A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses

I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.

Friday, May 7, 2010

And today, I blame the wind.

Nothing like wind. Blowing, sand throwing wind. ICK!

So, I decided that with all the long feet, and the sand blowing in the arena like miniature razor blades, today was a good day to do laundry. Tomorrow is farrier day, and after that we'll be back in business.

Found out that Rover has windpuffs, also called Windgalls. They are considered a cosmetic defect as long as they do not cause lameness or have heat. Rover has neither. He IS sore from a bite from Spot, and the start of thrush/white line in his left front. Constant picking, thrush treatment, and pasture rest is making him "feel better" though. Yeah, and I'm sure all that spring grass growing isn't hurting him at ALL!

Today I came to a decision.

With all the well bred horses being so hard to sell, and me being involved with draft crosses, I'm going to slow my breeding (in the future, I've already stopped until the market picks up) and if I end up with too many open stalls, I'll just pick up horses that need to be upgraded.

Here's my beef though. When you buy, train, fatten, and resell horses, that makes you a horse trader.... right? So, me, I'm a horse trader. I'm not a BAD horse trader though! Honest! I put the hours into the horses, I put weight on them, I take good care of them, and I love them. I refuse to sell them to people who do not meet my minimum requirements, or who just don't match with that horse. I figure that I'm simply recycling the "unwanted" horses, and making them into a highly valuable commodity.

And yet, the market does not like to support horse traders. Mainly this is because of all the bad people who use shady selling tactics, like drugging horses to sell them as child safe. Me, I offer a buy back clause for my horses, as well as the option to return them at any time. Buyers have a 14 day money back option, or a one year buy back at "fair market value" which means I just might pay more then I sold the horse for, but protects me incase the horse was neglected, injured, or such. I'll still TAKE the horse, but I'm not paying full price for a horse that will need 5 thousand in rehab costs. I think it's a fair offer, and most of my clients do as well.

So, we need a new title for people like me. Upgraders? Horse rehabilitators? I have no idea.

I have the skill set to retrain horses with a rather large amount of problems. I'm young enough that I can still get thrown (at least for a few more years!) and it makes me feel good to know that I may have completely changed a horse's life.

At the same time, I still want to breed. I breed horses because for me, there wasn't anything like what I wanted. So instead of simply complaining, I worked to MAKE what I want. With a degree in biology, and an emphasis in genetics, I kinda know what I'm doing... as well as any one, I think. After talking to J, we don't see why we can't do both. He's on board with helping horses in need, and I like the idea of doing something to give back to the animals I love so dearly. I figure that each horse I train and place in a quality home, is one horse that will not have to stare down the alley of the slaughter house in fear.

Of course, with that said, I am not anti-slaughter. Well, I kinda am. For me, the slaughter issue is neither black, nor white. I really wish that there was no need for horse slaughter, and that people could be counted upon to do the right thing. But I also know that humans suck. People are greedy and selfish, and we are unlikely to change that. The people who are willing to sell their horses to slaughter are the ones that are unlikely to do the right thing if given the chance. They would rather delude themselves that ol' Dobbin got a great home, or ignore him until they find him dead, then delude themselves that "it was his time". Having to choose to call the vet, and to actually BE responsible is not in their personality type.

So, how do we change it? I can only see one option. Horsey pounds. Places where horses are taken, and if not adopted within a week, they are humanely euthanized. Sounds great in theory, but I can already hear the screams of "too much government" or "why should **I** have to pay for someone else not taking care of their animals?". Because I think that the "what's in it for ME" crowd would never support taxes to pay for such a wonderful and humane service, the only reasonable answer is slaughter. Yes, it's horrible. No, I wouldn't wish it on any horse, but at the same time, a week of fear, misery, pain and suffering is much kinder then a month, or a year, or a lifetime.

It really is a pretty grey thought.


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