Vet Visit Recap

One of the last things I posted was that I was starting to evaluate Tristan’s joint support and overall way of going. He’s 24 and in full work, and I wanted to have expert eyes on him. He’s always been a reluctant horse to warm up, and more recently he’s started kicking out pretty good when we first ask him to get going. Was it brain or body?

The vet who came specializes in lameness: evaluating and treating. It’s his entire practice now, and he actually first saw Tristan the last time we lived in Vermont, over a decade a go. He last saw him about two years ago for a chiropractic adjustment that ended up being kind of unnecessary, which is now what three vets/chiropractors in a row have said and I am officially calling it quits on chiro work for him.

The vet came out and I described some of what I was seeing – general stiffness warming up, some unwillingness to really go forward, left canter departs weren’t as prompt. The barn manager was there too and was able to describe some of what she sees under saddle – not inclined to truly track up, some weakness through the hind end.

The vet’s assistant put Tristan on the longe line and he was FIRED UP. Like, barrel kicked in at the vet assistant’s head and then motored around on the longe like a jackass for a minute or two. For the record: I had been upfront and said “he will probably kick out when you ask him to pick up a trot.” He did! They were still surprised.

But they liked what they saw on the longe, and then the vet flexed both hind ends, palpated his back, and generally did a pretty thorough hands-on examination.

Photo Sep 09, 10 44 43 AM

The verdict:

  • some sensitivity in his RH fetlock, and a verrrrrrrry slight lowering of both fetlocks behind
  • some mild positivity in both hocks, left a touch more than right, but he was reluctant to call either of them even a 1/5 – even after a very strong flexion!
  • generally pretty darn healthy; the vet kept shrugging and saying variations on “I mean, he’s 24…”

The solution:

  • no joint injections at all!
  • get back on the Pentosan routine with a new loading dose (this will be week 3/4 of that) and then doses every 3 weeks going forward
  • sport boots all around for work to support his fetlocks in particular but his legs generally

So, pretty darn good news, and no excuses for him! I’ve purchased and have been using (and hate with fiery passion) the sport boots, and we should start to see the impact of the Pentosan soon, and we’re ready to dig in and get some more work done.

I’ll post soon-ish on why I loathe the sport boots so far, but I figure if I paid all that money to a vet to give him his opinion I should follow it for a while.


Breed Logo Saddle Covers

Okay, I SWEAR I will do an actual blog update someday soon (short version – things are fine), but in the meantime: I’m looking for some ideas/help.

I’ve started adding breed logo saddle covers to my Etsy shop.

I’d like to keep adding them! But I hate making saddle covers without a home. The idea of making them just to photograph and then store feels like a waste.

So: is your horse registered with a particular breed registry? Do you want a custom fleece saddle cover with that registry’s brand/logo embroidered on the side? In any combination of colors?

American Trakehner Custom Fleece Saddle Cover for Dressage image 0

Let me know!

So far I’ve got Trakehner, American Trakehner, and Morgan.

But I’d love to find people with Hanoverian, Dutch, Oldenberg, Bavarian horses. If the breed has a logo and/or brand that people put on things, I want to offer it.

So hit me up. Comment here or email me at beljoeor[at]gmail[dot]com. It’s totally free to you – I just want to know what breed logo and what colors you want.

Small caveat: it’s first-come, first-serve, so if five people want Hanoverian ones then the first person to reach out gets it.


Morgan Monday: Horse “Biography” Books

Remember when I thought I would post every Monday about my Morgan history project? Oh well. I’m slowly chipping away, anyway.

Right now, I’ve been thinking a lot about historiography, as in: how to structure and frame the narrative? What approach is the best use of the sources, the best way to tell the story, and the most thoughtful way to revisit important historical questions? How have other people framed their research and storytelling about equine history?

See, one of the hardest parts about writing a book about an animal is that – and forgive me if this seems stupidly obvious – animals don’t speak. They don’t communicate in any traditional sense, at least one that is captured by a typical primary source or historical document. That is doubly hard when you’re working on the story of an animal that lived in a time and a situation in which he was considered more or less disposable.

I’ve been assembling a list of books that are essentially biographies of individual horses, or in some cases horse breeds.

I’d love to hear of any more that you’ve read and would recommend. I need as many examples as possible to think about!

William Nask, Secretariat

Laura Hillenbrand, Seabiscuit

Mim Eichlar Rivas, Beautiful Jim Key

Jane Schwartz, Ruffian

Elizabeth Letts, The Perfect Horse

Elizabeth Letts, The $800 Champion

Robin Hutton, Sgt. Reckless

Any others?

As a side bonus, when I was double-checking a few names & titles on Amazon (I am writing this on the road, not in front of my bookshelf at home), this book came up.



Blog Hopping: 12 Tough Questions

It’s going around, but I grabbed it from One Bud Wiser. Illustrating with recent IG photos, because why not.

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I never take this view for granted.

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Q1: What hobbies do you have outside of riding?
IDK, making money to support the riding? In all seriousness: reading, writing, researching, working on the house, running a small business, and oh yeah I work a LOT. 

Q2: What is your boarding situation? Are you happy with it?
Full care board 10 minutes from my house. Look – no barn in the whole world is perfect, but mine is pretty darn close. The people are great, the facilities are great, the care is second to none, they genuinely like my horse (and mostly seem to like me?), and I’m happy there. There are things I wish were different but nothing that makes me want to leave.

Q3: What’s on your horsey-related wish list?
Sigh. I’m lusting after a truck and trailer. For no good reason at all. But if someone said to me “here’s $30k and you can’t spend it on anything practical OR put it into savings” I would be at a dealership tomorrow.

Q4: What is your most expensive horsey-related item?
My dressage saddle, bought used for $1200. But honestly I spend more than that in regular expenses some months. (sob)

Q5: What is the hardest horsey-related decision you’ve had to make lately?
Last fall, when Tristan had his worst colic ever (and he is prone to them, so I am familiar with the range of possibilities) I had the drive to the vet clinic to decide whether he was a surgical candidate, and I decided no. It was, to that point, the worst night of my life, but has since been eclipsed several times, so.

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Waiting until it cooled down was the right call.

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Q6: What’s something you feel you can’t live without in your routine?
Tea. But I’m not sure that’s what this question is looking for. I guess my current answer to this would be my Apple Watch, which I freaking adore. (I wrote that post dithering, and yes, I bought one! I’ll do a recap at some point.)

Q7: What’s on your horsey-related calendar for the rest of the summer?
Lameness vet out in September, lessons ongoing, not a whole lot in particular.

Q8: What’s one thing you would willingly change about your horse?
I wish he were more forward-minded and/or generally cooperative. The part where he spends the first 15 minutes of every ride telling me how much he hates me is a real self-esteem-killer some days.

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Tristan’s happy place.

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Q9: What is something you most want to improve on with you and your horse?
Generally how forward he is and how fit I am.

Q10: What has been your [current] horses most severe injury?
LOLOL, this is like a smorgasbord of options. Ummmmmmm, most involved and expensive would be his broken coffin bone + surgery. Closest to dying would be one of his two bad colics (one in 2008, one this past fall). Weirdest would have to be his tail cancer.

Q11: What do you feel your biggest downfall is as a rider?
Laziness and lack of commitment. It’s sometimes too easy for me to just not go some nights. And then when I get there sometimes I have to force myself into working hard instead of just hacking out.

Q12: What feeds your motivation?
I just…I need to do it. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I don’t have a really good answer. I need it like I need breathing. Part of me would be empty and gone if I didn’t have Tris and/or horses. Being in the saddle is the only time in my entire life when my brain isn’t firing in all directions like a rabid weasel.


2019 Goals Update

Some actual progress in August!


  • Get to First Level – well, we’re officially not going to show at First Level this year, but I feel pretty good about more of the pieces now; I’ve been reading the tests and playing with some of the movements in our rides and we’ve got all the pieces, it’s just a question of putting them in a row. (Isn’t it always?)
  • Take 12 lessons – now at 11/12, with #12 already scheduled.
  • Volunteer at 6 events – 1/6, no more yet
  • Get & share 1 video per month of rides – got some video from August! It’s not great. It was a shit ride. But it is useful.


  • Finish house interior work – nothing in August, scheduled to pick back up in September
  • Finish funding emergency fund – DONE!
  • Pay off vision correction surgery – 92% done, going to try to stretch this to finish in September, we’ll see
  • Try 24 new recipes – Up to 22/24 with mango and grapefruit freezer jam the new ones!
  • Write 20k on Morgan book – 8k words written, and I have both made an initial commitment to write an article (!) and scheduled another talk for a group of experts that I’m sure will run me ragged but in a GOOD way (!!!)


  • Get to 500 sales on Etsy – 370/500 (honestly this was a helluva reach goal and I might actually make it???)
  • Separate website and social media for business
  • Take accounting class
  • Develop 3 new patterns – calling this done
  • Have a total of 7-10 items for sale – much less invested in this goal now, as it doesn’t seem to be the right path for the business right now

Pondering Joint Support

I don’t have any real conclusions as yet, but I’m evaluating Tristan’s overall joint support program.

The basic facts:

  • Tris is 24, though a relatively lightly-used 24; he was started at 10, and did low-level eventing for his first eight years and low-level dressage the last six.
  • We’re asking him to work harder than he’s ever worked before right now, and he’s starting to act out in ways that might be pain-related (or they might be brain-related)
  • On the other hand, he’s also got to keep in work to stay healthy and happy and I’m not ready to retire him, so dressage-as-physical-therapy is the name of the game for hopefully many more years yet.
  • His current diet is very minimal; he gets a little bit of grain, a ration balancer, electrolytes, Prascend, and vitamin E. July-September he gets cetirizine to fight his allergies. The rest is hay and grass.
  • Current joint support is monthly Pentosan injections that have been spotty since about January.
  • Spring 2018 he did a lameness eval with our vet just to make sure everything was okay. He flexed “mildly” positive in both LH & RH in the trot, but nothing to write home about – basically old man stiffness that the vet just shrugged at.
  • He has had several chiropractic evaluations and three different vets have all told me that they basically adjusted nothing and he was fine in that department.

What I’m thinking about:

  • For sure we are going to have the general lameness vet out in probably September to do a general review. I don’t have a specific complaint, just a general “he’s kicking out more than usual when we ask him to move forward, but really mostly in the warmup”
  • We are definitely going to re-establish a firm Pentosan schedule for him, probably do another loading dose (1 shot per week for four weeks) and maybe think about every two weeks instead of monthly.
  • I’m also considering Cosequin ASU; he had a brief trial on that about a year and a half ago and went spectacularly well on it, but I didn’t keep him on it long enough to get a strong proof of causation, just correlation. (I got a free tub of it through a giveaway.)
  • The biggest question mark is whether the vet recommends joint injections. Question the first, which joints? (Probably hocks.) Question the second, with what? I’m wary of steroid injections given his (mild and completely under control) Cushings.

So, here we are. Pondering.

Anyone have anything they’re doing right now that they’re really happy with?


To show or not to show?

Please note:

I wrote this entire goddamn post before double-checking the show date and realizing that I have to work that day so there’s no chance of me going to the show. Awesome. Enjoy my meanderings anyway.


Mostly, lately, my answer to showing has been “meh.” I don’t need the expense, stress, or fuss.

I said I would try and get Tristan out at First Level this year. I’ve been working pretty hard toward that. (Not as hard as I should, as always.)

Pro column: it would be an actionable thing I could do, something to measure our progress outside of a lesson.


Then again, in the last couple of rides the wheels have not just come off the bus they have disappeared to another goddamn county. Like, I’m not even sure we ever had wheels.

Con column: completely embarrassing ourselves.

There’s a home schooling show coming up on the Sunday before Labor Day. It’d be in a ring we ride and school in all the time. Fizzy show atmosphere without the expense of hauling out.

Pro column: easy and relatively cheap (like $50 or so all told)


But what’s the point? What do we even have to prove? I’m in a nasty little mental cycle right now – a lot of people are out and showing and doing cool things and getting better and so on, and I just keep trying to convince my horse to please for fuck’s sake accept the bit and bend.

Con: general life malaise

Though, it’s always nice to find an excuse to wear the fancy show clothes. If I can find them. And get them clean.

Pro and con: show clothes

Decisions, decisions.