Chronicle editorial staffer Ann Glavan recently purchased a 3-year-old Friesian-Thoroughbred cross to work with and eventually compete in the jumper ring. Moji has been under saddle for a little over four months, and he went to his very first local horse show. Here’s his diary entry from the entire weekend:
The chief treat bestower came to ride me today.
Is that a treat I see in your hand? Photo by Kimberly Loushin.
In the early days of my four long months of training, tacking up meant treats galore, treats for everything. Stood in cross ties? TREAT. Picked up foot? TREAT. Let her brush my tangled-fresh-daily tail? TREAT. You want to brush my forelock or face? You can’t reach it without a TREAT. I’m part Friesian, I’ll giraffe my way out of anything involving my head unless there’s a TREAT involved.
But now, she says I’m growing up and don’t need a treat for all this awesome behavior I demonstrate, it’s just “common courtesy.” We’ll see how her tactics change when she needs a small to mid-size stepladder to bridle me. I try and cram the whole left cross-tie into my mouth while she finishes dressing me.
We go out to the round pen, and she tries to make me canter, which is hilarious. She runs around after me making weird kissy noises, and I tranter a single step, because I’m a very good listener.
I want her to know I hear her, and I’m choosing not to canter, because I’m not crazy and hyp—HOLY GOD ALMIGHTY THE HORSES NEXT DOOR ARE RUNNING IN THEIR FIELD.
I want to run. I want to race. I am swifter than the wind I am a gazelle I am a cheetah I am War Admiral circa 1937, pre Seabiscuit shaming.
Oh, so now she’s whoaing at me. I guess I’ve impressed her enough with my breeze on a 20-meter circle. She says we have to do this before we ride because of that ONE TIME I bucked her off when she didn’t do it, but come on, that was ONE time. I promise her I’m a solid citizen now, but she has yet to believe me.
She walks me over to the mounting block to get on. I very sneakily almost swallow half of the left rein before she notices.
She gets on and we start walking around the ring, totally boring stuff, another thing she insists on doing before the fun stuff because she says sometimes I spook at—COWS. COWS-COWS-COWS-COWS mom there are cows, where did the cows come from, where do they come from in general, why do they smell so weird, why do they look so weird? WHY ARE THEY SO CLOSE TO ME They’re only two fence lines and 100 yards away I CAN PRACTICALLY TOUCH THEM.
Shoulder-in away from cows-deflected. Spin and run away from cows-deflected. This lady is serious about walking past cows! OK, OK, OK, I can walk past cows, I can walk past cows, I’ll walk past the cows.
But only in this direction, I’m blowing my lid when we go by them the other way.
OK, ritual cow ring familiarization is done, time for the fun part, terrrrroting!
I like trotting. I’m good at trotting. Mom tells me so. We trot over poles, which she likes, and I drag her to stomp over cones, which she seems to like less.
We do some circles and loops and what not, sometimes I try to freestyle it and do a dog leg turn across the diagonal, and she gets all “steering is my job” and I’m like “why can’t it be my job?” but she’s pretty adamant about picking where we go, so I let it slide. She is the Treat Chief, after all.
I don’t like cantering as much, I don’t really get it. She asks me to with that weird kissy noise again, I give her a buck, because sometimes she laughs when I do that so maybe my hilarious antics will distract her and we won’t canter, but nope, carrot chief must have her canter.
We finish our ride and she takes me back to the barn for my shower, which I used to be terrified of, but one time she let me eat my dinner while getting attacked by the hose monster so now its all good. Hoses are friends.
Really? Pictures in the bathtub mom?
I get a handful of Mrs. Pasture’s Cookies, my favorite snack, and Treat Chief takes me back out to my field, and I try to pull the lead rope out of her hand. Chewing on things is my favorite.
Treat Chief says we’re going to go to our first show tomorrow. She put my fly pajamas on me tonight to try and keep me clean. She said to try not to roll, but rolling is another of my favorite things so I think I’ll just do it after she leaves.
It’s show day! I don’t know what that means but Treat Chief looks way nicer than she usually does—her breeches don’t have any stains on them, and her shirt is not nearly as ill fitting as usual. This must be a special occasion!
She gives me a really good grooming, she even paints my toes to make them shiny, which is very distracting, because usually I’m just like oh, hooves, but now I’m like WHOA, hooves, I can see my reflection in you!
Pimped. Photo by Kimberly Loushin.
We get in the moving white box, which I’ve done a couple times before and totally rock at. I give it a good up down look, make sure its legit, but then I hop right on.
Going on trailer rides is totally awesome, you can look out the windows at other horses, you can neigh at people, you can play the alphabet game with your trailer buddy.
My trailer buddy for this trip is Bella the mare, though, and she doesn’t want to play the alphabet game. She squeals and pins her ears at me every time I look at her, so I think I’ll just play by myself. A, a, a…
Oh my gosh, we’re there! I only made it to ‘I’ in the alphabet, Bella looks like she wants to kill me. I wonder if its something I said, I told her she looked lovely this morning and she tried to kick me. Mom says it’s a mare thing.
We get dressed, and I’m starting to get pretty nervous about meeting new people but also excited about showing new people my shiny feet, my super duper trot, and seeing if any of them want to be best friends.
We warm up in a grass field by ourselves, which is pretty scary, but there aren’t any cows around here so I hold it together pretty well. Then its time for the show part! We walk up to the ring, and there are new horses and new treat givers everywhere, and so many smells and so many sounds and now she’s saying something to someone about “Are you ready for us?” and then all of the sudden—
We’re in a ring. ALONE. All my cool new potential friends are hanging outside the ring watching and we’re in the ring.
This can’t be good. WHOA WHATS THAT HAY BALE DOING THERE.
Hay bales don’t go there. Why does it have flowers on it? Stop looking where we’re going and answer my questions, mom, mom, mom, mom—WHOA who’s talking, where is their voice coming from, why is it so loud? Who is “Laissez Faire, owned and shown by Ann Glavan?”
What? THAT’S US?! You told me my name was Moji! Is my name not Moji? Who am I? What am I? AM I EVEN A HORSE OR WAS THAT A LIE TOO?
This seems super sketch, I don’t know about any of this. I think I’m going to try holding my breath and see if that helps….
*GASP* whoa that did not help, did not help.
Maybe I should try the other thing again, breathing. OK, now we’re trotting at a cross-rail, OK, OK, I can trot cross-rails, I trot cross-rails all the time at home, I trot cross-rails for breakfast.
This is me, practicing my cross-rail game with my brother dog chasing me. #nailedit
BOOM. Trotted it. OK, maybe this isn’t terrible, Treat Chief says I’m doing real well and patted my neck, so I’ll just keep trotting.
I trotted all the cross-rails, TWICE, like a champ. That’s what mom said I was.
Then we went back in the ring and trotted and even cantered some verticals. I got like a million pats and hugs and good boys, so yeah, I think I crushed it.
We trailered home that night and I told Bella all about it, and about how I totally wasn’t scared at all and she rolled her eyes at me. I’ll figure her out, yet!
We went back to the show the next day for jumper day, which is what mom says I’m going to do when I grow up. Now that I knew the game, I was totally on it.
Well, except for this one part where I thought we were done and tried to trot out of the ring, and mom was like no keep going, and I was like “but there’s an open gate right here,” but she got all kicky and steer-y and I was like FINE, fine, I’ll go.
And there was this other time where she was totally unclear about where we were going. I know because her trainer said it was a pilot error—aka totally her fault—and then there was a jump out of nowhere and I walked over it. Well, through it. Because I’m a team player.
I don’t like cantering but cantering jumps is way more fun than trotting them, so for the last round mom let me canter almost everything and it was totally awesome. I kicked that course’s butt, and she gave me so many treats and pets and said I can have a nice long vacation now! Wheeeeeeeee!
See you after my break, diary!