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.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Horse Training made easy

Sadly, I don't have any tips or tricks to training horses the easy way.  The title refers to my horses making it easy on me! 

This is Velvet.  She's a lovely ApHC mare I have for sale.  I really like Velvet, but sadly, she has babies her size, which is about 14.3.  Sport Horse buyers want horses a bit closer to 16 hands, so.... she's been removed from the breeding program.

Now, when I bought Velvet, it was to be a brood mare.  Poor girl had been starved, but had excellent babies in the past, and seemed like a great match.  Her previous owners had trained her to ride supposedly, but, as I loaded Velvet into the trailer to take her home, I was told, "Oh, and she's a bucker".

Heavily pregnant, extremely thin, I had no reason to test her bucking habits.  After she promptly delivered a lovely tobiano colt (for those who read the genetics, yeah, that means someone bred a Paint/Pinto to this Appaloosa mare) I bred her to my stallion.  The resulting filly.... stunning!  And short. 

So, at this point, I know Velvet needs to find her a home while she's in the prime of her life.  She's 12.  To give her the best chance possible, that means she needs to be a good saddle horse.  Needless to say, it's time to train her.  And training we've been doing.

Member that bucking thing?  Yeah, haven't seen it yet.  Now, she did lay down on Kris once, but in Velvet's defense that was sheer ignorance.  Velvet's not Kris's!  Velvet didn't know that she wasn't supposed to.  She figured it out pretty quick though, and I haven't had her try that again either.

When Velvet gets scared or confused, she stops.  Stops and stands.  I don't know about any one else, but I LIKE that response to fear!  No bolting, no bucking, and she just needs some love and pampering, and she's good to go again.  So big mean scarry bucker turned into "please tell me I'm good and I'll do anything you ask".  How easy is that?

Then there's Melody.  She's a Spot baby, and actually the first foal born into my breeding program (by a few days).  Melody is 4 now, and has just started her saddle training (yeah, I was slacking).

When I first put my weight on this girl, she acted like "what took you so long".  Today, she kept up the great behavior.  I haven't had a bad ride on this girl yet!  I'm shocked, and so thrilled!  She's eager to please, willing to go, and just LOVES working.  She won't tell me when she's getting tired, she just keeps on truckin.  She's sensible, she isn't spooky, and she has some lovely gaits.  her walk.... mmm.... it's a perfect 10. 

I mean check her out in the picture, see how she looks nice and level?  She's not.  She's rump high right now, about to grow a wee bit more, but she just lifts her shoulder so naturally.  I just dropped this girl's price, and I'm really having to tell myself right now that I can't keep them all.  WOW, I love the way she's training up.  Like she's been doing it for ever.

And my last ride of the day was Amber.  Yeah, such a great name for an Amber Champagne horse, but somehow it fits her perfectly.  Amber is one of my few quarter horses.  For those into such things, her registered name is Crystal Lynx, and pretty heavy on the foundation breeding, even though she doesn't look it.  You'd swear there was some TB up close in this girl.

Well, today was Amber's second ride.  Ever.  We started out with a handler - my mom - on the end of that big red lead rope there.   After a few minutes I felt confident, and decided to take a spin with out the "training wheels" and Amber stepped up to the task.  Now, she did have to think long and hard about that command to take the first step.  With a handler, she had been moving off the ground person's movement, and not really thinking about the leg aid to walk. 

So, I tapped tapped tapped, then tapped harder.  Nothing!  Ok, no biggie.  She wasn't spooking, she wasn't upset, she was just confused.  I got a few steps from snapping my fingers, but the clicking and kissing, and using verbal comands resulted in ...... nothing.  Finally I started tapping her rump, and just kept increasing pressure while saying "walk".  Around the level of a spank, she took a step.

Yep, smiles and sunshine for her, and she just loved it!  After that, she started learning so fast it almost made my head spin.  Within 10 minutes she had good solid walk/halt transitions, halt/back, and halt/walk transitions!  That's like a few days worth of learning for most horses!  And good clean transitions!

It doesn't get much easier then that.  Well, except for all the tap tap tapping I had to do to keep encouraging the greenies.  But if that's the most I had to worry about, while riding 3 horses, back to back, that have less then 10 rides on each?  Yeah.... it was a GREAT day.


  1. Nice horses and nice pictures - I think it should be this easy if you do it the way you do!

  2. I remebmber those kinds of days, so nice when it all comes together.I don't do my own starting any more, lost a step or two to Lupus and arthritis, but I still remember the feeling. Also love the horse who's mantra seems to be "if I don't do anything ,I won't do anything wrong" I would far rather they stop and ask again than to bolt off in a panic

  3. Website down? Went to check out the changes and nada.

  4. Shouldn't be Leah. Appears like it's up to me. Would you check again and make sure I didn't bugger the whole thing?

  5. After starting so many young ones in a row this year (Dream, and Cayenne, who were really re-starts, Melody, Velvet another re-start, and now Amber) I've really gotten in the hang of those first few wobbly rides.

    My only problem now, is that sometimes I feel like I forget the higher stuff, like a nice balanced trot! But they all are progressing at different speeds, so soon I'll be doing a bit of everything. Cayenne is already doing a good WTC and just working on transitions.

  6. Website down? Went to check out the changes and nada.