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.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I think we're found the concerned party!

Ok, recently I have had issues with Animal Control being called on me.  None of the officers had ANY worries.  Well, we think we're found the concerned party.  Now, I'm not the type to think badly of people.  In fact, my first thought was that it was sweet that she worries about horses, and is willing to do something about it.  I'm starting to lose that feeling.

So, Jae lets a dog out today, and sees someone messing with the horses.  Naturally, he goes over to say hi.  We get a LOT of people who love ponies and want to feed them over the fence.  As owners of an endangered breed, we use this as a chance to educate the public.  I can't tell you how many smiles we have put on kid's faces by letting them come into the barn and pet a foal or nice gelding.  We also explain safety issues, and what they should and should not feed the horses (so many toxic plants out there! so grass and carrots to make it easy on them) how to properly feed a horse so they don't lose fingers, and of course, explain the dangers of being in the pasture!  Nothing cuter then seeing kids bring plastic bags full of hand picked grass, and spend hours feeding horses. 

So Jae's initial though was simply that it was a horse lover.  He walks over, and before he's half way there, she spots him.  She scurried off to her car, and sped away.  He tried to get her plates, but wasn't close enough, but we DID recognize the car.

When I first moved in, we had all kind of trees and brush on the fence lines that made a natural barrier.  Some dingbat would drive up, dump her organic refuse on the side of the road in this brush, and then drive off.  I'm sure she THOUGHT she was feeding the wild life.  *head desk*   What she was doing, was bringing coyotes to my pastures!  She did this every week.  Many times I saw her from the barn, or while riding, and other times I just found the new pile of "coyote bait".

All of the following lead to us getting another rescue.  Maggie Mae.  Some one my mother worked with bought a new property... it came with a free donkey!  She's about 5 years old, doesn't like people (but will take treats) and HATES dogs/coyotes.  Her "owner" said she also chased goats, which he raised, and she had to go.  If we could get her off his property, we could have her.  If not, he was calling AC for an abandoned animal.  Wild donkey.... not a good future for her. 


The rubbish pile lead to coyotes and wild dogs chasing my horses, especially my young foals.  I would wake up at night hearing coyotes CLOSE, and thundering hooves.  This is why I keep big dogs!  A quick scurry out the back with the big dogs barking, and the coyotes ran off.  Not always before an injury.  A couple of minor lacerations, a foal run so hard she was panting, mares with hair pulled out of their tails... I never SAW the coyotes at the horses, but I saw the evidence.

I want to mention here that my dogs are mostly well trained to work with horses.  Suzie is herding trained and works "full time" with me, Anvil wishes he was a herding dog, but while he has the basics, hip dysplasia prevents him from doing much.  Hobbes is too old (17!) Hobo is too forgetful (fox hound, he just runs off following a scent), Sharra is NOT allowed to roam free, and Rowdy... epileptic Rowdy is great with animals, but a medical nightmare.

I also saw stray dogs.  At one point, I look up from my work, and see a red beast JUMPING at my gelding Boo.  Now, many of my horses are dog safe... I mean I have my own pack!  Boo is one of the best.  This mutt (chow mix? About 30 pounds, looked like a muppet) was jumping at Boo's rump, and at one point grabbed his tail and was literally hanging there.  Boo had enough and kicked the dog, just hard enough to make it let go, and not hard enough to hurt it.  Of course, while watching, Jae and I were running across a few acres to help.

The brood mares were NOT happy about the dog, and formed up.  If you've never seen a herd of horses in defense mode, you really don't want to.  Ears pinned, snorting and charging, foals and weak horses in the center.  I have to say, I was so proud of my horses that they banded together to protect each other, even horses that usually won't occupy the same side of the pasture.

After being chased a lot, and trampled once (by Amber, shown chasing Suzie out of the pen) the dog darted off, to where?  The rubbish zone!  Free eats!  I don't know if the rubbish lured the dog, or if it found it later, but I'd prefer to never have to test the theory.  We eventually caught the dog, and found it's owner, and let her know how close to death the dog had come.  We also explained her liability to her (legal to shoot dogs harassing livestock, she's responsible for damages, vet bills, etc) in as nice of a way as possible.  Ok, I don't own a gun..... but we didn't feel the need to bring THAT up.

So, my concerned party is an animal lover, who is not well educated on the realities of wild life and livestock.  I did make a complaint to the police about the rubbish dumping, so it's on record.  There's a description of the person and the car there.  Maybe that's why she's anonymous?  I mean, we live in a SMALL town, and it wouldn't shock me if one of the officers mentioned that she was causing problems.  It stopped shortly after my call after all.

I don't think she's malicious.  I think she really dose want to help, and she really does think that there's a problem.  I also think I know where she lives.

So here's my debate... do I stop by and talk to her?  In a non threatening manner of course?  Something like "I think you had some concerns about my horses, would you share them with me, and see if I can either improve, or you're misinterpreting something?"  I don't know how she'd take that, or if she'd feel threatened.  She's obviously worried, since she ran from Jae today.  I really think her heart is in the right place, but she's a bit short on real world facts.  I mean, I'm a sucker for animals too!

So, option #1 - stop and talk to the person I think it is.
Option #2 - I know when she's coming by, and what her work schedule is, should i just get pictures of her, and her license plate, and let the police sort it out?  The reality of this is, such calls are public record, and I AM running a business.  It could end up damaging to my lively hood.  I really don't like this option though, it seems so.... sinister.

What do you think?   Any other ideas?

10 comments:

  1. Hang a sign on your fence? Inviting the worried party to set up an appointment with you? Have the AC officer relay a message next time she calls you in?

    Me? I'm a bit.. umm...... yeah well you know. Blunt. Forward. I'd wait for her by the fence (out of sight) and corner her next time she stopped. ;) Then a nice little discussion could take place.....

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  2. I did ask AC to relay a message that I would be willing to discuss concerns with any one. Not too sure if that will make it back to the office though.

    Sadly, there's no longer an "out of sight" by the fence. All the scrub is removed, we have roads on 2 sides, and are visible from the road on the 3rd and 4th (Train tracks with highway across from them). That's why I was thinking about stopping by her house. I had thought about her job, but... she might react badly if she gets embarrassed, and there's more legal concerns with that I'd think.

    My worries about the sign is that it's basically telling every one who does NOT know what's going on, that I have an animal control issue. =) I'm half in city limits, next to a pretty busy road. Maybe just a small sign that you'd have to get out of the car to read?

    Oh, and another worry I have. A few years ago, I had rehabs that came in VERY thin. Of course, people think the worst, so they brought them hay. Thank goodness we're always around, because we found one of the rescues tangled in the wires from the hay bales. They threw in squares, but didn't remove WIRES... big metal loops, ready to slice off legs!

    I think that is my biggest concern.

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  3. Yeah, if you know when she's going to stop, I'd say hide out in a place where she doesn't have time to hop in her car. Invite her to look around and educate her on growth spurts in foals.

    This person obviously does not have enough problems of her own.

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  4. Yikes! Not good. Don't be surprised if you don't end up on that horrible Fugly Blog. Those types of people just seem to want to cause trouble.

    Are you sure the kids aren't bringing grass clippings from their mowed lawns? Lawn clippings can cause tummy problems for horses.

    I hope your new donkey controls the coyote and stray dog population, too. Our llamas do a pretty good job of that here. Since they arrived, we've not seen or heard a coyote anywhere on our property. Right after we moved in here, we had a stray dog break into our barn , destroy a rabbit hutch and kill our pet rabbit. A few days later I saw our llamas chase and attack that same stray dog. That dog was squealing for it's life. It was strangely satisfying! hah!


    ~Lisa

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  5. I would definitely not go with Option #1, setting foot on some wackadoo's property could easily go bad.

    If you feel like you really need to talk to her, it might take longer but I would do as others suggested and watch for an opportunity to discuss on public/your property.

    Your concerns with posting signs are good ones. I wouldn't suggest posting anything other than a rescue facility type sign, IF you want to open that door and make it public. Probably not advisable, I hear horror stories of people chucking animals out windows in drive-by's, further injuring the poor sweethearts.

    It is understandably very bothersome that someone is calling with concerns. However, the bottom line is you know what your doing is right. The cops find nothing wrong. Either she'll get tired of calling, or they'll disregard her calls to your place knowing they have checked it out - and it's fine. I would let it work itself out.

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  6. I figured I would go with the "ignore it and it will go away" approach, but the concerned party keeps showing up to check on me. This makes me very worried that she's also trashing my reputation around (this small) town.

    This is my sole job, so not really something I want to risk.

    I was given a great suggestion though. Get her address, and mail her a note. It's non invasive, it will be completely legal, and non threatening. I'm thinking something along the lines of "Thanks for looking out for the welfare of horses. I know you have been concerned about mine, but if you have any questions, comments or suggestions to improve their care, I would love to have you stop by and share them" and then sign my full name, address, phone number, website, etc.

    As for the kids bringing grass... I make sure to tell them that it can only be *and point to the right grass* hand picked. Horsey loving kids seem to be very receptive to the idea that the wrong grass can make the horses sick, and they don't want to do that! That's why I made it easy, and limited it to grass (as demonstrated) or carrots.

    Thanks so much for every one's suggestions.

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  7. I think the letter is great, it let's her know you have seen her, it is non invasive, but to the point and there will be no misinterpretation of a threat. If she is truly a concerned person not meaning to cause trouble it should set her at ease enough to speak to you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think the letter is great, it let's her know you have seen her, it is non invasive, but to the point and there will be no misinterpretation of a threat. If she is truly a concerned person not meaning to cause trouble it should set her at ease enough to speak to you.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I would definitely not go with Option #1, setting foot on some wackadoo's property could easily go bad.

    If you feel like you really need to talk to her, it might take longer but I would do as others suggested and watch for an opportunity to discuss on public/your property.

    Your concerns with posting signs are good ones. I wouldn't suggest posting anything other than a rescue facility type sign, IF you want to open that door and make it public. Probably not advisable, I hear horror stories of people chucking animals out windows in drive-by's, further injuring the poor sweethearts.

    It is understandably very bothersome that someone is calling with concerns. However, the bottom line is you know what your doing is right. The cops find nothing wrong. Either she'll get tired of calling, or they'll disregard her calls to your place knowing they have checked it out - and it's fine. I would let it work itself out.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yikes! Not good. Don't be surprised if you don't end up on that horrible Fugly Blog. Those types of people just seem to want to cause trouble.

    Are you sure the kids aren't bringing grass clippings from their mowed lawns? Lawn clippings can cause tummy problems for horses.

    I hope your new donkey controls the coyote and stray dog population, too. Our llamas do a pretty good job of that here. Since they arrived, we've not seen or heard a coyote anywhere on our property. Right after we moved in here, we had a stray dog break into our barn , destroy a rabbit hutch and kill our pet rabbit. A few days later I saw our llamas chase and attack that same stray dog. That dog was squealing for it's life. It was strangely satisfying! hah!


    ~Lisa

    ReplyDelete