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.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Restarting the Orphan

I have been doing my "thing" all day.  Groceries, feed, supplies, website.......  basically anything that isn't horsey.  Ick.  But it has to be done.

So, I looked at the clock, and realized I was running out of daytime.  5:45pm!  Eeesh!  I tore around looking for socks, realize that some cat decided that my basket of clean laundry was now a litter box!  Man, that just makes me so mad.  Mad enough to.... wash the clothes again.  The kitties are all "barn kitties".  That means they showed up in the barn, were brought to the vet, checked over, dewormed, vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and then made into lovely house cats.  See, I had outdoor cats.  They died.  Each time it happened in my life it broke my heart.  When we moved here, I thought it was a nice little neighborhood, but tried to keep my kitties inside on basic principle.  Indoor cats live longer.

Something happened, I'm not sure what, and the kitties broke out.  The "kittens" (A group of 4 kittens left by their mother in our barn) all loved it.  Most of the cats were safe, stayed off the road, and they all seemed happier.  So, I let them stay outside.  Then Persphone disappeared.  Every one is back inside, locked in, and NOT happy about it.  The laundy is my punishment for jailing them.

At any rate, I found clean socks, threw on my paddock boots, grabbed a halter, and headed out to the FAR back corner of the property.  Yep, the horses were as far from the barn as possible.  I grabbed Cayenne, and wandered back up to the barn.

Now, Cayenne is my orphan "filly".  She's 5 now, or will be soon.  Evidently, when she was born, her dam prolapsed her uterus.  That's bad.  That's very bad.  The mare had to be put down shortly after.  There's Cayenne, a lovely little bay filly, who should have been a buckskin, super small, and just as happy as can be, but no mother.  Her pedigree is nice, but not the most fashionable out there (a bit older lines, but good ones, including Hotrodder's Jet Set).  Her owner was away at the Canadian Nationals, and there was no option for her.  He asked the vets to either find her a home, or put her down.  The vet immediately thought of me.

I get this call, "Hey Heather?  I have an orphan horse, can you take it?  I think it's a quarter horse, maybe it's black or bay?"  Yeah, I'm a sucker.  I said "Sure! Bring it over".

At this point I had just started dating Jae.  He had just talked me into getting into the horse business.  And to top it all off, I was supposed to meet up with my ex husband that day to settle somethings.  Yeah, guess who got put off?  Yep, you're right!  The ex.

Cayenne arrived at my house smaller then my dogs.  She was ADORABLE!  Here she is with my mother.  She's about a week old in this picture.

So, this little bundle of joy became "my foal".  I fed her, i let her wander around with me, and basically I tried hard to treat her the way a mare would.  Only difference is that I also taught her manners.

At around 3 months of age, she went to live with the "big" horses.  Mainly my gelding Boo, Leah's gelding Jaz (who was previously in my family) and Doodles.  Cayenne grew up to be a wonderful horse, and her only orphan issues were related to growth, and preferring humans to horses.  She still likes humans more.

But, my dear Cayenne didn't grow well.  While she drank a ton of milk replacer, it wasn't the same as mare's milk.  She was sickly, mainly colic and diarrhea from the milk replacer, and her genetics didn't help much either.  Her sire and dam are listed as 14.0 hands.  I'd be shocked if they were really that tall.

And this is the absolute cutest/scary picture of a baby horse ever! That's how she slept.  When she got tired, she simply collapsed, and slept until she was ready to play again.  I promise, she's perfectly fine.  I know she looks dead - she's not.

So, I waited to start Cayenne.  As a late 3 year old, she was 13.2, but wide enough to carry me.  I put the basics on her.  We spent no more then 15 minutes under saddle, and most of that was at the walk.  Then last year I was out of the saddle from March onward.  No riding for the baby.

I tried to get Cayenne started back under saddle a few months ago.  Brought her up, got her lunging, and she was doing great!  Then I lunged her with the saddle on one day, and she had a hissy fit.  She was in heat, she really wanted to check out the stallions, and did NOT want to work that day.  When she decided to take off like a rocket straight away from me, I rolled her.

No, I'm not a huge fan of rolling a horse.  I ONLY do it if the horse is bolting, or striking.  In Cayenne's case, it was more fluke then anything.  She ran, I tried to turn her, she reared as I pulled on the lunge line, and BOOM, Cayenne goes rolling.  On the upside, it did bring her mind back to earth.

The next day, I brought her back out to do some light lunging.  She was lame.  GAH!  The farrier was out the next day, and checked for a stone bruise.  She acted painful in both fronts, and of COURSE it was the weekend.  Yes, I can call my vet out on the weekend, but she was sound at the walk, and he deserves a few hours at least with his family.  It could wait till Monday.

Over the weekend I stretched out Cayenne.  I would grab a front leg and pull it forward and up.  Repeat with other front leg.  I would do carrot stretches, and I did a LOT of massaging and linament.  By Monday she was much better, so I prescribed 2 weeks off.  This week was the end of those 2 weeks.

So, there I was in the barn tacking up the smallest "horse" on the property.  Yeah, she's really a pony.  I told myself that I needed to stick her for height, but I forgot again.  I'm guessing about 13.3 or 14.0 hands.  I wouldn't be shocked to see 13.2 either though.

Put it this way, Jae is about 6'1".  Yes, that's as big as she is, but she's fatter now.  A LOT fatter.

I groomed her down, fly sprayed her, threw on the saddle and checked for fit a few times.  I can't believe that the western saddle I own fits her.  I didn't expect it to, but it's a good fit now.  Previously I had to double pad and use a shim, so I'm guessing that she finally filled out along the topline and I just never noticed my baby growing up.  I have to say, she stood like a champ for being tacked up.  I couldn't have asked for better from any horse.  At one point I actually took off the cross ties, and just left her standing in the alley while I grabbed a few extra accessories, such as sugar cubes to make the bit taste better, and a crop for some forward.

We plodded out to the arena, and I walked her up to the mounting block.  She saw it, and stepped right into position!  I checked everything agian, and then put a foot in the stirrup and laid over her, letting her take my full weight.  She closed her eyes and started napping.  I asked her to move off while still leaning over (handy trick if you're not sure how the horse will react).  Since I hadn't ridden her more then 10 times, and it has been over a year ago, I was playing it safe.  She was slow to walk out, but besides walking like a drunk sailor, she was fine.  We repeated this a few times, then I swung up.  Of course, Cayenne was still just perfect.

We made laps, we made circles.  At some point I gave up on the direct reining, and started showing her neck reining.  She gets it, because she mainly goes off my seat and legs.  Might as well just train her to neck rein now, right?  Saves us from going back to all that walk work!  I was SO happy with her.  Besides a few moments of pinned ears because we were NOT eating the hay left over from the boys being in the arena, she had no complaints.  I rode a good 25 minutes, making turns, working on straightness, halts, and backing up.  Not once in that whole time did she make a mistake that wasn't due to lack of training (my fault!).  My little pony was simply perfect.

I really don't want to sell this baby.  but if I find a home for her that's better then mine though, I will sell her in a heart beat.  I have no intention of breeding her, and well, she's really not breeding quality in my mind.  So, with as many horses as I have, I'd prefer for my baby to have her own people, and get spoiled even more, and every single day!  I do think she'd make a lovely little kid's pony, and could probably be a nice hunter.  I'll never have children, so, I'll be listing her on the website just as soon as I feel she's safe enough under saddle.  

At the rare this little girl is learning though, that shouldn't be long!  I'm SO happy with her, and I had such a lovely ride today.  I have no complaints, and I'm looking forward to riding her again tomorrow!


  1. Cayenne is such a sweetie. She needs a little girl to love her to pieces.

  2. Doesn't she though? I could just see some 9 year old girl taking her over hill and dale, like most of us wished we could do. The way she's working out, who ever gets her will be VERY lucky!

  3. Agreed. She would also be good for a smaller, older rider. You know me, I like 'em that height.

  4. Agreed. She would also be good for a smaller, older rider. You know me, I like 'em that height.