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.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's been a week, I think even a good week.

Things have been jumping here lately.

I was referred  to a client who has become my riding student.  Fiacha is involved with the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism).  No, his real name is not Fiacha.  It is pronounced like Fee - Ah - Ka, and he's a great guy!  The SCA does Medieval reinactment type activities for fun.  If you don't know about them, check out this video of jousting.

Well, evidently there are many people who would love to learn to control a horse, and whom are involved with SCA.  Fiacha keeps sending me people who might want lessons (which I don't mind) and my mother told me that she's interested in teaching lessons.  Hey, perfect!  I have mom (Nita) giving lessons under my guidance, and learning how to explain what she knows to someone that has never done it before.  Doing and teaching are very separate things, and I'm more of a do-er while mom has always been a great teacher.  I think this is a perfect job for her.

Of course, I have my training horses to work with as well.  Rooster and Huck are doing well, but showing me that they have plenty of things left to learn.  I have been working on Huck with keeping his mouth off the saddle, and my foot, or the girth.  He is very oral, and tends to want to stick everything in his mouth like a little kid.  He gets so distracted with putting things in his mouth, that he's not focusing on what I am asking.  Easy thing to fix.  I am going to be trying a bit with a roller in it next, to see if that will help him keep his mouth off everything.  I want him to be focused, but not stressed or tense.

Huck has finally learned that it's good to walk on the lunge, and that it also carried over to saddle work.  I can climb on him and ask him to stand for as long as I want, but when I want him to step off, he tries to rush through me.  Now, I like a forward horse, but this isn't "forward" per se.... it's rushing.  What bothers me most, is that he's tense.  The type of tense a fearful horse exhibits, except that Huck isn't that bad.

What I want, is to be able to saddle "my horse" and climb on, stand until I am adjusted, then calmly walk off, pick up different gaits, drop back down when asked, and stop calmly.  Huck wants to GO!  He's getting it though, and the more he relaxes, the easier his gaits are, and the more he stretches his back and feels like he's thinking about enjoying the ride.

Now, Rooster, he's doing his best to make a liar out of me.  I said he was fine being caught,  but then he decided to make me work for it the next day.  I didn't realize that I had never walked out alone, with a halter, and tried to catch Rooster first.  Kinda funny, but Huck was trying to put his head into the bridle, and I'm trying to sweet talk Rooster into standing a second longer.  Normally, we bring them up into stalls, with Jae on one lead, and me on the other, so they are both haltered.  If I catch Huck first, then Rooster walks right up to me.  But he doesn't want to get caught first!

I have been doing a lot of evaluating this week.  I put the boys up to potential pit falls, and see how they react.  Today, it was the mounting block, and bad weather for Rooster.  Before, when I've hopped on Rooster quickly, he's ready to go, and wants to hurry off, but is fine.  Today, I piddled around with mounting, and Rooster couldn't take it.  From moving the mounting block (scary!) To jacking with the saddle (it might EAT ME!) he was just a basket of nerves.

Granted, it was also windy, cool, misty, and trying very hard to rain.  That's spook weather.  I of course had my back up helmet on (because I still haven't replaced my favourite) and 2 "assistants" to pick me/the horse up if things went bad.  I think Jae and Mom just want to look at the pretty pony, personally.

But Rooster blew, snorted, and hated the mounting block.  After about 15 minutes, he'd actually let me set it next to him, and stand on it.  I started stepping into the stirrup, wiggling the saddle, and other fidgety things, and he would snort and blow.  If I tried to pet him, he'd flinch with out taking a step.  Every time he tried to relax - not just stand there, but actually relax - I'd praise him, and walk it out.  I thought I had him ready to move on, so I stepped into the stirrup, leaned my belly over the saddle, and he went all tense again.  I flexed him to the offside, where he could see me, and he blew up (in a small way).  He almost reared, and scooted off about 20 feet.  I slid off, and ended up having to let go of the reins.  Poor Rooster trotted to the back side of the arena, snorted and blew, and then walked a large circle around me until he was at my side.

Of course, that's when the skies decided to open up.  I messed with Rooster a bit more, made sure he would walk up to the mounting block, let me stand on it and fidget with his saddle.  Then, soaked and starting to shiver, we headed in to tack down.

Yeah, stopped raining not long after, but it's slick in the arena now.  A good till will fix it up, but there's another bunch of rain about to hit.  I'm wanting to get Huck ridden today too, so I don't have to work on Monday, but doesn't look like that will happen.

Earlier, I had a scare by the Stonewall baby.  My boarder's horse, Jackson is just as cute as can be, as sweet and well trained as you could ask for in a weanling, and a joy to be around.  With the gross weather, he's stalled for the day.  While we were cleaning stalls, the baby layed down, rolled over, and ended up casting himself!  We head a thump, then the bangs.  Jae, mom and I were all right there in a heartbeat, with me heading to the baby's head to keep him calm.  As soon as he saw a person, he relaxed.  Mom grabbed a lead rope, and we turned him.  He hopped up, and only had a slight scuff on his leg, but was scared!  His "momma", mom's retired mare who is keeping him company is stalled beside him, and kept nickering to him, which made him feel better.

And it looks like my mother might be working for me full time.  Her job is very strange, and has been messing with her a bit (like canceling her hours, not calling her, etc).  If this keeps up, she will be assisting me with barn chores, which will give me a lot more time.  Who knows, I might even be able to take on an extra training horse each month, and she will be able to give quite a few more lessons.

AND!  Looks like Jae might be getting me arena lights.  Not something that will happen fast, but he has a plan to get something up.  That's one more thing I can expose the horses to, and it will allow for after work riding lessons.  Lets not even talk about how many of MY horses I could ride between sundown and 9pm!

All I want now, is to be able to get warm again.  I think I already miss summer!


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