Hometowns: Wellington, Florida, and Alcester, England
Basic stats: 10-year-old, 16.3-hand Holsteiner mare
Sire: Cero II
Owner: Old Willow Farms
Rider: Laura Kraut
Barn manager: Mary Elizabeth Kent
Background: Laura and Nick Skelton found Moose in northern Germany when she was 5 years old. She is much bigger than Laura’s typically compact mounts, like now-retired 15.2-hand Cedric. “She was quite green and a little bit gawky in the early years of her career,” says Mary Elizabeth, so Laura took her time with Zeremonie, helping her gain the experience and confidence she would need to compete at the highest levels. “Now she’s an old pro,” says Mary Elizabeth. “She loves the crowds and does her best every time she walks in the ring.”
The mare competes about twice a month on a schedule geared toward international championships. Following each major championship, she takes a few weeks off from work and enjoys grazing and napping in her paddock.
Moose is as confident and brave around the barn as she is in the show ring—except when it comes to running water. She’s fine with water in the wash stall—fortunately, as her original dapple-gray color is now quite white, requiring frequent baths. (“She spends a lot of her time wet,” says Mary Elizabeth.) But she sometimes shies away from other sources of running water. This can cause a few minor detours at shows, where water trucks are used to wet down the footing. “I have to avoid them at all costs,” says Laura.
Before Laura and Nick found Moose, she produced a colt named Lord Lucio, by the Holsteiner stallion Legolas. Mother and son were reunited two years ago when Laura and Nick purchased Lucio at a sporthorse auction. Now nicknamed Baby Moose, he was one of only two 6-year-olds to jump clear throughout the entire competition at the 2017 British Young Horse Showjumping Championships.
Daily routine: To maintain fitness, Moose goes on a hot walker for an hour a day, in addition to six to seven days a week under saddle. When she’s in England, she’s also ridden out once or twice a week on a 3-mile loop following local roads into the neighboring hills. She also enjoys grazing in her grassy paddock for several hours each day. “She never picks her head up,” says Mary Elizabeth.
In the barn, Moose spends her time either watching out her stall windows—one looks out toward the ring and the other opens into the barn aisle—or sleeping. “She takes a lot of naps, even at horse shows,” says Mary Elizabeth. “She doesn’t care what’s going on around her stall. She’s always covered with shavings in the morning—and other times of the day, too.”
Friendly and easygoing with both people and other horses, Moose adores attention. Most importantly, “she is ruled by food,” says Mary Elizabeth. “She loves cookies, treats and peppermints.”
Nutrition: Moose’s healthy appetite serves her well in her worldly travels, which have included frequent trips between Europe and the U.S. as well as more remote destinations, such as China and Brazil. Many countries don’t allow riders to bring along the grains that their horses are accustomed to eating at home, so they often have to switch feeds. That’s no problem for this happy globetrotter, says Mary Elizabeth. “She’s not one to go off her feed.”
Despite her “steel stomach,” Moose receives GastroGard when she competes as a preventive measure to protect her from gastric ulcers, which are unfortunately extremely common among show horses.
Her two daily meals of low-energy pellets are supplemented with Remard Total Joint Care Performance and Total Blood Fluids Muscle. In the States, she also eats three meals of timothy hay. In England, she eats haylage, a traditional British forage consisting of grasses sealed in plastic wrap immediately after cutting and preserved by the fermentation process resulting from the air-tight, high-moisture conditions.
Before traveling, Moose always receives a bran mash. Although she isn’t especially mare-ish, she is also kept on a routine oral dose of Regu-mate during the show season. “She just becomes a little moodier when she’s in heat,” says Mary Elizabeth. The synthetic hormones ensure that her heat symptoms don’t distract her—or any nearby stallions—at competitions.
Other care: Moose wears normal shoes, routinely replaced every five weeks. At home, she wears regular stable bandages in her stall. After jump schools and competitions, she stands in ice boots. Ramard ReliefGel is then applied to her legs underneath her stable wraps.
At shows, bodywork specialists stretch and massage her before classes—and sometimes in between rounds. She also enjoys acupuncture and massage blankets. “We believe that any physical therapy is beneficial,” says Mary Elizabeth.
Team gold medal, CSIO**** Nations Cup in Wellington, spring 2016 · Team silver, 2016 Rome CSI***** Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup presented by Longines · Team bronze, 2016 Barcelona CSI***** Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final · Third individually, 2016 Loro Piana Grand Prix of Rome · U.S. team reserve for the 2016 Rio Olympics · Second individually, 2017 $35,000 Sovaro Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier CSI***-W at the Palm Beach Masters · Team silver and fourth individually, 2017 Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup CSIO***** at CHIO Aachen, where she also won the Halla Challenge Trophy as the leading jumper of the show.
This article was originally published in the January 2018 issue of Practical Horseman.