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, October 27, 2010

I remembered a picture at the last momment

That is Huck.  He was my last ride for today, and as I was tacking down, I remembered I have a camera in my phone.  Duh!  On the upside, this means I can get more pictures more often now, since my phone is always in my back pocket - unless I hit the ground and send it flying!

So, for all the joy and wonder of yesterday, today was not so great.  It started out with grabbing Huck and Rooster to put them in the barn.

Huck: "Hey, do you have food?  Catch me PLEASE!"

Rooster:  "Screw this, I'm outta here!"  *tail in air, prancing away* (exit stage left)

Yeah.  So, Rooster and I had a discussion about how nice it is to be caught.  I asked him to come to me, he said no.  If he focused on me, I took away all pressure, but if he ran around with his tail up, I kept him moving.  After he was a very hot and sweaty boy, he decided that I wasn't so bad after all, and walked right up to me.  I then of course praised him, loved on him, and had to walk him out.

But, I suppose there's a bit of a good side to it.  After that, he decided that me walking all the way around him was perfectly fine, and he was too tired to give me fits.  Yesterday, he was tense, and ready to go with the least encouragement.  And I mean GO!  Today, he was calm, but listening.  I can't tell if his good behavior today was because he was a tuckered boy, or if he's actually learning.  So, it looks like he's learned that running from me is not worth it, but coming to me means pets and calm, and that I can walk around him, touch him all over, and he doesn't take off until I give an actual command.  No command means to relax and stand still.  I'm hoping that means tomorrow I will actually get saddle time on him!

As for Huck, well, he was a brat today!  Started out with tacking him up, and he decided pawing was a good idea.  Uh, no.  He pawed, I made the seagull noise (ahhhhhhhk!) and he'd stop.  He was a doll for picking up his back feet, but tried to pull his front out from my hands today.  Normally, he tries to be super lazy on the hinds, and is good on the fronts.

So then we went to the arena, and I went to climb on and ride.  With out lunging.  This is my goal for him.  Yeah, it's not part of the routine, so he didn't like it at all.  First he wouldn't stand to be mounted.  This means I got my step aerobics in.  Up, down, stand, repeat.  Finally he was good, so I mounted up, and he walked off on me.  I really hate that.  Nothing worse then a horse that walks off as soon as your rump hits the saddle.  So we did some yo yo work.

Yo yo work is where I walk the horse, then stop, then stand.  The idea is for the command to get an immediate response in a calm and soft manner.  Huck would stop fine, but he drug into a walk, and standing, well, only after he'd turned a quarter circle!  Finally he got the idea.

Then my neighbor decdes to tape up a box.  No biggie right?  Uh.... you know the packing tape on a roll, and the noise it makes?  Evidently that's a possible horse eating noise!  While Huck was good about it, he was completely distracted from any command I wanted to give, and every halt ended in him turning towards the noise.

Finally, we got over that (ok, mostly because the neighbor stopped, but Huck did start to ignore it a couple of minutes before that).  Then huck decides he won't turn left.  Nope, not happening.  He'll turn right like a doll, but left, nope.  He would simply swing his hind quarters around, but he would not walk and do a left turn at the same time.

Around and around we went.  I got lovely side passes from him.  I got some amazing backs... almost the entire length of the arena.  Sadly, they were all evasions.  I tried seat aids, I tried leg aids, I tried direct reining, I tried indirect reining, I even tried neck reining.  Nothing.  Every command resulted in the same response.

Even worse, he'd turn left just fine when I wanted him to go straight.

I can't say it was the best ride, but we did end on a good note.  I asked Huck to walk forward and straight.  Just walk on the command.  After he backed up, kicked at the saddle, and tried to turn in circles, he finally gave in.  I got a nice, soft and easy walk, and an even better halt.  After an hour of trying to be smarter then the horse (and not completely positive that I was) it seemed like a great response!

But, these bad rides always happen.  No horse can be good 100% of the time, nor can every rider.  I'm thinking that today was just not my day.  I'm hoping that Huck learned that he can't get out of work by being a problem, and that fighting my commands makes it more work, and not less.  We'll see how tomorrow goes.

There is an upside though.  The new paddock is in progress.  I have vertical poles in, and I have half of a top rail.  This is the paddock that will be attached to the barn, with a run in stall.  I'm very excited about this, because I need more small paddocks out here.  After this, poor Jae (he's over worked and under paid) gets to finish the house paddock, and THEN start cross fencing the main paddock.  I feel like the farm is finally coming together!


  1. Oh how well I know those kinds of days. Kinda had a tad bit of one myself today on you-know-who.

  2. Any day you stay in the saddle is a great day!

  3. There's always some kind of work to do when you have a barn and animals.
    It's nice to see some progress, though.

    Sounds like a frustrating ride, but with a whole bunch of positive training thrown in. Hopefully it will sink in and your next ride with Huck with go smoother. And hopefully both he and Rooster will have woke up on the greener side of the pasture. hehe!


  4. Any day you stay in the saddle is a great day!