You might not know her by name, but if you are ever on Facebook then chances are good that you’ve seen Morgane Schmidt Gabriel’s work. The 34-year-old equestrienne is the artist behind The Idea of Order, a web-comic that gets thousands of views and shares each week that it is published.
A native of Daytona Beach, Florida, Morgane moved to Reno in 2012. She primarily rides dressage, and recently completed her United States Dressage Federation bronze and silver medals. She is currently working on her gold. When she’s not writing, Morgane is drawing up inspiration about the often silly moments that come with horse ownership. We recently chatted with her to find out more.
Q: What horses do you own/ride?
A: “In addition to multiple client horses, I currently compete my 7 year old Dutch gelding, For Willie. I got him from DG Bar Ranch in California when he was just a year and a half. He has been showing third and schooling PSG and I-1. I refer to him as The Beastlet. He’s an affable guy with quite the developed sense of self importance, which isn’t entirely undeserved given his talent and trainability. He’s also got a fabulous sense of humor and never misses an opportunity to smile and beg for a treat. He has sort of taken over my life as my main guy and has already proven to be one of those special, once-in-a-lifetime
sort of horses.
I also ride and show Stormy, AKA The Paintlet or Stormbeast. He’s a 12 year old APHA gelding owned by a good friend of mine, who generously gave him to me to ride while Will was growing up. Stormy and I have trained through I-1 and he schools most of the GP work. He is responsible for teaching me more than I can even put into words. He was the first horse I rode and trained to the FEI levels and it was largely because he’s such a genius and ridiculously generous. He’s such a little trier and I absolutely adore him. He’s Willie’s best friend and partner in crime.
And last but not least, there’s Woody, registered name He’s A Hollywood Jac. He is the star and initial inspiration for The Idea of Order. You might recognize his surly, grumpy, pony face from some of my comics. He may only be 14.2hh but he is convinced he’s mighty. Under his somewhat cranky exterior is the kindest, most fabulous soul ever. He’s a horse who has never let me down and always been game to do whatever I asked — reining, jumping, dressage, galloping on the beach, teaching people the ropes of riding—he’s been not only a horse of a lifetime, but also a best friend. He’ll be 21 this coming year.”
Q: What brought you to Nevada?
A: “I moved to Nevada because my husband was in the Air Force. He was stationed in New Mexico and got medically discharged. His parents lived here in Reno so we ended up relocating here because of that.”
Q: And how are you liking it?
A: “I think the lack of humidity is fabulous. Definitely pretty. I really can’t say that I love the winters in any fashion whatsoever. Snow… not my thing. I threaten to move back [to Florida] every time we hit this time of year. Ultimately, there’s a lot of stuff here that’s pretty nice.”
Q: How long have you been publishing The Idea of Order?
A: “The Idea of Order started in 2010 – a product of being stuck in New Mexico. The base in New Mexico is in this little, tiny podunk town called Clovis, which only operates because there’s an Air Force base there. I got a little bit bored and thought well I’ve always wanted to do more stuff with my art so I’ll do this because literally I could do nothing else
Initially it was just about Woody and I had another horse that was named Puppy. I take no credit for that name! It kinda started out just being about them. It very quickly branched out of that realm into just all of the absurd things that horses do.”
Q: Why did you decide to focus on the silliness of life with horses?
A: “I think I was always kinda inspired by [Norman] Thelwell – he had just great, great comics. He was a cartoonist who published in Punch magazine in England and he had a bunch of horse comics with all little ponies and the comics always depicted just the ridiculous things – the pony dumping a kid or the kid dragging the pony into the house. When you really think about it, in the equestrian world there’s a lot of absurdity but we love it anyway and I think I just kinda took that and ran with it.”
Q: Have you always been an artist?
A: “I have. Even as a kid I enjoyed drawing. Of course the first things I drew were horses. When I was in college I did a minor in art and that was fun. There was a time when I thought what I wanted to do was go and animate for Disney or Pixar. Instead, I got an English major and ended up teaching and then went into business.”
Q: Are all your comics drawn from your real life experiences or people you know?
A: “A lot of times it’s actual experiences, myself or friends. We’ll go to a horse show and start talking about different things and ideas pop up. I try to write those down because inevitably when I need inspiration it’s not happening at 8:00 at night on a Tuesday. So I try to keep a running list.”
Q: Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you say ‘This is going
in the next comic!’?
A: “All the time! Most of the people I’m around are like ‘That’s your next comic!’ And there’s never really a shortage of ideas. Sometimes there’s a shortage of appropriate ones that are easy to convey. We’ve all had that inside joke that if anybody’s in on it it’s hilarious, but to try to put that into something for someone else to come into and it’s like yeah I have no idea why that’s funny. “
Q: What has the response been like since you started publishing?
A: “The initial response wasn’t particularly huge. I think in the beginning I was still feeling out what I was doing with it. And again, the stuff with my own personal horses… unless you knew those horses the comics weren’t particularly amusing in any sort of way. Maybe mildly funny. When I started taking it out to more universal truths of all the ridiculousness that horses are, it got a little bit more popular. I think the turning point was I started working with HorseNation.com. A lot of the traffic that I’ve gotten has been through them. And now my stuff gets picked up by other brands and companies and they’re sharing it more. It’s definitely taken off.”
Q: What does the future look like for The Idea of Order?
“What I’d like to do is spin it into something slightly more lucrative. I would like to maybe do a coffee table book or something like that. Or even calendars or something fun like that. I do have an online store so you can buy t-shirts or prints.”
Learn More: www.theideaoforder.com
Story by Samantha Szesciorka
Photos Courtesy Morgane Schmidt Gabriel