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 26, 2010

Live in the Moment

After the loss of Station, I took a couple of days off.  My mind was not where it needed to be to work with the horses.

Yet, in this line of work, there's no such thing as a "true" day off.  The need food at least twice a day, and usually more (4 times per day right now - grain twice, and hay twice).  They need water, and we have to check buckets every 2 to 3 hours.  And, being spoiled horses, they need their love.

This morning, I had some running around to do.  I got up, threw back a coffee, and headed out.  Jae unhooked the trailer (yes, we had put that off) and I filled water. My colts and geldings were in the arena last night.  Scorch, Rico, Zire, Diesel, and Rover were all playing.  Scorch though, was NOT playing nicely.  He kept chasing his little brother (Rico) and trying to be the alpha male.  Rover kept getting himself in the middle, and Scorch was just a bit too rough.

I grabbed a halter, and pulled Scorch back up into the barn, leaving the other boys out to play.  He was, of course, perfect, and put his head right in, and walked into his stall with out a complaint.  Grain was in the feeder waiting for him, but when I released him, he only glanced at it.  Then he shoves his big ol' head into my chest!  It was gentle, and I hugged him back.  I kissed on him, and he pressed into me for a moment.  Then he pulled back a bit and looked at me.  Right into me with those appaloosa eyes that look so human.

It was as if he said "there, better?  Ok, now what's next?"

Horses live in the moment.  Watching Quagga turn his attention to a new set of completely inappropriate girls (the 2 year old fillies across the alley from him) and the other boys resume their play as soon as the bully left, I realized that this is what makes them so magnificent to us.  They are so perceptive, but always in the moment.  There are no grudges.  Pain and sorrow last for mere moments with them.  And yet, some how they tap into the deeper side of our human needs.  Grace and beauty, love, power.

If for a moment, I think I should give all this up to spare myself the loss, the aches and pains of the back breaking work, I realize that I would never be whole with out them.  They are nothing but honest, and true barometers of our every emotion.  They live only in the moment.

Working so closely with them, I must give each one my full attention.  Anything else would often lead to an accident or injury to one of us.  I can not dwell on what happened before, or what will happen next, I can only focus on what needs to happen now.  With a hand on a horse, I too must live in the moment.

When I try to step back, give my self space from the herd I not only own, but also am a member of, I realize that they teach me as much if not more then I teach them.  Every time I am with them, a small part of me succeeds in that goal that I could only dream of as a child.  I see things through a horse's eyes.

For weeks, Ash and Station would graze together.  Both older mares, they would find a quiet corner of the pasture, and enjoy the last of the seed heads and sun scorched clover.  Today, Ash is grazing with Keeley and Ishka, as if it was nothing unusual.  For years, Quagga had nuzzled noses with Station while stalled next to her.  Today, he's playing bitey face with Scorch, as if he always has.   I feel a bit lost not having to check on Station, hose her down, and clean her buckets, but I am taking a page from the herd.  I will enjoy what is before me, not what I have lost.  I will treasure the horses I have in front of me more then the horses I wish I still had with me.  I will enjoy my time with my horsey friends, and laugh at the mistakes we make together.  I will wipe off the sweat and dirt, brush myself off, and get back on the horse.

I have decided to live in the moment.


  1. Dealing with loss is hard for those left behind. How wonderful that Ash and Quagga have found comfort.
    What an incredible moment with Scorch. That must have been wonderful for you.

  2. Life goes on, it's as simple as that. After I put my old BooBoo kitty down, the first thing I did was to head up there to live in the now.

  3. It is so hard to live in the now. It looks me a long time to get over the loss of my old mare. I have lost many years riding because I was morning her. I think I finally am starting to learn how to love what is here and not morn what is lost.

  4. Now is all there is - if we just pay attention to it - it's a hard thing for people to do - horses are better than we are.

  5. I too lost a favorite horse recently. It totally sucks but life does go on.