Friday, November 24, 2017

Azul Island in Real Life

Cueva del Fantasma, an extraordinary cave in the heart of the Venezuelan jungle.

Or, Azul Island, where the Island Stallion hangs out.

You decide!


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

New items on the Bel Joeor Metier Etsy shop!

This blog has been moved to Posts will be cross-posted until December 1, when this blog location will become defunct. Make sure to update your bookmarks!

I've added a bunch of new bags in time for Black Friday!

Remember, through November 30, enter code OPENING2017 at checkout for 10% off your order.

These aren't all of the things I added. Click on the pictures to go through to the items they represent.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bel Joeor is moving!

I've been thinking about this for a LONG time, and now it's official.

Bel Joeor is moving!

Please bookmark the new site,

Until December 1, I'll cross-post each new post on both this blog and the new site. Each post here will have a reminder to follow me to the new site.

After December 1, all new content will be exclusively at the new website.

I'm excited for the change, and I'll see you over there!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

House Post: Sometimes, home ownership is the worst

So, a couple of weeks ago we had this big huge storm. It wreaked havoc throughout northern New England; some record high number of people were without power. We lost it for about 48 hours.

It was very exciting, really. I have not that many complaints; loads of people were without power for far longer, and I had other resources to make food. The fridge and new chest freezer came through fine, and it wasn't really cold yet so we didn't miss the heat.


We did also have two trees come down in our backyard. One was long dead. The other was mostly still alive. Both fell in nearly the perfect way so as not to cause damage, and only be frustrating.

One tree is obvious. The second is a bit tough to see in this picture, but you can see it leaning against the back fence if you follow the fenceline to about the center of the picture. Directly behind that fenceline is a steep slope, at the base of which is the tree.

Earlier this week, a friend stopped by with his chainsaw and took down the leaning tree so as to relieve pressure on the fence.

So then we had two trees in the backyard more fully than before.

Little brindle mutt for scale.

Then, yesterday, while I was at work staying warm and cozy and eating leftover Halloween candy, the husband took apart the trees.


And, you know what? We got lucky. There was no real damage. The dead tree could have come down right on our neighbor's house, and it's been on my mind to get rid of. Everything worked out about as well as it possibly could have.

But seriously, what a pain in the ass, and a not-insignificant chunk of time spent taking care of this that would have been better spent on other things! Sometimes houses are dumb.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Weekly Blog Roundup for Saturday, November 17, 2018

This week's featured product from my Etsy shop!

And as a reminder, you can sign up to get these blog links in your email on Friday afternoon.

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HOW YOU KNOW YOU HAVE A HEART HORSE from Three Day Adventures with Horses

LandSafe Clinic – Day 1 & LandSafe Clinic – Day 2 from DIY Horse Ownership
I loooooooove these clinics and these are terrific recaps.

 from The Printable Pony
Horse shopping is so hard.

Lund Saddlery Calfskin Stirrup Leathers Review from Patently Bay
Lund is getting a lot of attention right now, and these leathers look gorgeous.

I need to do my own version of this...

Equestrian gifts for under $20 from Hand Gallop
A really great list, and I'm not just saying that because my own things are on there.

Dante and the vacuum from Viva Carlos
Horse vacuum = living the dream.

Best of HN: This OTTB’s Second Career in Horseback Hawking is #Goals from Eventing Nation

Horse Hunters Episode 1 & Episode 2 from DIY Horse Ownership
Goooooorgeous farms. I covet.

Product Review: Dublin Performance Tights from Journey with a Dancing Horse
Color me intrigued. I was sold at "fleece lined," tbh.

58 Equestrian Gifts under $25 from The Printable Pony
Awesome list!

Grids and Gymnastics from In Omnia Paratus
Pole grids are my jam, especially in winter.

Half Halts and Forward from Not So Speedy Dressage
I struggle with half halts and keeping forward, so this was good to think about.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Small Business Saturday Suggestions?

Your input eagerly sought!

I'd like to put together a list of equestrian-related businesses for people to shop from this coming Small Business Saturday.


Do you have a favorite small equestrian business? Please comment below with its name and website, and maybe a line or two about why you love it!

Saturday's links roundup will be entirely small business related. (Blog links will be held for the following week.)

Comment below, please!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2pointober spoils!

The prizes are here!

I am so easily pleased, you guys. I made goofy happy faces at the box and showed it to everyone in the tack room. Then, of course, immediately put the saddle pad on Tris for a Sunday afternoon road hack. He picked up a happy big trot and maintained it without any urging. I'm declaring it a magic saddle pad!

Huge, huge thanks to PONY'TUDE and 'Fraidy Cat Eventing for hosting the contest this year!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Phillip Dutton at Equine Affaire

I kind of lost track of time while shopping and only saw the second half of Phillip Dutton's clinic on using ringwork to prepare for cross country, but what I saw was really terrific.

I had sat through nearly all of Julie Goodnight's clinic earlier that day on the canter, and was really disappointed at the amount of time she spent covering extreme basics (like...what a canter looks like, and how you have a right and left lead, and how to cue the canter. yeah. that was the first HOUR) so I was thrilled to see that Dutton had a group of extremely capable riders and was kicking their butts.

He worked with individual riders, setting up broad exercises but then addressing each horse and rider pair's challenges as they worked through it. These were NOT easy exercises - think one stride extreme slices, and one stride right angles, and big wide corners. He had them up and out of their saddles and in a true cross-country gallop to approach some jumps. It was really cool to see, and to see the riders and the horses improve in just a few minutes.

Here are three of the exercises that I watched.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

House Post: Basement Door

Dear me of 10 years ago: someday, you're going to be VERY excited about getting a door installed.

Let's talk about this #@$#@%@$ door.

It's between the new garage space and the main basement space, and per code, needs to be therefore a 90 minute fire door.

I had no idea how expensive doors could be until this saga. I've been dragging my feet on buying it for two years now. They're anywhere from $350-$500. For a frigging door. Not even a decorative one, either!


A few weeks ago, it finally reached the top of the financial priority list, and I had a free day. After some intensive Googling, I located the door I needed in New Hampshire, for $295. So, a friend and I took my truck to New Hampshire and picked up this door.

On Sunday, there were 5 of this particular door (size, fire-rating, correct inswing) in stock. When we arrived on Monday late morning, there was only one, and it had a handwritten note saying "no hardware."

Ummmmmmmm. Cue a 45 minute runaround with a very patient salesman during which we printed out the install directions from the internet and combed through them meticulously to figure out what the heck that meant. Eventually, we determined that it meant that it was missing the 2.5" wood screws that would usually come with it. I politely asked for a discount, and they gave me 10% off AND a free package of the necessary screws, bringing the door down to $260. SWEET.

Then the door came home, and sat in my basement for two weeks, and then my parents came to visit and my amazing father installed it!!!

Now that the furnace is on, this door blocks the last of the drafts from one side of the house to the other, and it's fantastic. 

Not to mention the entire garage project is tantalizingly close to being finished...!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Weekly Blog Roundup

The Audacity of a Plan from 'Fraidy Cat Eventing
I like this. Good argument in favor of planning, lots of things for me to absorb personally.

The Hounds are Blessed from Equine Ink
Looooooove blessings of the animals. This is a nice horsey twist.

Product Review, Big Dee's padded halter and lead from Weanie Eventer
No such thing as too many halter reviews. They get trashed so regularly that I replace them more than almost any other piece of equipment, so I always have my eye on what's next.

How to Mount Things in Your TrailerProduct Review: The Organized Barn and Trailer HOSS System from Cob Jockey

GFPC Fun Show: Wyatt from The Roaming Rider
So cute. Sooooooooo cute!

Charles de Kunffy Clinic Notes from The $900 Facebook Pony
Really good notes, and some things I'm going to be thinking about for my next dressage ride.

Show Season by the Numbers from Pony Express
All the data!

DIY: How to Make a Roll Top Horse Jump from DIY Horse Ownership
I made a roll top with Pony Clubbers once. It was hugely rewarding, if a lot of work!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Would you take out a loan to buy a horse?

Finances are very much on my mind lately (I have a horse: when aren't they?), especially after spending yesterday at Equine Affaire and seeing loads of lovely, expensive horses for sale.

I'm going to assume that if you're a horse person you have gone into debt for something at some point. Maybe for something good, like a new truck or trailer or even a farm. Maybe for something bad, like unexpected vet bills or a new saddle that had to happen sooner rather than later. I shelled out $3k+ in vet bills this summer: I hear you.

In addition to finances, I've also devoted a lot of time to thinking about what my next horse will be like. Don't worry - Tristan is doing great, and not going anywhere. But he's 22, and I'm an obsessive planner. I have some really specific things that I want, and those things are probably not going to be cheap.

I paid $150 for Tristan. $50 of that was a Christmas gift from my family. I often joke that literally everything about him - from his bridle to one set of shoes to my helmet - has cost more than he did.

I will almost certainly not be going that route with my next horse.

So, I ask you:

Would you ever go into debt to buy a horse? Take out a personal bank loan? Pay a broker in installments? Jointly purchase with a trainer and pay back over time? HAVE you ever done this?

I'm genuinely curious. Please let me know if you would, and if so, what the circumstances would be. Or if you have done it, how did it work and did it work out?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Equine Affaire in Springfield! Anyone going?

I've just finalized plans to make a last-minute trip to Equine Affaire in Springfield, MA for tomorrow, November 9.

I'm mostly looking for some shopping: Tristan needs a new rain/turnout sheet. I need a good bargain.

I'll also have my eye out for one or two other specific things at a good price; I need to make a list and then winnow it down.

I will probably attend a number of the seminars as well and take some notes. I'm particularly looking forward to hearing Philip Dutton - I've never seen him teach before. Gymnastic lines (his topic for Thursday) are not as useful to me anymore but I figure anything he has to say is worth listening to.

Will anyone else be around on Thursday? Want to stroll the exhibitor floor, grab lunch, audit something together?

Email me: beljoeor[at]gmail[dot]com!

Monday, November 6, 2017

October Goals Update

Okay, time to recap October's progress


January Recap
February Recap
March Recap
April Recap
May Recap
June Recap
July Recap
August & September Recap

Horse Goals - original post here

1. Put hands on my horse 5x a week - Mixed again; some weeks were terrific, some weeks were awful. Work continues to get in the way; I'm not home before 9pm 2-3 days a week at this point.

2. Be less perfunctory - Blergh.

3. Aim toward dressage schooling shows - This goal is officially defunct; no more shows left!

4. Take more lessons - No. :(

5. Horse-specific income stream / funding emergency fund - 

HOORAY! With the Etsy launch, I have the first steps toward a horse-specific income.

I also sold some of my bags & saddle covers, as well as my own used tack and apparel, at our fall tack sale and made enough to cover Tristan's unexpected farrier bill. I'm really pleased with myself on this goal right now.

I've also stabilized and started to gain ground on emergency savings. \o/

Emergency fund: $4,350/$15,000
Tristan's savings: $115/$1,500

6. Do more thoughtful work - Yes. I'm generally pleased with this.

7. Get more media - I've done some great pictures lately!

Life Goals - original post here

1. Pay off car - Only $280 left!!!

2. Read 75 books - 79/75, goal is officially reached!

Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson
The Well of Ascension, by Brandon Sanderson
The Evil Wizard Smallbone, by Delia Sherman
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
Stitches by Anne Lamott
The Eagle by Rosemary Sutcliff

Everyone should read A Room of One's Own. Read it. Now. NOW. Why are you still reading this stupid blog post when you could be reading Virginia Woolf lay waste to the patriarchy?

3. Revive history blogs - sigh.

4. Do better about food - Still doing well! On day 202 of tracking my food as of yesterday.

5. Decorate the house - I bought three frames for the art we bought on the honeymoon and have measured the rest to get them frames!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

House Post: Let there be heat!

I hung in there for a long time, you guys. I made a personal vow not to turn the heat on until November 1, and I pretty darn well stuck to it. It got as low as 57 in the house, but overall we had a pretty good fall and it hovered between 60-63 at the coldest.

You may - and probably will - think me crazy, but we keep the house at 60 in the winter, and 57 overnight anyway, so it was pretty on par.

The furnace guy came on Halloween morning, and we added another piece to our heating puzzle for the winter: bringing the gas stove in the game room back online. There's no heat essentially in the back half of the first floor - kitchen, bathroom, game room, man cave. I think when the previous owners renovated the kitchen, they took out a radiator - based on what I can see of the pipes & the leftover radiators we have.

Until this past summer, the game room & man cave had zero insulation. The gas stove that heated that part of the house would have been pumping heat basically straight outside. The floor was icy cold in the winter.

Then, this summer, we got insulation put in! Huzzah! Then we finished the man cave!

So, this year, when we had the furnace guy out, I had him look over the gas stove - out of operation for close to three years at this point, since the house sat empty for a year before we bought it - and fire it back up.

The animals are pretty sure this is the best present I've ever gotten for them.

Oh, and now that it's November, the furnace is officially on.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Weekly Blog Roundup

Gratuitous self-linkage time: here's one of the bags from my new Etsy store! Click on the picture to go to its listing.

WPRA World Finals from The South Dakota Cowgirl
Whole 'nother world from my usual, but so cool.

Blog Hop: My First Horse from Pony Express
The story and the pictures = <3

My definition of a heart horse from The Jumping Percheron
This is just wonderful.

Cold Hands from The Feral Red Horse
Ah, winter gloves, the perennial thorn in my side.

An Infographic View of the Year of Photography from The House on the Hill
What a cool way to display your progress!

Registry Choices from Hand Gallop
I loved reading and thinking about this, since it's not a problem I expect to ever personally encounter.

In memory of Andromaque from Eventing Nation
I loved her. I saw her go at Bromont. What a terrifically game little mare. I was so hoping to see more of her foals.

Day 01: When and Why You Started Riding from Fat Buckskin in a Little Suit
Super cool new blog hop from Clover Ledge Farm, and a really good post entry.

On the Injured List from PONY'TUDE
Gnarly injury photos + story ahead.

A Horse Called Bast from Guinness on Tap
We do so agonize over names!

Small Business Spotlight & Giveaway: Two Socks Designs from The $900 Facebook Pony
Some very cool products and a great giveaway - check it out!

EV114: dressing for eventing dressage from Hand Gallop
SUPER useful!

Friday, November 3, 2017

2pointober Glory!

I'm stupid pleased with myself this year, guys.

Last year I did ok; with a baseline of 47 seconds, my final time was 5:12 and I was really sweating it to get that out. I started the month off with a better general fitness but sucked hard at my riding goals by the end of the month and did not cover myself in glory at the finish line.

In my defense, according to all my Facebook memories it had started snowing by the third week in October last year, and this year I have a tomato plant trying real hard to bud out right now.

SO. This year, my baseline was worse, at 0:25. That stung. I thought I'd been doing ok with my overall riding fitness, but nope.

I attacked that goal with a vengeance. I committed to practicing every day, every ride. I practiced in my jump saddle. I practiced in my dressage saddle. I rode it in the walk and trot and canter, inside and outside, uphill and down, in all three rings at the farm.

In the last 10 days, I have had to really knuckle down to get my times in, because that early practice faded when I ran into several very long days at work and lost the will to do pretty much anything.

But this story has a happy ending!

Week 1: 0:25
Week 2: 3:32
Week 3: 5:35
Week 4: 8:12


I am stupid pleased with my progress and really proud of sticking to it. I actually wrote most of this post before finding out that I won. I was just that happy to have improved so much. Getting Reserve Champion was the icing on the cake.

And now?

No-Stirrup November, my favorite! (Yes, really!)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Announcing Bel Joeor Metier Etsy Shop!

With huge thanks to everyone who has helped out and offered advice, ideas, feedback, and more along the way, I'm really excited to announce that I've opened an Etsy shop!

The first thing you should know about it is something I'm really happy about, which is that 10% of all profits will be going to Tristan's rescue: Ever After Mustang Rescue in Biddeford, Maine. I give to them when I can, but money has been tight this year, so I'm really excited to create a way by which I can give them more. They do a great job with a really difficult job.

And now, the shop!

To start off with, I have two types of listings: handy bags and fleece saddle covers.

The handy bags are small bags, about the size of a cosmetic bag, with tough twill fabric on the outside and flannel on the inside. They're embroidered in fun colors with equestrian designs. A few bloggers helped me with the prototype and did reviews; Carly at Poor Woman Showing and Jen at Cob Jockey both reviewed the ones they received as part of my testing group.

They're $15 each and I hope you'll consider them when you need a new bag or a fun horsey gift! If there's a color or design you're hoping to see or would like to custom-order, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Clicking on the images below brings you to their listings - and there are loads more on the website.

 Buy this bag!

Next up, fleece saddle covers! I had a lot of fun picking fabric for these.

They're lined with a paracord elastic that's really tough and will keep the cover itself snug. I adjusted both the cut of the saddle cover and the length of the elastic based on feedback from my testers, so these have been workshopped to perfection!

They should fit any size English saddle, but if you have anything especially big send me a message and I can make you a custom one that's a bit bigger. (By that I mean 18.5"+).

These are selling for $20, and here are some examples - click on the links to go to their listings, and there's loads more!

If you've read through all of that, you get a reward!

Enter the code OPENING2017 at checkout, and get 10% off through November!

I'll post here periodically, but if you want to get email announcements of new products, you can sign up for the Bel Joeor Metier newsletter below. Probably the first email will go out when I add new things to the shop, and my plan is to do that about mid-November.

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