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, June 25, 2010

A bad day

The first person to take me under her wing, and help me learn the horse business was a wonderful woman named Sigrid Rico.  Sig was amazing.  So much knowledge, kindness and patience, and she would gladly share it with any one willing to absorb some.  She also bred the most amazing Appaloosas.  When I started my breeding program, I wanted to breed Appaloosa sport type horses.  Think Chocklate Confetti, JG appaloosas, or Wap Spotted.  I had my amazing stallion Spot (who was sadly dubbed with the moniker "The Polecat") and needed some lovely mares for him.  I had a horse in my head that I wanted.  Didn't know if she existed, but I figured I'd find her one day.  I called her "my dream filly".

This horse had to be a leopard (for the genetics) or a fewspot, with perfect conformation, TALL, and long necked.  Of course, the image was much more detailed then that, but those were my "must haves" to make the horse more then a good horse, and into my "dream filly".  Then I found out that Sig had her.  A lovely filly who matched everything I wanted.  A few months later, I was offered a chance to buy her.  Her name is KCF Olympic Dream, and she is my dream filly.

So started my business with Sig.  I bought the best broodmares money could buy from her (Arden, Dream, and leased Dove).  Along with those horses, I got a good friend, and more knowledge about app bloodlines, foundation breeding for quality conformation, and basic "horse sense".  In February of this year, Sig passed away.  It was sudden, it was out of the blue, and it shocked me.

With out hesitating, I accepted 2 of Sig's horses.  Quagga, the stallion, and Station, the dam of my dream filly.  Both older (16 and 17) both healthy, and both amazing horses.  I felt blessed to be the one to care for them.  I was told that Quagga was Sig's baby, and every one expected him to have problems.  Instead it was Station.

The horses arrived, and both were well behaved.  Station though, never did settle in.  She was good, she learned the routine, but I had been to Sig's, and saw how Station acted with her person.  Station never would love on me like that.  The closest she came was Jae, whom she liked.  Station learned how to push Jae's buttons, coming to the fence and whinnying at him - he would then jump up, run her to the barn, and give her anything she desired.

Station also loved the barn.  She did NOT liked being pastured for too long.  In her mind, 2 hours of turn out was plenty.  Of course, she was stalled next to Quagga, her only friend from home.  Quagga gets turned out at night usually, because he sunburns, so Station enjoyed barn time with him.

She eventually became friends with Ash, my older TB mare.  They were never close, but Ash took care of her, and showed her the best grazing spots.  Station still always ran to the fence when someone was out, begging to be back in her stall.  Almost begging me to just take her home.

Yes, she got spoiled.  I tried to be there for her, I tried to ease the transition.  Poor Station had only ever known "home" as Sig's place.  A while ago, she began having problems.  Temperatures hit the high 90s, with heat indexes above 100. Station suffered.  I found her uncomfortable, and in the first stages of heat stress.   We cared for her as best we could.  From vet checks, to cooling her with running water every half hour, I wanted to do my best for my mentor's horse!

Medically, she should have been getting better.  Mentally, Station wasn't.   When I saw her yesterday, she was sweating finally, but it wasn't right.  Called the vet, he said Banamine.  It barely helped.  Called back, and he couldn't get out, so I hauled her in.

I can't say what it was, but I can say she didn't look "right".  Her gums were pink, her gut sounds were good, her temperature was normal.  Her breathing was slightly increased, but nothing significant.  It was a hot day.  Medically speaking, Station was "fine".  My gut said she wasn't.

I expected a fight to get her loaded in the trailer.  She didn't fight, she walked right in.  Half way to the clinic, a storm dumped on us.  Poking through pouring rain, she never fussed in the trailer.  Arrived at the clinic, unloaded in a hurry, and darted under the barn.  We had driven out of the storm, and it was catching back up.

Kris, my good friend was supposed to come play ponies.  Instead, she drove behind me in case my lights weren't working (they weren't) and offered a hand as needed.  She snapped some pictures of us waiting.  We needed the rain so badly, but the timing of it was just horrible.  Thanks for being there for me Kris.

Dr. G had just checked Station the day before.  Ironically he said the words "well, it's definitely not colic".

When he came down, he passed a tube, and fluid began coming out.  Reflux.  For those who don't know, this is one of those things you never want to see. 

From the first time I saw Station that morning, I expected a bad outcome.  I didn't expect the diagnosis to be COLIC.  I completely expected to hear organ failure, or some other terminal diagnosis though.  He asked me what I wanted to do, and I asked for more tests.  The medicine said she should NOT have been acting like she was.  A belly tap showed signs of small intestine issues though.  Nothing definitive.

I thought for a second about going to the moon for Station.  While they were running a test, I asked Jae what he thought, I explained how we'd pay for it, and ran a plan by him.  He answered with the best thing he could have "What does Station want?".

Station wanted to be with HER person.  Neither Jae nor I were that.  She wanted Sig.  In her eyes, it was obvious.  Always the perfect lady, and always sweet, she would do anything we asked, but she had never become emotionally invested in us.  In my mind, her heart was broken.

I made the decision.

She was never my horse, but I loved her none the less.  I am thankful that I thought ahead.  I had put her in the halter Sig had chosen for her so long ago.  In her last moments, I was there for her.  I closed her eyes as the drugs kicked in, and told her what a good girl she was, staying calm and happy so she would know nothing else.  With tears in my heart, I sent her to be with Sig, where she wanted to be.  Jae and I stood with her, telling her how good she was, and whispering sweet words until she could hear us no more.

I spent last night questioning myself.  Was it colic all along?  The vets didn't think so, and 2 had seen her.  Could I have done more?  Yes, but I honestly don't feel it would have been right to do so.  Did I let Sig, Jaime, and every one else who trusted me with her down?  I will never know.

For the first time in my life, I honestly believe that I have seen a horse die of a broken heart.  I did my best to keep her from suffering.  God Speed Station.  Ride the winds with Sig.

You are missed my pretty lady.


  1. So very tragically sad. I knew almost from the start of your post what the outcome would be.....but when you wrote, "Station wanted to be with HER person", I couldn't help it. My eyes filled with tears...and I'm stll sitting here...sobbing.

    Sometimes I wonder if that was the relationship Baby Doll and I had. Like Station, she would do most of what I asked, but there was always something missing, as if she wasn't willing to let her guard down and let me in. She was also very reserved with affection towards me, though she would allow me to hug her for just a moment. I wonder if she had a close bond and connection with another person and missed him or her?

    Apache, on the other hand, is my heart horse. If I could have a soulmate in a horse, she would be it. She is always 'in the moment' with me, and seems willing to try and do anything I ask. She never acts reserved and loves me to smother in in affection, and she'll give it right back.
    I never knew that horses could lick their humans affectionatly before I bought Apache.

    Sometimes I'm surprised that we have such a close bond and she's only been my horse for a few months, where it took more than a year before I felt Baby Doll and I had any connection at all.

    I adore Apache with all my heart, and if anything bad happens to her, I know that a part of me will die. I'm crying just typing those words....

    Trust that you did the right thing for Station. I'm picturing your dear friend Sig, smiling and laughing as she gallops across heavenly fields of green grass on her beloved horse Station, whose mane, tail and spirit are flying high full of joy once again to be with her special human.


  2. You made me cry, too! I know she and Sig are having the time of their lives. I'm sorry I couldn't have been there for you.

  3. Definitely makes the tears roll. Such hard decisions to make...I hope you find comfort in knowing your heart was in the right place. The decision was made out of love for Station (and Sig). She was lucky to have good friends take care of her, when her beloved human no longer could.

  4. Even if it wasn't classic colic, something was seriously wrong. I think you took everything into account, and made the best decision you could. That's what our horses need us to do, but that never makes it any easier. Sending good thoughts.

  5. I, too, am shedding some tears. It is so hard to know what to do in those situations, it sounds to me that you made the best decision though. She is with Sig now.

  6. Thank you for the good thoughts everyone. I do appreciate it.

  7. What a hard day you had with some very tough decisions. I think you made the right decision, thinking that alternative treatments may have just put off the inevitable and caused more suffering and heartache. It's tough to let go but it is important for our critters to know when that time has come.
    Rest easy knowing that Station is at peace.

  8. She is happy now. I think you did the right thing. She wanted and needed to go. They why does not matter.

  9. I'm so sorry that you had to go through this. You did the best for her and gave her a dignified end to be with the person that she loved the most.

  10. I'm so sorry that you had to go through this. You did the best for her and gave her a dignified end to be with the person that she loved the most.

  11. She is happy now. I think you did the right thing. She wanted and needed to go. They why does not matter.