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, November 4, 2010

So I took my camera out today, but STILL didn't get any pictures

I know, I'm horrible!  Sad thing is, it's because I'm having more fun playing... er I mean training the horses then taking pictures of them.

Well, today was a bit rough for me.  I ran out of Potassium Bromide for my dog yesterday, and the pharmacy didn't get the script filled before they closed.  Well, normally I can wing it a bit and just give her a bit extra Phenobarbital, but not last night.  My poor Rowdy has severe seizures, and my blunder resulted in her having seizures all night long it seemed.  I think there were only 3, but each one is horrible, and lasts almost 5 minutes.

This poor dog was one of my rescue fosters.  When she arrived, I carried her up the stairs under one arm... and now she weighs 94 pounds.  A bit on the lean side back then.  Add to her problems was a history of abuse.  Someone did mean things to this dog, and if you yelled in a room she was in, she threw herself on her back and did the whole submissive urination thing.  You didn't even have to yell bad things, or yell at her.  And we learned to never stand up too fast in her presence.  The poor thing would lose it, and try to run into any "safe" spot she could find, even if she didn't fit or would get hurt to get there.

Well, as she gained weight, she also started having seizures.  She was deemed "un-adoptable" because of so many things.  In other words, I kept her, or she went night night.  Yeah, Jae didn't give me time to decide, he claimed her as his own.

So, my point is that I barely got any sleep last night.  (Yes, she got her drugs, and is doing much better.)  I woke up this morning, and started doing some paper work while it's still so cold out, then as I prepare to head outside, I realize that I completely forgot that I had to return Leah's trailer today.  Gah!

I sweet talked my father into doing it, because I had 5 hours of work, and only 6 hours of daylight left.  Thank you Daddy.

And then, there were some great rides today.  Huck was just amazing.  Now, he's not perfect, but he's just moving right along.  I took him to a new place to work today, the round pen (it's a 110' round pen, this thing is HUGE!).  He was so nice and relaxed that I walked him around it, let him look, then climbed right on.  He was still nice and relaxed, so I started working on harder things.  A few side passes, a bit of trot work, and once he was nice and warmed up, we worked on the transition from walk to trot.  This is something I haven't put a lot of work into, because I wanted relaxed basics before I work on the higher stuff.  Now that relaxed is normal, it was time.  Huck of course is a bit lazy, and would blunder into the trot eventually.  With a few simple repetitions he figured out what I want, and started giving it to me nice and cleanly.  By the end of the lesson I had walk-trot nice, halt-trot pretty good, trot-walk pretty good, and we did some yo-yo work (walk, trot, walk, halt, back, walk, trot....repeat).  Didn't take him long to realize that the cleaner he did what I asked for, the sooner I gave him a break.  Huck likes his breaks!  All in all, I have NO complaints about how he did today.  His transitions are 100% better.

Rooster also made some big improvements!  Granted, it might not seem like such a big thing, but it really is.  He walked up to the mounting block, let me step on as sloppy as I wanted to, and stand in the stirrup, lean over, pat his off side, and hop off as freaky as I wanted to, and he never got tense and fearful.  The worst he did was lift his head and look at me.  This is exactly what I have been trying to teach him.  Not that he needs to be a statue to be good, but that he can think about it, and realize that it's just stupid human stuff.  I even mounted from the offside today!  Granted, that was a bit scary, but not like Rooster has been.  Before, Rooster was ready to RUNAWAY at the first sign of anything he wasn't sure of.  Now, he's checking to see if there's a "good boy" and a pet or even a cookie in his future.

I was sorely tempted to start making laps at the walk with him, and just keep on moving, but a glance at my watch told me that we had spent another hour on step aerobics for me, and zen meditation for Rooster.  Today, Rooster was as calm as Huck was when he came to see me.  I think that's HUGE.  And I'm so proud of that red head!

And then there's Lady.  Pretty pretty lady!  This is my National Show Horse that is in for some dressage basics.  She is spoiled, but in a good way.  You know the type:  she likes to be loved on, knows she's lovely, but does what is asked of her to the best of her ability.  She is a bit hot blooded, and the rain delay was probably very good for her.  From the other horses to all the new sounds, Lady has been a bit nervous for the last couple of days.

Today, I started her on the basics of learning contact.  Lunging with side reins.  This gives me a chance to see what she knows, what she doesn't, and what her natural tendencies are.  We of course started with the side reins attached to the D rings of the saddle, and not her bridle (so she will feel them move, and won't get her mouth yanked on if she spooks).  Not a problem for her!  She handled all that like a pro.  What she did have trouble with, was coming back down to a walk, and moving above the trot into the canter.  She'll gallop full out on the lunge (she's a mature mare, so all joints are closed) but she won't do a simple canter.

So, I got her to understand my way of doing things - because all humans do things a bit differently, it's unfair to punish a horse for getting confused at that.  I got a pretty consistent walk and trot from her on verbal/body commands, and then attached the side reins at their loosest setting.  She grabbed the contact, and went right on the bit.  Well, this might just be easy!  Because of the way she moves into the canter, I will not yet ask her to do that with side reins on.

After she proved to me that she can get contact, and won't fight it, or freak out, I took off the side reins again, and started working on a canter.  Around and around she went.  She would gallop full out, or trot.  A few times she flew into this lovely extended trot, but I would hear a click which is likely her interfering with herself.  That's when the horse kicks its front hoof, leg, or sole with it's hind.  Because Lady is shod, it's very obvious when it happens.  I just kept her out of that extended trot if I could.  Tomorrow I will put bell boots on her.

She never did give me a true canter, but she did slow down the gallop a bit.  I got about 2 paces of what I wanted moving into the canter, and another 2 moving back down into the trot, but she couldn't maintain it.  Most of that is back muscling.  This means that Lady is going to get a lot of walk/trot work for the next week or so, until she can hold up her shoulders on the lunge line.

So all in all, I think it was a wonderful day.  I'm ready to get Lady learning, I'm thrilled with Huck, and I'm like a proud momma with Rooster.

Yesterday, Cowboy Magic featured the Sugarbush Draft Horse on their facebook page.  This resulted in about 120 hits to both the SDHR site, and the Iron Ridge site.  I'm so happy that people are learning what these horses are!  We have many new "friends" now, and if this keeps up, I think there's a real future out there for these horses.

And.... AND!  For your viewing pleasure.....Here is a teaser video of the Sugarbush Stallion "O" at his first show last weekend.


  1. Having a dog with seizures can assuredly be difficult. Have you even asked your vet for take home emergency drugs? I know done vets will send home valium in a syringe for rectal use. Good luck. I just recently found your blog and very much wish I lived closer so you could train my horse.

  2. Thanks for thinking about her. And yeah, we have Diazepam (Valium) in the fridge just in case. I had it in there when all this happened, but it was sadly out of date. Her Potassium Bromide had worked so well, I hadn't gotten a "new" dose.

    And thank you for the kind words about my training. Always appreciated.