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, February 25, 2011

A return to life as we know it!

Ah, a normal day!  My father returned home from the hospital today, complete with stitches in his leg.  Yesterday a tree fell on my car and shattered the back window.  And then today... things are back to normal!

Cruz can't seem to understand left.  He will stop, back, and do just about anything else, except turn his head to the left.  So today we did some stretching work, and in hand stuff.  Nothing complex, just I pull on his halter to the left, and he turns his head.  Add bridle and repeat.  Massage neck, check back, and repeat some more.  I THINK he has it now.  Right is no problem, just left.  If he doesn't have it tomorrow, then I'll just work around it, and see if he's one of those that learns better with a rider.  I've had one of those before.  In all the many horses I have worked with, I've seen ONE (That would be Leah's Jazu).

And speaking of Leah's horses..... I had an absolutely amazing ride on Poco!  As you can see from the image above, I completely dressaged him out.  Check out the bling on that boy!  He's in Scorch's tack... which fit him perfectly, and looks very stunning on him.  There was NO LUNGING first.  I simply climbed up, and away we went.  Poco was good at first, but a bit confused.  

He'd ask me "what's with all the leg on the side?" and then move away from it.  I'd praise him (because that is exactly WHY the leg was on his side) and we'd move to checking other things.  Did you know that Poco will half pass?  He's not too bad at it either!  Now, he's not really sure what it is or why he's doing it, but he's willing to try if I ask nicely.  We did a ton of things, from haunches in to collecting and extension work.  Now, don't get me wrong, Poco isn't GOOD at it (yet) but it's working his mind.  With all these aids coming at him, he had to constantly THINK. 

What made me laugh, is that I completely blew his mind by asking for a figure 8.  Sideways.  Poco informed me that is NOT how we do things, so I quietly kept asking, and he gave in, so I praised.  That was our turning point.  From then on, he would try what he thought I meant, and actually WORK with me.

No, he was not perfect.  Yes, he tried the "I'm going to veer out of the gate" move a number of times, but he never once pinned his ears or threatened me.  I had an almost willing partner!  We did halts, yo-yos, and other physical conditioning stuff.  And Poco was right there working for me the whole time.  It was a GOOD RIDE!

And then the Walkers.  Beaudreaux was up first today.  We started out with better then normal ground manners.  From there, it went downhill a bit.  Lunging, he kicked out at me twice!  That resulted in more and harder working.  He refused to reverse constantly.  Now Beaudreaux is not the best at reversing, but he normally will make an effort.  Today, he wanted NONE of it.  When I went to get on him, he did the whole head shake thing.  See, he does this thing where he loosens his lips, and nods his head really really fast, making his lips flap.  Normally Black Boy does this!

Yes, I checked the horse to make sure I had the right one.  These were all tricks that BB uses!

But, after some long stretchy walk work, he started being better.  Not good, but better.  He was all over the place under saddle, and after only a short time (15 - 20 minutes I'd guess) his back started sagging from being tired!  Yep, I wore Beaudreaux out with little more then walking and some light lunging.

Now, I think that much of his bad was from being sore.  We're having weird weather changes (65 yesterday, 50 today, and 70 tomorrow) which is making MY old bones ache.  But, he's also been in hard work for a while now, which means that his muscles are sore.  I can't say which one, or combination it is, but I'm sure that's his reason.

And my last horse up for the day, was Black Boy.  Here's where things get really weird.  All of those habits Beaudreaux did, I normally see from BB.  And yet, I pulled BB out, tied him up, groomed him, tacked him, and he never fidgeted!  Then I went out, and climbed on him with out any lunging at all.  And he was amazing.  I had some nice walk work, good stretching, and amazing moments of gait.  He was dead on perfect!  About the only issue we had was when I asked for the gait the first time, and he wasn't sure if I meant it.  I asked again "louder"  (a harder tap) and he went right into it.  Now, because he's a horse, and my idea of perfect is how hard they try, not how well they necessarily succeed, I have to admit that we did have some gait issues.  I could get a whole lap of the arena in gait, but more then that and he'd start to break.  And more then that and he was sucking for air.  He's rather out of shape!

All in all though, it was a great day!  Every one got a little extra love, and um.... that crazy P Loco, he got some "yard time" to go with it.  All in all it was a kinda weird day.

BUT.... I also have to brag a bit.  I've had these schooling chaps, that I haven't been able to fit in for a couple of years.  Just to make it an even better day, I decided to try them on, and THEY FIT!  Oh, happy dances for me.  Ok, so schooling chaps are not the prettiest thing ever to be seen in, but they are warm, they are functional, and they make me stick to the horses like glue.

Since I busted my half chaps recently (blew out the zippers) this was a very pleasant surprise.  And of course, who doesn't like clothing to prove that you're getting slimmer? 

I'm a very happy girl!  And now, tomorrow we have pretty much perfect weather, and I'm going to have FOUR good rides (I hope). 


  1. Don't you go whining about your changeable weather, girl, or I may have to slap you up the side of the head! (I would kill for that 50!)

  2. I have to say I LOVE seeing Paco in Dressage gear!

  3. Wow, I am so glad your dad is OK. And Cruz is coming along, I am sure he will figure out left eventually! Good luck today!

  4. Poco + English = just plain wrong LOL. Sort of like seeing a big guy like Fiacha in ballet tights.

  5. Evensong, never fear, I LOVE my weather. Now, I do whine about cold weather though, and 50 is normally cold, but yesterday was strange. I was riding around with no jacket! So no, not a complaint at all from me.

    And Leah, I think Poco is CUTE all dressaged up.

  6. Woohoo! Happy dance from me to you! It must feel great to have the chaps fit again. I know that feeling! Mine had gotten rather tight around the knees, but I could still wear them...slung a bit lower than usual. Now they fit better, too.

  7. The Walker thing - I call it the bop-bop-bop-bop. Sounds kind of like the lip smacking together noise. Every saddle horse I've met (TWH, SSH, and grade) does the lip thing, and they all do it for different reasons!

  8. Funder, It's not that slow of a lip flap. This is a very fast head shaking, whether walking or still. THe sound the lips make is like when a kid purses their lips, and runs their finger over it going bpbpbpbpbpb. It's not the normal relaxed head bob of a gaited horse, with loose lips.

    Beaudreax was doing it as an evasion to keep me from having control of his head. More of a mild mannered version of head slinging. Of course, the poor guy is kinda creaky and achy though. He's not used to the whole working out thing!

  9. Yeah, I know what you're talking about. You're right, it's different from the bopbopbop lip-flap, but I've seen the headshaking thing too.

  10. The Walker thing - I call it the bop-bop-bop-bop. Sounds kind of like the lip smacking together noise. Every saddle horse I've met (TWH, SSH, and grade) does the lip thing, and they all do it for different reasons!

  11. I have to say I LOVE seeing Paco in Dressage gear!