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.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I have figured out why those Olympic riders are so skinny!

Every muscle in my body is telling me it's been over used!  (That's Poco's fault).  I think this type of exercise is good for me though.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

The past couple of days I have passed out early, and hit the barn as soon as I had coffee in my system.  I LOVE this weather, and I love this time of year.  I'm sure I'll say that so much people will want to start strangling me, but it's really true.

The Walkers, Black Boy and Beaudreaux have been very nice lately.  Of course, remembering yesterday's lessons perfectly, after riding every one again today, well... some things get murky.  Lemme see if I can get ya up to speed though.

Beaudreaux is willing and cooperative.  He's still anxious when tied, but getting SO much better every day.  He is a bit buddy bound to BB, but besides a few whinnies, nothing bad.  He's actually better when he's working and away from BB then when BB is working and away from him.  My poor farrier is still playing catch up from the snows, so we'll see when I can get him out.  Talked to the owner's daughter today, and made a plan to pull the shoe, since the other front is also loose, and then even if my farrier can't get out tomorrow, I can still get riding in.  But all in all Beaudreaux is a champ!  I hope I'm not jinxing myself, but I am betting that he'll be ready to go by the end of the month.

I have to say though, Beaudreaux will do just about anything I ask for just a hug and a "good boy".  I'm really shocked at him, and how much he tries to please.  I do think he's going to be a saint in a very short time. Now he's sadly out of shape.  After about 5 minutes of anything faster then a walk, he's dripping wet.  I'm trying to build up his muscles to get him able to hold a gait, but that means a whole lot of walk, gait, walk, gait type of work.  At this time, he's been very willing, and happy to do what I ask of him.  His gait is all over the place, but it seems like when he stops fighting it, the gait falls right into place.

Black Boy, or BB, is on again off again.  One day he's good, the next, he's not as good, then the next he's brilliant.  Much of this is just testing me.  I have been working with both to look inside their mouth, and right now that seems to be what they are the worst at.  BB though likes to play mind games, and will very easily tune me out.  He has no problem with pulling evasions, and like, drifting left while I say straight, or trying to push through the bridle, as opposed to accepting the contact and collecting up into gait.  Again, nothing bad, but the types of things that I can easily see making a less stable rider get very nervous.  Now, BB's ground manners are coming along great though.  He still swings around and does silly stuff when tied, and he's some what heavy to lift the hinds at times (when he's distracted looking for Beaudreaux) and other minor issues.  It's just a whole lot of "I don't wanna do that NOW" type of attitude from him.  He'll DO it, but he doesn't LIKE to do it when asked all the time yet. 

I haven't had anything severely bad yet, but BB is definitely testing me. I have made sure to work the boys at alternating intervals though.  My mother told me that she always gets BB first, then Beaudreaux when she brings them in or out, and I told her to stop that, so they don't get in a habit.  What I've been doing, is catching the horse that is the furthest away from me.  I figure that will encourage them to COME to me, and discourage running away.  Granted, so far, both are in my pocket ponies.
 
The my little Cruz.  Poor Cruz had a slight melt down today.  It was cooler, cloudier, and a bit breezy when I worked him, which meant that he was a bit jumpier then he was yesterday.  The baby boy about jumped out of his skin 3 times just tacking up!  I'm using an English saddle with him right now, because it's the best fit.  I do have a western that fits him, but it weighs a TON, and I'd rather limit the weight the poor baby has to deal with.  Lemme tell ya, I'm not some itty bitty girl!

But, after he got tacked up, we did some ground work, and he was fine with that.  The stirrups flapping were no biggie, the wind catching the saddle flaps and lifting them didn't phase him.  But then, the mounting block.  Oh my!  Today, it was a monster, and he did NOT want to step up to it.  I use the mounting block with young horses because it's easier to get them used to weight.  I can slowly lean/lay on them, with out the pull of stepping up from the ground.  But, Cruz said that he did not want to be near it, and it was strange looking today (while yesterday it wasn't a big deal at all).  We did some ground work to drive him beside and around it, and after about 5 minutes of that, suddenly his brain kicked in!  He was like "oh, what's that, can I sniff it?  Can I lick it?  Can I PAW it?"  Well, with the way he acted before, I was like "sure bud, you kill that block all you want".  After that, he was ok.  But then, the next issue.....

He didn't want me to stand NEXT to him.  He kept trying to put me in front of him.  I stepped beside him, and he'd turn to face me, so I'd move him off.  Wash, rinse, repeat a few times.  Eventually he figured out that didn't work, so let me stand beside him nicely.  THEN, I flapped the stirrups against the saddle, and THAT was scary.  *sigh* babies!  But we worked though it all, and ended up with me stepping up into the stirrup, laying over him, loving on him... from both sides, and him being a good boy about it.  The best part about how he acted today though, was that he was being "bad" not truly scared.  He was intentionally evading the work, which to me says we've made a HUGE step forward.  I did manage to get all over him, and he took my weight and walked a few steps with out any hassle at all.  But, with that said, he had more trouble with bridle commands from his back, and got confused.

So, Cruz heads back to ground driving.  His previous sessions were .... half hearted?  Basically, I tried to get him used to the bit, and taking pressure on it during our ice storms.  That means there wasn't that much walking and turning, and definately nothing faster.  Well, today he said that it wasn't enough, so I'm stepping him back to ground driving.  Cruz is a smart cookie, and I think that in a day or 2, we'll be back in the saddle, and progressing faster then before.

And Poco.  Ah, Mr. Pokey Poney!  All I have to say, is Leah, your horse WORE ME OUT!  I lunged him until he was nice and wet, but not quite dripping.  I had to fight to get him to pay attention to ME and what I asked of him.  He kept trying to go to Lala land.  He'd go through the motions, but when I gave a command, he didn't hear it, because he was mentally on a beach some where drinking margaritas.  Silly gelding.  So up went the jump.  Ok, it's not much of a jump, but Poco can't ignore it or he runs into it.  Yeah... he ran into it a few times today.

At one point, Poco decided that he was SICK of this game, and ready to quit.  I asked him to reverse, and he turns to me and says "NO, screw you!".  Uh,  I don't think so BUD.  I asked again, giving more dominant body language, and then touched his shoulder with the end of the lunge line.  I think "tap" might imply too hard of contact.  Poco blew up at me!  He reared and glared at me.

Now, I didn't think horses were all into the glaring and facial expressoins... but Poco isn't normal.

Needless to say, I worked his little hiney off!  As soon as he realized that type of attitude got ME up in HIS face, and I was not about to back down, Poco got very pleasant.  Heh, like THAT will get him out of working... HA!

I put on reins, grabbed my head wear, and climbed aboard.  Ok, there was some on again and off again, because I don't know what midget rode in my saddle last, but my legs weren't THAT short.  Worst of all, Poco did NOT want to just STAND for me.  I had to get Jae to hold his head while I got on and off.  I finally got adjusted, and asked him to step out.  Oh boy did he.

It took almost all of my strength to hold that big boy back.  Poco is a tank of a horse, and when he decides to lean into the bridle, you feel it... arms, back, abs... feel the burn!

After a few laps, Poco realized that I can outride him, and he started working with me... mostly.  I'd get about 75% good, to 25% evasion.  But in this case, evasion is better then threats.  I started making him think about what we were doing, and um... Leah, I kinda dressaged your horse up a bit.  He's really GOOD at it too!  But I asked for round, and to accept bit contact, and to bend... and then I had his brain working with me.  Well, until we got close to the gate that is.  At that point, it was all about "let me out".

I finished up with Poco with a whole lot of Standing and waiting.  He hated that.  I had to work to keep him from moving off, so I wasn't resting either.  By the time I was done, I was jello in the legs.  But Poco didn't buck me off, and he didn't kill me... but I'm pretty sure he doesn't really like me any more! 

I also have been working on clipping Rico, and cleaning up the other horses.  I had planned to bathe Quagga today, but it didn't happen.  I just ran out of time (i.e. daylight).  But, I am happy to say that while I did all my pony work, Jae finished the barn siding on the arena side!  I can't tell you how happy I am about this.  Not only is it covered, but it's also painted, and it looks.... LOVELY!

Sadly, I left my phone inside, and didn't get a single picture!  I do try to remember it, and I work hard to get pictures because I know that the horse's owners always like to see their babies.  So, tomorrow, I plan to do better.  But for today, I hope a simple update is good enough. 

6 comments:

  1. Just wanted to say "howdy!" I've been following your blog for awhile, after somehow coming across the Sugarbrush Draft Horse Facebook. Enjoy reading about the handful of horses you're working with and definitely see some similarities. I run the Equestrian Education program for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio, including a "lease" program that involves a lot of tuning up and putting miles on peoples saddle horses. Love the pictures you post and the day to day training logs! I wish I were a little more consistent with mine. ;) Keep blogging, and ride on!

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  2. People who say horses do all the work don't have a clue.

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  3. Poco is always that reactive. If you touch him with a crop — just touch him — he acts like you've just beaten him senseless. Drama Queen.

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  4. That type of muscle soreness gives me a feeling of accomplishment like nothing else :)

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  5. People who say horses do all the work don't have a clue.

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  6. Just wanted to say "howdy!" I've been following your blog for awhile, after somehow coming across the Sugarbrush Draft Horse Facebook. Enjoy reading about the handful of horses you're working with and definitely see some similarities. I run the Equestrian Education program for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio, including a "lease" program that involves a lot of tuning up and putting miles on peoples saddle horses. Love the pictures you post and the day to day training logs! I wish I were a little more consistent with mine. ;) Keep blogging, and ride on!

    ReplyDelete