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, July 1, 2010

Picture day!

So, the other day my good buddy Leah says "I'm coming over on Thursday, and I'm all yours for the day".

Well what am I supposed to do with extra hands!  A million possibilities jumped into my head, the main one being those blank spots on my web page.  I decided it was time for a picture day.  At first, I thought we'd do Katy and Velvet.  Both need their pictures up.  Then it dawned on me, O is going to the trainer.  From there, he will likely have himself a new owner.  He's leaving on SATURDAY... I need more pictures of him.

Leah arrived ready to go.  In fact, she arrived before I was ready to go.  At 7:57am my phone rings.  "I'm here!"

My alarm was set to go off in 3 minutes.  I made Jae brew coffee, I tried to figure out which was was up, and find my shoes. 

Rowdy is my shoe thief.  She's cute, she's sweet, and she's very needy.  For some reason, she feels that hoarding shoes is the best way to be loved, or something.  No one really knows what goes on in her mind, but every night, she makes the rounds picking up a single shoe of a pair and stashing them in a "safe place".  In other words, every morning I can't find my shoes.

So, by the time I get out to the barn, almost an hour has passed.  Good barn buddy that she is, Leah was watering, and throwing out hay.  We had to wait a bit for the horses to finish breakfast, and then we got to work.  Horse number 1... Sweetie.

Poor Sweetie.  She's a growing draft filly.  Now, if you're not used to draft horses, when they grow, they grow fast.  This results in... well.... ugly.  I'm not saying Sweetie is ulgy.  I am saying that she's in a less then lovely phase of her life.  All head, legs, and funky angles.  Lately though, I have begun to see glimpses of the lovely mare she will become.  Sweetie is only 2 years old, so she has a whole lot of time to grow up still.

Of course, we started with a bath.  A bit of cleaning, a bit of clipping, a lot of brushing, and we had a very large wet baby.  A bit more grooming, some hair product (I am really liking a new product called "Pink" available in the ethnic hair section of Walmart) and we began to see what looks like a horse!

When Everett named her, he picked the PERFECT name.  Sugarbush O Sweet Surprise.  She is the sweetest horse I have worked with in my life.  Not a mean or bad bone in her body.  She is big, and she doesn't know it.... she thinks she's a lap pony!  I absolutely love this horse, and I love her so much I'm thinking about buying her myself and adding her to the broodmare herd.

I think she'd make a lovely carriage horse, and she's definitely the right type to be a good trail horse.  She has lovely gaits, so could do well at dressage, but, she just doesn't have the drive to be a high competition horse.  She's about as perfect of an example of the mellow draft horse as one can get.

Poor Leah had to keep backing her up to get her square for a conformation shot.  Leah would step away, and Sweetie would try to walk back into Leah's space.  Look at her face, Sweetie doesn't know why she isn't being given the love she thinks she deserves! 

But, all in all we got a few good pictures.  They will be uploaded onto my webpage later, and Sweetie's page will be updated.  She looks so grown up in her pictures!  It's hard to believe that she's just a little 2 year old, and no where near done growing.  I admit though, I forgot to put a stick on her.  I would guess she's standing around 15.2 hands right now.

After her, we decided to work on O.  He has been breeding for the last week, and we are hoping for Sugarbush Foal Number Thirteen sometime in early June.  Well, our fingers are crossed.  Heather (the other Heather) should be letting me know if she's in foal.  (Please Heather!). This is the same cross that produced Sweetie, so good, honest, big and loveable foals are the result.  Of course, all of our fingers are crossed for a black blanket colt (another stallion in the breed would be nice!).

My point is, he was a filthy dirty mess.  He had a huge knot in his tail that Leah slowly worked out, and managed to save all the hair.  We started cleaning him up, and kept finding scrapes and abrasions that he sustained while breeding.  A scuff on his pastern here, missing hair on his forelegs there.  I would be very embarassed to send him to the trainer in such a state, so I'm really glad I had the idea (at midnight last night) to pretty him up instead of the other girls.

At first, O wasn't so sure of the spray.  He danced a bit, he tried to walk away.  Finally he realized that the water was nice, being clean is good, and standing is so much easier.  A few good boys thrown out, and he became a pretty happy camper.  For some reason, he hated the idea of the shampoo being poured on him, so Leah worked it in one handful at a time (and that's a lot of handfuls!).  After a marathon of grooming, he was shiney and pretty!

Then came picture time.  Oh my.  O decided that standing wasn't as much fun as grazing while women fawned over him.  He tried to walk off.  He tried to graze.  He wouldn't set up right.  Leah tried to pose him first.  Well, there's not really that much a person can do to force a horse his size around.  He was so mellow and mild mannered about it, but he also just was not getting into the right spot.

Leah decided to trade jobs with me (Or I offered, I can't recall).  I grabbed the lead rope, and set him up perfectly.............

At least I wish that's how it went!

But he never was bad.  He didn't understand the point of standing perfectly sideways against a wall, facing away from all the pretty mares, and then not moving for a couple of seconds.  In his mind that was a very strange request (I mean, can you really blame him?).

I have zillions of pictures, which I think will be great for an upcoming blog on "how to photo your horse".  I actually had a good time, and am so happy that I got some good pictures.  Yes, we got quite a few nice ones, and O is a stunning man in many of them.  Leah has a great eye for capturing the horse as I know it, including it's expressions (see O's head shot above).

So this is my last time to really play with them before Rose and O head out to the trainer.  I am very excited, and at the same time, I'm going to miss them a lot.  Such amazing horses.  I didn't think I'd get as attached to them as I have, since I always knew they were for sale.  These big drafts have a special way of getting in someone's heart. 


  1. What a fun day!!

    When I bathe my little stallion I just hear him saying, "I am a wild stallion and wild stallions don't GET BATHS!!" LOL. O is just beautiful!

    I totally agree that drafts seems to just ooze into your heart. Selling Abby took my two years to get serious about because she is just such a smoocher.

  2. Dang, you are the fastest blogger ever!

    I am whupped. Bathing O is like washing a semi. I did grocery shopping after that (yes, I have become a "People of WalMart" — what a sight!), and somewhere in the middle it dawned on me how TIRED I am. And though the day was almost completely overcast, my face is sunburned.

    I was glad to spend some time with the big galoot before he leaves. How far he has come from the INSANE monster he was when he arrived. O is the poster child for why you want to establish impeccable manners and respect when they're young rather than trying to do it when they weight 1800 lbs.

    So, what are we doing tomorrow?

  3. Tomorrow is FARRIER DAY! =) Rover gets shoes. Keeley gets shoes, and Scorch might get fronts. And like 14 trims.

    Claudio brought me some hay today (6 rounds) and told me he's dropping off 250 squares for me, and that I should pay him when I can (I LOVE him, best hay guy EVER).

    And I'm not the fastest blogger ever... I just have to get it posted while I'm sitting on my hiney... which was right after you left.


  4. BTW, love that last pic of O and Rose.

    And I'm still wiped out.

  5. I love doing a photo day but it's sure a lot of work. I take hundreds of pics pretty much every day and it's always fun to see what you captured. I love the last shot.

  6. Doc Wynn will be out July 17th to give her a check and you will be the first one I call! And believe me you'll have plenty of chances to see and play with Rose and O!

  7. Doc Wynn will be out July 17th to give her a check and you will be the first one I call! And believe me you'll have plenty of chances to see and play with Rose and O!