Brian Moggre was 15 when MTM Farm’s Mike McCormick and Tracy Fenney imported the now 10-year-old Westphalian gelding MTM Vivre Le Reve (Ustinov—Chellana, Chello II). His family’s Major Wager LLC purchased “Erkel” that December, and Moggre began competing him in the junior jumper division.
It didn’t take long for the pair to progress to national grand prix classes, and before they knew it, they were showing in the big leagues against some of the sport’s best combinations. But for Erkel, the only thing standing between him and a significant victory was his rider’s age.
“I was never able to do any three-star, four-star, five-star grand prixs until this year because of my age, so last year, I was able to do the grand prix qualifiers and the ranking classes,” said Moggre, 18, of Flower Mound, Texas. “He’s been spectacular in all of those, but this year was my first FEI grand prix win with him.”
In March, Moggre and Erkel picked up their first international win at the $100,000 Longines FEI Ocala World Cup qualifier, held at Live Oak International in Ocala, Florida. And on Sept. 8, in the $500,000 Saugerties Grand Prix (New York), they secured a third-placed finish. Most recently, they earned more qualifying points towards the 2020 Longines FEI World Cup Final (Las Vegas) with a win in the $225,000 Longines FEI Lexington World Cup qualifier at the National Horse Show (Kentucky) on Nov. 2.
Go behind the stall door with Erkel, the horse that continues to exceed expectations.
• Erkel and Moggre have both matured in the past three years together, moving up from the junior jumpers to the international level.
“Just like any 7-year-old, he didn’t really know what was right and what was wrong at times,” said Moggre. “It was a lot of training that went into it, but he’s a very clever horse, and he wants to do things well. So, I feel like his mindset—as well as mine—we just want to win all the time, so he’s very game. He’s grown a bunch. I think I’ve grown as well, and I think that’s the best part about the partnership that we share.
• Erkel is the guy you want in your corner.
“I feel like I know him so well at this point,” said Moggre. “I have two other horses: I have a mare named MTM Flutterby; she’s 12 now. I’ve had her for a long time as well, so she’s a little bit the same way; I can always rely on her. And I have a newer horse, who I’ve had about a year, MTM Los Angeles; he’s 7. So, when I have some days where I’m trying to figure out Los Angeles, I can always count on Erkel; he’s going to be the same. It’s great for my confidence, especially to jump these large classes. I definitely feel like I have a good connection with him, and there’s not much doubt in my mind entering the ring.”
• Erkel is a professional in the ring, but he also knows how to relax at home.
“Typically we don’t jump a lot with him,” said Moggre. “We hack him a lot; he gets a lot of turnout. He loves turnout, but we’re on the road so often, so it’s hard for us to find a minute to go home and be able to relax. We have weeks off here and there, and we go to layover farms. After Spruce Meadows [Alberta], we were in Kentucky for a few weeks, and he got nice turnout there and some rest after Spruce.
“We don’t do too much with him. He knows his job, and he wants to be a great horse, so we really try to treat him like the great horse that he is.”
• He’s a big softie.
“He has one of the best personalities of a horse I’ve ever experienced,” said Moggre. “One of my first grand prix horses, MTM Ace Of Spades, always wanted to lick you and play with your hair and was just so sweet and gentle. And this horse was very reminiscent of [Erkel]. MTM Ace Of Spades passed away not too long ago, and it’s very nice to have a horse who has that same gentle character that he did. It really touches me and makes me love him with my whole heart even more than I already do. He’s very sweet and kind of my best friend.”
• Unless you’re a stuffed unicorn.
“He has the most agile mouth, his lips and his nose, out of any horse I’ve ever seen,” said Moggre. “He messes with my hair; he just loves to wiggle his nose and mess with things. All three of my horses have stuffed animals, but he always has a unicorn, and we have to replace it pretty much every three weeks because he rips it to shreds. He loves it, and he plays with it every single day. I treat him like my child. I don’t really treat them like horses; they’re my family. I get to have so much fun with them, and they get their stuffed animals and love all day and carrots. They are treated a little bit like royalty because what they do for me is amazing.”
• His favorite treats are carrots and Snaks 5th Avenchew treats.
“Pretty much anything, they love them all: bananas, carrots,” said Moggre. “We typically like to give them carrots because it’s so easy to buy in bulk, and we give them a lot.”
• He plays well with others.
“The three horses that I have, MTM Flutterby, MTM Los Angeles and MTM Vivre Le Reve, all love each other very much,” said Moggre. “Their personalities could not be more different, but the three of them are very close to one another. They never fight. We can put their stall guards up, and they can touch noses, and they just put their ears forward.
“Earlier this year, I did a photoshoot with my horses because I graduated from high school, and there’s a photo where Los Angeles and Vivre Le Reve are actually scratching each other’s backs and rubbing on top of each other. So, those three love each other just as much as I love them individually.”
• Like a fine wine, he’s just getting better with age.
“It’s crazy to me,” said Moggre. “When we purchased the horse and started to get to know each other, I didn’t really know what type of horse he was going to be or what type of rider I was going to be. So, it was very interesting for the two of us to grow up together and see what we can do. To this day, he just keeps going up.
“Spruce Meadows was a great experience for us, the biggest jumps we’ve ever jumped with those five-star classes all those weeks. We weren’t really sure what to expect going into it. I’d never jumped that big; he hadn’t jumped that big before because I got him at 7, so it was actually a very great feeling for both of us to have that reassurance that we can do it and be able to grow further from that.”