Welcome to the Schmidt Show: 24 Hours with Dressage Trainer and Equine Cartoonist Morgane Schmidt

One of our favorite things about my job is that I get to know the most fun and fascinating people. Our authors come from so many parts of the world and with so many different life experiences, a day doesn’t pass where I don’t wish I lived closer to one or all of them so we could hang out on a regular basis. Luckily, many are willing to give us a peek behind the curtain and into their lives so we can see what it’s like being in their shoes for a day. Trainer and cartoonist Morgane Schmidt, author and illustrator of the hilarious comic treasury LIFE WITH HORSES IS NEVER ORDERLY, recently shared one of her typical dog days of summer, where there is much latte, quite a bit of maid service, and even some dressage.

“I found myself laughing out loud as I turned the pages of Life with Horses Is Never Orderly. Morgane Schmidt has explained just about every experience I have had in my many years in the horse world and put just the right spin on it. Everyone who needs a laugh (and don’t all equestrians?) should read this.” —Lendon Gray, Olympian, Dressage Coach, and Founder of Dressage4Kids


3:15 am Awaken to Goblin sitting on my head and Bowie standing next to the bed, over me, breathing. Heavily. I usually groan, chuck a pillow at Bowie and shove Goblin into his bed on the floor all while regretting the ONE time I let them out at this ungodly hour.

The face of evil.

5:43 am Startle into wakefulness because Bowie is now sitting all 165 pounds of his fuzzy ass on my legs, cutting off circulation. Goblin is also farting. I acquiesce and get up to let them out and feed them. Usually, I put Goblin’s food in his crate and lock him in it so I can go lie back down for a few moments unmolested. Bowie tends to saunter in after his breakfast to begin his very early morning nap that generally lasts until about 9:00 am. Lucky sod.

6:30 am These days, this tends to be when I get up in earnest. Before returning to The Swamp (aka Florida), I started the day quite a bit earlier by necessity as I was trying to work horses before sitting down to my actual desk job. Now that I am not juggling multiple training horses, I suppose I’ve gotten lazy—that or I need the extra few minutes of sleep since my dogs are jerks. At any rate, this is when I start mainlining coffee. Then I meditate and do some special yoga for riders…just kidding. I just drink coffee, eat oatmeal with chocolate chips (like a REAL adult), and mindlessly play on my phone.

That’s me, double fisting it.

7:00 am – 9:00 am Once I am somewhat among the living (usually three or four espresso shots in), I head out and provide room service and hospitality to my generally ungrateful herd. There’s often a bit of huffing about there not being enough alfalfa, but I’m immune to their grousing. At the moment, it’s just Wilson and Milona at the farm, so barn chores are generally pretty quick.

After breakfast, maid service, and a general wellness check to ensure no one has succeeded in maiming or offing themselves, I tack Wilson up to ride. As he is the elder beast, and the least likely to chuck me into the bushes before I am fully awake, he gets harassed first. Honestly, this is probably my favorite part of the day. It’s beautiful out—a light breeze, birds chirping, gators still sleeping—it’s perfect.

You can almost hear the birds chirping…the ones the gators haven’t eaten anyway.

Wilson, who I used to call “The Beastlet” when he was younger and more fractious, is quite the trustworthy soul these days. If anything, he could benefit from being a tad more forward-thinking. We are continually working to help him be quicker with his hind leg and maintain his balance. He’s such a big, elastic mover that sometimes coordinating everything with balance AND impulsion can be tricky. Rather than getting hot or explosive he just…stops. He does a very good rock impression. Super zen-like. It makes for an incredibly frustrating FEI test though.

Interestingly, the tricks are easy for him. He loves changes and can really sit in a pirouette. Collected trot though? What’s that nonsense about?!

Wilson, ever the charmer.

9:00 am After warming myself up with Wilson, I tackle Milona, the “Red Dragon.” She has many opinions. As long as she voices them respectfully, rather than taking me for a self-guided field trip from the scary corner in the arena to the other end in three strides, I count it as a win. In all seriousness, she’s a lovely youngster, bright red mare that she is. She loves to work and entirely believes that the world is there to admire her greatness (I suspect she may not be wrong if she develops as I think she will). While she doesn’t often have tantrums, she is a mare and she is currently in the “Fabulous or ‘Eff You’ Fives,” so there are questionable moments, and those moments can be quite *exciting* given her athleticism. As a result, I’ve enlisted the help of a fabulous friend and trainer, Alejandro Salazaar. He’s like some sort of riding savant; he’s one of the few riders I’ve worked with who is equally as talented with youngsters as FEI horses. Milona, of course, adores him.

Milona in a non-flight moment.

10:00 am – Sometime in the Late Afternoon After my early morning barn sabbatical, it’s time for me to head inside for my *real* job. I currently work for a tech company based in Boulder, Colorado. We offer speech recognition for the Healthcare industry, specifically home health and hospice. I work remotely as a marketing manager. This means that I do things like help develop collateral, outreach campaigns, website and social media content, as well as manage Google AdWords and other lead-driving initiatives.

Sounds sexy, right? Well, it is! In news that will shock no one, the horse industry is a tough one to make a living in. As much as I love training and teaching, for a multitude of reasons I’m not cut out to do it full time. I also find that having a job in an entirely unrelated field helps keep my brain sharp(er). And while any office job has its fair share of “meetings that could have been emails,” I do really enjoy mine and the people I work with.

As I work from home, my day sort of varies and is generally built around whatever meetings I have scheduled and what projects we have going that I’m working on. In the middle of that though, I generally head out around lunch to check once again that no one has committed hari-kari on a fence post, or anything similarly stupid, and to reward them with more snacks for avoiding vet bills. If time permits, I do another round of maid service.

Sometime late afternoon I take some time to meditate. Just kidding. I still don’t do that. But it is a goal! Eventually. I do make another latte though. That seems like healthy self-care.

Sometimes one must give the kids something to entertain themselves so actual work can get done.

Evening When my work calls are done for the day, I do a final round of ration-dispensing and maid service. The doggos kindly provide me with entertainment both in the yard beforehand as well as while I cook dinner. Usually something super fun like ricocheting from the couch to the ottoman and then onto the dining room table. It’s mildly funny when Goblin does it. It’s borderline tragic when Bowie attempts it.

During the week I occasionally have an evening lesson or two to teach. I have been fortunate in that I have some super-fun horses and people that I get to work with. Some are strictly dressage riders and others are eventers.  As a former eventer (I gave that goal up after I figured out that continually barfing in the start box wasn’t a thing), I love being around the sport, particularly now that I’m not the one doing that whole hurtling over immovable obstacles part.

The neighbors aren’t impressed with Bowie’s antics.

7:00 pm – 10:00 pm After one final barn check, I usually settle into art/writing/computer projects in the evening. As someone who is hardwired as a night owl but reprogrammed as a morning person due to horses and the gross reality that it’s hard to get a productive ride in after dark, I find that I’m most creative at night. This works well with the fact that I am also a procrastinator. While I do keep a running list of comic ideas—usually gleaned from conversations with friends and fellow equestrians or sparked by memes or other internet rabbit holes—the actual drawing and creation of the comic usually happens sometime after 8:00 pm Tuesday night (because it’s due Wednesday morning).

If I don’t have a comic that I’m working on, I often use this time to work on other art projects or articles. Most of my artwork is equine or dog related though I have been known to attempt people on occasion. I currently have a watercolor of The Goblin King going that is screaming to be finished.

Where the magic happens?

10:00 pm Reading and internet rabbit-hole time! I would like to say that I go to bed by 10:00 pm but that would largely be a lie. In theory—because sleep is important—I would like to be in bed and sleeping by 10:00, but in practice I sometimes find that hard to manage. My dogs also do not go to bed by 10:00 so there’s that too. I have made a concerted effort to do more reading of actual books rather than reading on my phone though. For the curious, I currently have five books in various stages of completion on my nightstand: A Grave for a Dolphin, Good Omens, David Sedaris – the Best of Me, The Chronicles of Between, and Beyond Biocentrism. I’m only a little eclectic.

11:00 pm The hellhounds get one more freedom run through the yard so they can track all sorts of glorious debris into the bed. Then bedtime. Maybe.

All photos courtesy of Morgane Schmidt.

You can find Morgane’s hilarious comic treasury LIFE WITH HORSES IS NEVER ORDERLY at the TSB online bookstore and wherever horse books are sold.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

Enjoy this? Check out other author interviews in the “24 Hours” series:

Sally Batton
Sandra Beaulieu
Dr. Stacie Boswell
Cathy Woods
Dr. Jenni Grimmett
Dr. Bob Grisel
Tik Maynard
Jec Aristotle Ballou
Kendra Gale
Jean Abernethy
Yvonne Barteau
Jonathan Field
Emma Ford
Jochen Schleese
Heather Smith Thomas
Lynn Palm
Daniel Stewart
Doug Payne
Janet Foy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s