Here I am

I didn’t mean to stop blogging for two months. It started as just two weeks during which I was mostly working and not riding, with nothing really to talk about.

Then my dad got sick. I’ve typed and retyped how to talk about this four, five, six times now, but the only thing I can say is that he started running a fever and then everything became a blur and then he was gone. In four weeks my whole world imploded.

I still honestly don’t know what my life is going to look like from now on. Some days it feels the same except for a huge, screaming black hole in the center of it all. Some days it feels like I stepped through the looking glass where everything looks the same but it’s all wrong in a way I can’t describe.

I haven’t been to the barn at all, really. Once or twice, to drop off a check or sort of pat Tristan on the nose. I’ve been keeping up with Etsy orders because I’ve been spending money like water. I may get back to blogging at some point. I’m just trying to keep going right now.

If you’ve followed my house posts, you met my dad. He was the best dad anyone could possibly ask for. I’m going to miss him forever.



2019 goals · Uncategorized

2019 Goals

Original Goals Post
January Post

So, how did February go?


  • Get to First Level – nibbling away at it! we actually got a not-sucky counter canter in our lesson last weekend – not on purpose, but he decided to canter on the wrong lead and I told him that if he was going to do that he should make it a good one
  • Set up & run tack swap/sale – this may have stalled out; we’ll see
  • Take 12 lessons – now at 3/12
  • Volunteer at 6 events – none officially yet but I did spent some time on local event pages mapping out potential schedules
  • Get & share 1 video per month of rides – sooooooo I took a video of myself but I looked like shit and honestly it was a very discouraging thing for a little bit.


  • Finish house interior work – living room is painted, sun room has no wallpaper or wallpaper glue and is about to get its first layer of plaster
  • Finish funding emergency fund – 71% done
  • Pay off vision correction surgery – 53% done
  • Try 24 new recipes – now 7/24
  • Write 20k on Morgan book – tiny progress, this has fallen too far to the backburner


  • Get to 500 sales on Etsy – 237/500
  • Separate website and social media for business – slowly clawing my way into a more active business social media presence, but the website isn’t there yet
  • Take accounting class
  • Develop 3 new patterns – nope.
  • Have a total of 7-10 items for sale – nope.

Limited Availability – Embroidered Saddle Pads

I have no intention of adding embroidered saddle pads to my Etsy shop, BUT – I did a bunch for my barn for the holidays, and I over-ordered.

So before I send them back to Riding Warehouse, I thought I might offer them up here.

The saddle pads are Toklat Tango “Wave” pads, dressage cut with black braiding around the edge. The quilting pattern is sort of a wave, hence the name.

saddle pad

I have 10 available. For $40, including shipping, I can put a name or monogram in any color on the left side corner. I can do some limited designs as well. For anything I’d have to get digitized (ie a logo or a design I don’t already have) the total cost would go up to $50. I can embroider a space up to 5″x7″.

As I said, this is a limited run. I’ll keep this offer open until the end of February, and then they’re headed back to Riding Warehouse.

If you want one, email me: beljoeor[at]gmail[dot]com. I’ll invoice you directly.

Any questions, ask away in the comments!

stupid human tricks · Uncategorized

The Wrong Horse

A recent post on the Trafalgar Square Books Blog by Denny Emerson hit me right in the feels: Is Your Horse the Love of Your Life, but Completely Wrong for You?

To which I can only answer: yes. Without question, yes.

Almost ten years ago, when I moved down from Vermont to take a new job in Boston, I went through a rough patch with Tristan. He didn’t adjust well to the two new barns I had him at. He colicked badly at the first barn, and then at the second things just were not clicking. He was never not sound, but he was just NQR. Combine that with a bad atmosphere in the barn, and I sent him back to Vermont to live at a friend’s farm for about nine months.

58-0013first dressage show

Before he went out to a field, I put him in training for a week with the trainer I’d previously had in Vermont. What was going wrong? I wanted to know. She worked with him for a week and told me a couple of things: he was completely burned out, he was profoundly unhappy, and he was the wrong horse for me and I needed to sell him and get the horse I “deserved.”

I got off the phone and cried until I threw up. I couldn’t process what she was telling me. She’d known me for four years, and had helped me start Tristan. How had I screwed everything up so badly in less than a year? I only knew that I loved him with all of my heart, I had made incredible sacrifices and worked insanely hard to keep him and keep him happy, and I was being told that it was all wrong.

DSCN0979so young, so skinny

Obviously, I kept him. I couldn’t bear to lose him. There may have been some truth to what my trainer was saying: he would never be – and has never been – an easy ride. We’ve worked hard but we still fight a lot. My life and my riding skills would be dramatically different today if I’d found an ammy-friendly horse with some eventing mileage and a higher work drive, instead of a very green-broke mustang who still viewed humans and work with deep suspicion.

My relationship with that trainer was never the same, because I couldn’t believe what she was telling me – and more importantly, how she was telling it to me. I thought long and hard about everything, and I decided that I loved Tristan. I loved him more than I loved eventing, or competing, or winning. It’s totally okay to choose differently; lots of people do just what Denny advocates in his article, make difficult decisions in pursuit of their own goals. But it wasn’t a choice I could make.


So I kept him. I worked hard to meet him more than halfway. I made my first priority and my first goal in all situations to make him happy and healthy. I learned to ease off goal-setting and hard-driving, because I would just hit a wall, every time. I had to take things as they came. I’m not naturally that person by any stretch of the imagination, but Tristan has forced me into that.

In return, he’s done more than that trainer ever imagined. He won at Beginner Novice. He is still cranky and not thrilled about dressage but sometimes a light comes on and he applies all that stubborn energy to figuring out the problem, and when he releases he is downright fancy. He’s the horse that everyone in the barn loves, the horse that I don’t have any hesitation giving toddler pony rides on, the horse that whickers for me when he sees me coming down the aisle. My heart still leaps when I see his face sticking out his stall, every single time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcelebrating three months together, 2006

So: yes, he was and probably still is completely the wrong horse for me, and I love him more than anything, and I have no regrets.

2019 goals · Uncategorized

2019 Goals: January Recap

Original Goals Post

So, how did January go?


  • Get to First Level – we’ve had some truly superb rides in January, despite them being few and far between, and he’s had moments of a gorgeous balance that’s not quite First Level, but it’s definitely beyond Training.
  • Set up & run tack swap/sale – I have called a potential venue, conversed with the barn, and on Sunday I laid out some plans to distract myself from the Superbowl
  • Take 12 lessons – 1/12, check!
  • Volunteer at 6 events – hahahaha, what events, there’s 2′ of snow outside.
  • Get & share 1 video per month of rides – sadly January was a bust on this


  • Finish house interior work – living room is primed and we’ve chosen a color! now to finish painting
  • Finish funding emergency fund – 67% of the way there
  • Pay off vision correction surgery – 47% of the way there
  • Try 24 new recipes – 5/24, all excellent
  • Write 20k on Morgan book – no writing, but some research progress; follow the Morgan Mondays tag for more


  • Get to 500 sales on Etsy – 208/500
  • Separate website and social media for business – social media check, website not yet
  • Take accounting class – check! I did a webinar through the Small Business Administration; I need to do some more, but I was happy with it.
  • Develop 3 new patterns – I have two in the works but man this is slow going. It’s hard to balance the actual business production with doing new things.
  • Have a total of 7-10 items for sale – Nothing new yet.
equestrian history · Uncategorized

What is a butteris?

So, I work in a museum. Every week, we do a “what is it?” object focus on something random from our collection.

Here’s this week’s object.


Do you know what it is?

Well, the social media person came to me and said “The collections record says this is a hoof parer. Can you tell me more about that to share?” To which I said, “Wait, a WHAT?!”

Yeah. It’s apparently a very old style of hoof knife. The proper technical term for it is “butteris,” sometimes spelled buttris, buttrice, butterys, and a bunch of other variations.

By “very old,” I mean that according to The Medieval Horse and Its Equipment by John Clark,

The word is recorded quite early in English – as in 1366, when John Wyot was accused of having maliciously wounded a horse at the smithy of John Mareschal in Wood Street[in London] with an instrument called a ’boutour.’

Clark also finds illustrations of the tool dating to the 15th and 16th centuries, but states that “by the early 19th century, the use of the butteris was being actively discouraged.” He cites an 1831 veterinary manual that calls the butteris “that most destructive of all instruments.”

But how would you use it, you ask? Well.


An article from The Carriage Journal describes the process.

With the horse’s hoof held with his knees, the farrier held the butteris at the grip with his right hand and the rest in his right shoulder. Short thrusts forward from the shoulder were used to trim the hoof.

True story, we were looking at the above photo in awe when a volunteer who is also a horse person came up behind us, saw the photo, and yelled. Blunt force trauma trimming, anyone?

By the early 19th century, the hoof knives we know and love today had started to supplant the butteris for obvious reasons, and by the mid 19th century there are patents for hoof nippers that are basically the same as today’s designs. I can only imagine that both worked better than a wholesale shearing off of the bottom of a horse’s foot.

You can still buy them, though. For a cool $119.