A Great Horse is Rarely an Easy Horse

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Jackie Poirier

19 September 2022

I’m not going to sugar-coat this; Moe is a difficult horse. He was bought for my business partner in 2005 as a green broke, rising three-year-old. I figured six months of training on the riding school and he would be good to go. Famous last words.

Moe absolutely did not want to be a lesson horse. To this day, he will not suffer fools. If he doesn’t think you know what you’re doing he’ll drag you into the center of the arena or truck you around without stopping! I should mention that Moe does all this without malice, it’s his defense mechanism.

Young Moe didn’t have any brakes. He literally would take off at a walk, ignoring subtle and not-so-subtle aids to stop. Faster gaits did not improve this situation. At twenty years of age, Moe cannot be cantered in group situations unless he is first.

I took lessons on him for years with dressage coach, Evelyne Orel, who I can only describe as an angel because Moe was the devil at that time. He was stiff as a board with crappy transitions, no stop, no bend, no flexion, and no real canter until he was ten years old. Later in life, Moe qualified for the Regional Championships in Bromont, QC, in dressage. It was an incredible achievement for all of us.

It’s easy to give up on a difficult horse. I had a bad accident on him when he was five years old when he reared up and I slid backwards off his rump and onto the hard ground. I sustained a concussion and a groin injury. It was the turning point for both of us. From this experience, I learned to train horses from a new perspective.


Moe is stunning to look at, standing 16.3hh and tipping the scales at 1500 lbs. His superpower is that he is fearless. On the road, he barely notices trucks, motorcycles, loose dogs, bicycles, walkers, baby carriages, or walkers with dogs. He simply does not care! 

Moe lives life BIG. His bravery is legendary. He’s in demand to escort young horses on trail rides, he has boldly trotted into an arena with five thousand people clapping and singing (musical ride at the PNE), and on one occasion crawled over fallen trees while descending a mountain bike trail that had an alarming downward pitch. I grabbed the back of my saddle to prevent myself from tipping over his head! Yes, we got lost in the backcountry.

I affectionately call him Sybil (from the book about the lady with multiple personality disorder) because he has so many moods. Most of them are pleasant and agreeable, but there is one that is dangerous. I’ve met it infrequently but when it appears great skill is required to keep Moe calm and controlled.

Like all great horses, Moe is idiosyncratic. Halters cannot be put on without two pieces of carrot. One before the halter (he turns his head so you can’t put it on until he’s swallowed), and one after. He is metrosexual, the more grooming products you use, the happier he is. He is funny about giving me his right hoof for cleaning because I treated him for thrush and it hurt. That was seven years ago…he has a long memory.

He has a suspicious bladder. On trail rides he’ll stop multiple times to find the safest spot to pee (yah, I don’t get it either). He won’t cross bridges without checking for trolls that live beneath them. He wants to be behind a horse at a walk, but be in front if we trot or canter. He can’t do group turn out as he is a bully…but he wants to be near other horses. He needs double locks on his paddock and stall door. He loves trailer rides, loading immediately, because going to new places is exciting for him. He is brilliant and obtuse at the same time.

Moe likes to touch things, like blankets hanging on doors, grain buckets that need tipping, lights that need to be turned off and on, spigots to flood the barn. Yup, he’s the whole package.

His saving grace is that he is kind to me. He maneuvers himself at the mounting block so that I can safely get on and off. I know he’ll take care of me on trail as I ride alone most of the time. He requires a minimum of four rides per week to keep him grounded, so I’m staying fit too. He’s changed how I look at horses, how I communicate with them, and how I train them.

I’m in my sixties now and so is he (in horse years). We’re like an old married couple who argue, have fun, and love each other. I couldn’t do another Moe, but I will always love my difficult, opinionated, Canadian Horse.

Jackie Poirier

Jackie Poirier

1 Comment

  1. Virginia

    Wow, I thought you were describing Beau, what a wonderful journey you two have had! Bravo to you and Moe, and happy trails


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