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, February 17, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

It happened, it finally happened.  The stars have aligned just right, and I was able to actually work today!  Ok, so I also have to admit that I'm a weee lil bit sore now too, but it's a good kinda sore.  I'm also super exhausted.

To me though, that just is an excuse for more coffee!

I woke up at the crack of 10am.  How embarrassing is that?  Completely slept through my alarm, and all the horses had already been fed, watered, and even turned out before I even crawled out of bed.  But crawl I did.  A couple of cups of coffee, and away I went.

Quagga met me in the barn wanting to know if it was his turn to play today.  Had to break it to him that no, it's not his turn.  He's a filthy boy though!  Would you believe that he's supposed to be a WHITE horse?  All of the color in his mane and tail is from the MUD he's been playing in.  I'm terrified to try to wash him.  I bet it's stained.  I often get asked if he's a perlino because of it.  Nope, that's a fewspot Appaloosa there... covered in mud.

Then there was this cute lil face!  Cruz was done with breakfast and ready to go.  I threw a halter on him, and chose to do him first today.  He was of course a sweet heart for me, but with the lovely weather (yep, almost 75 out today) and a nice breeze, he was a bit full of himself.  We spent about 20 minutes with tacking up, complete with saddle, and bridle, and then lunged fully tacked.  He did GREAT!  Ok, he was a bit more spunky then normal, but nothing bad, just zingy.  I asked for a trot, and I got a TROT (since he's not gaiting yet) and when I asked for a walk, I got a nice big stepping walk.  The canter was where I expected some drama, but besides a moment of "what's on my back", nothing.  I ended up his session with a trip to the mounting block, and a good lean over and flapping of the tack.  Every thing got flapped.

Poor baby Cruz does NOT like flapping.  Every wham and bang he'd flinch in place, but never more then that.  As he relaxed, I would pet him, and love him, and then try to be a bit more scary.  Didn't take him long to fake being calm, but it's mostly an act.  He's not TRULY at ease, he's just playing at it because he knows it makes people happy with him.  Tomorrow I hope to swing a leg up and over.  As well as he did today, even with that much time off for weather and footing, I'm really impressed with the foundation work he has on him.

And then there was my other victim!  Doesn't that face just say "who, ME?".  Yeah, Poco was not super thrilled about any of this.  He huffed and he puffed, and he went in circle after circle.  He pulled and he yanked, and went in more circles.  When he FINALLY decided to be calm and attentive, I lunged him out to cool him off.

Working with Poco is a whole lot of "I really am more patient then you".  Poco so wants to have me give up and let him rest.  But no way!  I'm lunging him in a bridle right now, so that he can't pull away from me and yank me around like he did last time.  Now, that doesn't mean he's easy to work with at ALL!  He's still Poco, and he's still trying to out think me, and out maneuver me.  Basically, he just wants everything his way.

I realized though, that Poco has become something strange.  He's not a BAD horse, but he's also not a GOOD horse.  He's just a LOT of horse.  I am sure that Poco won't kick me.  I know he won't bite me, but I also know that if he can push the rules to their limit, then he sure will.  And that's kinda how today way with him.  I asked, he did... barely.  So we kicked it up a notch.  I expected him to PAY attention to ME, not everything else in the world, and he didn't want to.  I was snubbed, ignored, and blown off, until that boy was sucking wind and dripping.  Granted, as warm as it is, it didn't take very long to drip.  Can't wait to see how tomorrow goes.

And then there was the Walkers.  Beaudreaux was first.  He did not really want to stand there to be groomed up, but he would stand sideways, like this, fine.  The whole time, Black Boy was SCREAMING at him.  Beaudreaux was a gentleman when I was close, but as soon as I stepped away, he'd swing over to the other side.  This is the type of "not good" that these boys do.  Nothing bad, but not quite good.

The saddle went on like a breeze, with only one step over (which is good) and he stood like a rock for the girth to be tightened.  The bridle was pretty easy to put on, and nothing memorable happened there.

After that, we headed into the arena, to do some lunging.  Well, previously, lunging has been about a lot of egg shapes, and ovals.  Today, as soon as I asked BOOM, he was going in a circle.  I had to stop and check the horse!  Some one traded me out for a pro in ground work!  The first time I asked him to reverse, he stopped and was a bit confused, but a gentle reminder had him doing that like a pro too.

Interestingly, at one point, I saw a trot, a pace, and a lovely running walk, all within one lap.  WHAT?  That's not what a gaited horse is supposed to do!  As he got more and more tired though, he kept falling into a better gait.  I think that much of his problem is due to lack of muscle, and will be self correcting - if I'm reading him right.

Unfortunately though, just as I was cooling him out, and about to try to climb on.... he pulled a shoe.  He over reached, and clanked his own foot, resulting in the shoe mostly off.  The shoe came off with no damage to the hoof, so now I have to see how quick I can get the farrier out to replace it.  He should be able to work lightly in the tilled arena though, but my farrier will let me know later tonight if I need to hold off.  Hopefully we will have him reshod ASAP.

Now, after that, I had to get out Black Boy.  Except for the pink bit strap, doesn't he just look lovely?  And you won't believe this, but we're back to taking the bridle pretty nicely.  Ok, not perfectly, as he does try to get tall, but the head shakey thing (like nodding yes really really fast) only made an appearance while I was brushing him out.

We did have a nice long lesson on standing quietly to be tacked up.  BB likes to fidget.  Front, back, left, right, it's like he just can't stand still.  The third time he almost backed into me, while pawing, I had enough.  I went to grab the dressage whip (like a riding crop, but often a bit longer).  Now, I use the dressage whip to TOUCH the horse.  This way, I can stand behind him to move his hips, and when he paws, I can still touch the bad leg, and correct him immediately.  No smacking and whipping of the horses allowed, unless a human life is in danger.

Interestingly though, he saw my lovely bright purple dressage whip, and STOPPED.  Insta-perfect!  Huh, why didn't I think of that before?  Well, I even set down the whip, and he was STILL perfect.  This tells me that it's not nerves, it's a tantrum, and he knows better.

So, we went out and did some lunging.  Now, don't laugh, because you might hurt his feelings, but um.... I didn't get to ride him either!  Because I wore him OUT!

Can you see the lather?  That's BB's chest!  All I did was ask for a nice walk, gait, and a touch of canter on the lunge.  After so long of not working, I wanted to see how "fresh" he was.  About 20 minutes into the work out, this horse was just dripping sweat, panting (and I didn't push him hard) and quite the tuckered boy.  I spent almost as long cooling him out.  I guess 2 weeks of NOTHING really took it's toll on him (plus he did have a bit of time off before that).

Poor BB was just dripping, his head, his neck, and every spot of him I could see was sweaty.  He got walked out, brushed out really well (both to dry him, and to massage the muscles) and then loved on.  Because, did I mention that he was PERFECT?  Yeah, dead on.  He reversed, he picked up gaits when I asked, he stopped when I asked...

Did some one sneak in here and take my horses?  Does this mean that tomorrow they will all be super bad?  Well, I'm sure not about to complain at ALL, I'm just really bummed that BB tuckered out so fast, and Beaudreax threw a shoe.  I really expect to have a WONDERFUL weekend though, with these boys, and I'm so happy to be back at work!

I also managed to fit in the first bath of the year.  Rico is now a 3 color horse again, as opposed to simply being "pasture brown".  Tomorrow, I clip.  Ok, so I was supposed to clip today, but um... SOMEone slept through her alarm this morning.

And here is proof that it's spring.  Yep, that was taken on my way back inside this afternoon.  The grass is getting green!  There's not a whole lot of it yet, but it's almost visibly growing.  Every day this week, I have seen more and more green stuff everywhere.  I am SO happy!  I really hate winter, hate the cold, and just LOVE spring and everything that comes with it (flowers, foals, etc).  Hopefully, my daffodils will be blooming soon!  That's the ultimate sign that spring has sprung.


  1. Yay for Cruz! I am glad he did so well for you. He really is so responsive. I hope he's a good boy tomorrow too!

  2. I got a giggle out of the dressage whip. My bestie's gelding will stand perfect for the farrier IF she leans a lunge whip against the wall in front of him, she doesn't even have to hold him. If that whip isn't there though he's a brat.

  3. Glad you got back in the saddle and that Cruz was so good.

  4. I got a giggle out of the dressage whip. My bestie's gelding will stand perfect for the farrier IF she leans a lunge whip against the wall in front of him, she doesn't even have to hold him. If that whip isn't there though he's a brat.