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.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th!

Here's hoping a happy and safe 4th of July to every one out there!  Remember to keep your puppies and ponies safe, and to definitely wear your helmet if riding today.

Fireworks started last night for me.  The neighbors across the road were setting off the big (and very lovely I might add) ones.  My western view was filled with bombs bursting in air.  On a great note, the horses could care less.

We managed to haul the round bales into the paddocks (even in the sloppy muddy footing) and pull the boys out of the barn.  Things are settling back to normal, although Boo misses Rose badly (he's running around screaming for her) but he's decided that Keeley is a nice replacement.  Scorch doesn't know what to do being the "big boy" in his paddock, and is trying to show dominance to the little boys (he's 3, and his pasture mates are 2, 2, and 1 respectively).  He's not mean, but he's running a bit more then I'd like.

Of course, a lot of that has to do with his new shoes!  The day before the farrier arrived, Scorch cracked his toe.  He lives in a sandy area, and his feet have been drying out badly.  This, along with him growing like a weed, resulted in a stress crack up the toe of his hoof.  The other front has a stress line.  Boo.  I called Jon, the farrier, and told him about it, and he said we should look at front shoes.

So, on the 2nd, Scorch became a big boy, and got his first set of shoes.  He was wonderful for it, although he did get a bit bored in the cross ties.  He was also very interested to see what Jon was doing to his feet!  Jon would pick up a hoof, check the fit of the shoe, and have to work around Scorch's big nosey head peering over his shoulder.  When Jon put the hot metal on his hoof, and the smoke pooled off Scorch looked a bit worried, but never flinched.  Nails didn't phase him at all.  All in all I'm very happy with how good he was, and how easily he accepted it.

And best of all... the shoes have added just a bit more oomph to his gaits.  Now, Scorch moves like a dream, but with the new fronts, he's just a bit lighter on his feet, and collects just a bit more naturally.  I turned him out right after he was shod, and Jon watched Scorch run and play.  Of course, like everyone, Jon was impressed with Scorch's dashing good looks.  He made the comment "wow, you just don't see draft crosses with such amazing natural movement like that".  Yeah, that made my day.

Mom's riding horse, a 20 year old mare named Keeley, has been in front shoes for about 10 years now.  She foundered at some time in her past, and has some nasty looking joints.  The vet believes that she was used hard, and broken down from it, by the changes in all the joints of her front legs.  He guess, simply from the X rays, that she did some type of high speed turning event, like barrels or cutting (she did barrels) and that she most likely tore a tendon or ligament, slowed down, and was ridden harder to make up for it, resulting in more problems.  Sounds about right for how she acts.

Well, Keeley is foundered, and when mom got her, she had THE worst feet I've ever seen.  10 years of corrective shoeing, and on Friday the farrier announced that we could try her barefoot for a month and see how it goes.  YAY!  Today, she's comfortably grazing outside, and looks happy.

Rover.... ah, here's the BIG deal.  Good Ol' Rover was diagnosed with Ringbone on all 4 legs.  Ick.  He's not truly "lame" per se, but definitely "off" and not rhythmical.  He tends to look like his back is sore when moving, and all of his joints are stiff.  Because Rover is a sale horse, both my vet and farrier have worked to keep the costs reasonable for his diagnosis and care.  With a rehab horse there's not a lot of room for profit, and often they result in a loss if something goes bad (oh, like a ringbone diagnosis).  So, Jon offered to give him a trim to help him stay more comfortable, or to work up to as expensive as I wanted.

We all realize that this horse, who should be worth over $3,000 because of his training, won't be able to bring as much as the care I have into him.  Just on vet bills alone, I have $400, then there's the price of his shoeing, vaccinations, special feeds, etc.  I'm not going to make a dime on him, but that's not really why I'm doing this.  I love Rover!  So, we went with the option of "lets try a shoe to keep him comfortable standing, and see if there's any benefit at all to that, and go from there".

The result..... a mircle!

Rover is moving sound.  It makes no sense, as he only has front shoes, and they aren't the "ideal" ringbone type shoe.  What they do though, is spread out the weight distribution, and allow him to absorb the impact of moving.  2 minutes after his shoes were on, I lunged him lightly just to see how he was moving.... and he's moving sound to the left, and almost sound to the right.

Is it a cure... no.  It just means our idea is making him comfortable, and he will be able to be a light riding horse.  His next set will be more complicated, with rocker shoes, and such (I leave that up to the farrier!).  In a few weeks I should see some benefit from his supplements, and he will go back under saddle lightly.  Yes, Rover will be teaching Jae to ride.

Here's how I see it.  Since Rover is now "damaged goods" he is unlikely to find a home.  If he does, it will take a while.  I'm not about to just dump this horse on the first willing person!  Nope, whomever wants him will have to prove that they are up to the task of caring for him and his medical condition.  Not a hard thing really... a vet reference, and a farrier reference, or a horse knowledgeable friend reference.  If he doesn't find his own home, then he'll stay here for the rest of his days, and pack around friends and neighbors every blue moon.  With the extreme change the shoes made, I expect him to be the "horse of choice" for people who come over to ride.

And now today..... I plan to do a whole lot of nothing.  Eat some BBQ, laze around, and enjoy my holiday.  I hope every one else will do the same.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds about like my day. I am supremely unmotivated.

    He'll definitely be my ride of choice :-)