was a long, looping course that always started uphill and ended going downhill toward the finish line. 
Ingrained in my mind is the memory of watching the Preliminary riders thundering down the last part of the course. Let me try to describe it for you: At the top of the hill was a three-sided bank. The end sections were modest drops, ranging from 2′ to 2’9 or so. The middle section was a 3’6 drop that landed you on a perilously vertical hill. (Years later, I would fall from Moe and earn my first stitches on that bank.) Upon landing from the bank, riders continued downhill to a jump named The Cannons. The Cannons were aptly named. They were built into the side of the hill. The jump itself wasn’t especially tall, but they were long logs jutting out from the hill. They had the effect of launching you down the remainder of the hill toward the finish line at a very high rate of speed.
Here’s an illustration. It was a very yeehaw section of the course.
Watching riders a few years older than me conquer these terrifying obstacles while going very, very fast left me in awe. I idolized several older Pony Club girls and aspired to one day ride as well as they could, have a horse as sleek and fast as theirs, jump as fearlessly. I admired them to no end, even though they weren’t headed to the Olympics or Rolex any time soon.
So instead of laughing at Elizabeth, I smiled, patted Moe, and said, “I’ve had him for eleven years; we’re a good team.” 
I accompanied her and her instructor on their walk, answering questions about if her short Appy could be an eventer (yes), what is my number one tip for dressage (shoulders back), and what’s Moe’s favorite snack (donuts). When they were finished, I let her hop on Moe and walk him around for about five minutes. He placidly ambled along without a care in the world. When Elizabeth hopped off, her eyes were shining and she had a huge grin on her face. She proclaimed him the nicest horse she’d ever ridden and told me she was bringing him donuts this weekend.
So my camel-humped, undersized, awkward looking elderly horse has a fan who thinks he’s beautiful and talented and perfect in every way. And I, a somewhat overweight, T-Rex armed amateur equestrian who’s never competed over Training level, have a fan who thinks I’m right up there with Karen O’Conner. 
I guess this means I’ll have to be a good role model and stop peeing in empty stalls (hey, there’s no bathroom out there) and swearing so much. But I’m okay with that.


6 thoughts on “Moe’s Number One Fan”

  • I don't remember idolizing anyone when I was a kid, but there was a neighborhood girl, or kin of a neighbor or something, at my last barn who loved Archie. She drew an adorable picture of him springing into the air.

    And that bank/cannon sounds terrifying.

    Actually, the "modest drops" sound terrifying, too.

    • The bank/cannon WAS terrifying. I was scared of it until the day the county park tore the course down to build a hiking trail or some shit. The cannons were the scarier of the two jumps, though, because it honest-to-god felt like you'd just been shot out of something.

  • My horses are prone to the eyes wide shut shots too!
    How great to have youth & entusiasm around, they inspire me to be better & try harder than I otherwise might. It's a great motivator 😀

    I hope Moe enjoys his donuts & saves one for you. Well if they are the human variety he eats…if they are another super fancy horse treat american horses get that can't be bought here 😉

    • Inspiring, that's a perfect way to describe it! Having someone that young and impressionable really makes me be more mindful of how I ride and how I behave.

      The donuts are just regular old donuts (he is partial to glazed and chocolate-glazed). He got hooked on them while he was staying at my dad's- the grandkids apparently felt it necessary to share theirs with him! I'm surprised he didn't colic and die.

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