I have just spent the last couple of days getting my brain sucked dry, I think. It was actually kinda fun!
Looking back, it's easy to see how my whole life has lead me to be in this field - Horses. But living that life it didn't seem so obvious. While attending college, I don't think horses were something I ever really mentioned. I lived in the city, I was a poor broke college student, and I thought that horses would have to wait until I had a career and could "afford them". I didn't realize they would become my career.
Now, in college I lived off campus (barely) with a bunch of guys that were like brothers to me. They were protective, threw great parties, and serious enough about education that the environment was conducive to getting up in the morning and making my 8am classes... usually. One of the people who made his way into my circle of friends was a guy named Jon. I always thought of Jon as the classy cerebral type. Now, many years later, he's proven that to be true.
Well, with facebook being what it is, we bumped into each other again. Jon is now a freelance writer on the side, and understands the idea of being self employed. We began talking and he got an eyeful when he asked what I did for a living now. Of course a link here and there to the Sugarbush Draft Horse Registry page, and my own Iron Ridge Sport Horses's page, and he was hooked. After about a month, he asked me if I'd be willing to do an interview, so he could write an article (or a few) on what we're doing.
Since the Sugarbush Drafts need so much exposure, I couldn't see a downside. I have been looking into what that type of advertising costs... wow! It ain't cheap! To find someone that actually wants to go through the trouble of writing anything about what you do... yeah, I jumped on it.
I've never really thought of myself as the exciting lifestyle type. You know, you just get used to what is "normal" and think nothing of it. For Jon, the idea of reviving a dieing breed, one with a rich American heritage, and my path to get here, it seemed like the perfect story. We made plans for Jon to come visit for a couple of days. Yep, he's good at interviewing! I don't think he really asked me a question per se, but he'd get me telling stories, and just recorded them all, and made notes as he needed to. Over 2 days of running my mouth... I'm sure he's got tons of material!
We talked about things from my time working with an animal rescue, rehabilitating aggressive dogs. That lead to my learning to train problem horses, which lead to how I picked my first broodmares (rescuing mares with good bloodlines, good conformation, and bad attitudes that had few options left to them). Jon was given the grand tour of the property: stallion to stallion, mares and foals, and a few more mares. The horses adored him!
Of course, that was interesting to me, since many of my horses do NOT like strangers. Nazar is the worst. She's a Belgian cross mare that was abused in her past, and very picky about who can get close to her. To this day my family can pet her, but only I can put a halter on her in the pasture. Jae says only I can feed her cookies in the pasture, but I think Leah has managed that as well. Well, Nazar was in love with Jon. She followed him around, let him pet her all over, including her head! Pretty good judge of character I'd say.
I also found it really interesting the things that picked his interest. Like, Jae doing morning chores. He loaded hay into the tractor, drove into the pasture, and the horses of course followed the tractor while Jae threw out hay. There's the usually scuffle about who gets the best hay pile, the mares circle around, and all in all, it ends up looking like a well choreographed dance. The nicker of the foals begging for food, or the whinny as soon as the door to the house opens, and they start begging for something. To me, those are just "normal" now, but looking through someone else's eyes, you get to appreciate how great it really is that this can actually BE normal.
Wednesday morning, we had planned to throw Jon on a horse, and let him see what riding a "real" horse (i.e. not a dude string horse) was all about. Got ready to head out, and the thunder started. Shortly after that, the rain came down. Bummer! Sadly Jon didn't have enough time to stay and wait it out, so I've invited him back (and to bring his wife along) when ever he wants. I hope he takes me up on it.
All in all, I have no idea what I told him, how much he's recorded, and what will be in the article he writes or where he will try to have it published. There's no guarantee that any one will even publish it. But, Jon is a professional, he knows the ins and outs of all that, and I really don't have to worry about it. I did promise to check his horsey terminology so he doesn't make any glaring mistakes.
For me, it was a strange experience to sit there and talk about years of horse experiences, and NOT have the person's eyes glaze over. I mean, the only people who like to hear that much horsey stuff... well, it's other horsey people!
The downside? Yeah... it's a mud pit out here now. I had big plans to bathe babies and take more pictures this week, and now I'm "stuck" taking a few days off. Although, I think I have found a fail proof way to make it rain. Plan something that you can't do in the rain, and don't budget enough time to work around it. We really needed this rain too.
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.