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.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What are these words coming out of my mouth?

I'll make you a deal......

Yeah, that's what I said.  My dear friend Leah owns this horse Poco.  For a few weeks now, I have been working with him to improve his behavior.  Now, I've known Poco for a while, almost 4 years to be exact.  My first ride on him resulted in pies.... as a repayment for getting thrown.  After that, we had many struggles and issues of "you WILL do what I want you to, and you WILL be nice about it".  I put 30 days on him back in the day.  I just put almost 30 more on him.

Poco's story is the perfect example of novice rider buying too much horse.  Leah fell in love with the idea of owning a horse, and with out a horse buddy to walk her through it, she bought the exact wrong one.  Head strong, sensitive, flighty, reactive, and belligerent!  Poco was a work of art.  And yet, conformationally he's not bad at all.  A nice shoulder, a good back, a tad short in the neck, and not a single bit of "foof" to him.  This is a work animal!

Leah worked hard to make him the horse he has become.  I can't count the number of calls I got about "what do I do now?  You won't believe what Poco is doing!".  Yeah, he is a real piece of work.  And since last fall, he's been spiraling downward.  One slip and he's taking advantage, making another slip up, so he gets more of an advantage.  This is what Poco does.  He's not a novice owner's horse. 

But he's one of the strangest horses I've been around.  I can put him with any strange horse, dominant or submissive, and know that he won't kill them.  I know that a kid could lead this horse around, or get him to do anything from the ground (now).  Riding, oh that's a WHOLE different story!

As you've seen from our recent work outs, Poco is BORED.  Just bored silly.  He hates circles.  He is tired of being ridden and just working for no goal.  Challenge him, and he revolts... while he loves every single second of it.  And sensitive!  Oh, a slight shift in posture, and he'll give me a side pass.  If I even think "back" he's backing up.  And this horse has an ENGINE on him to die for.  Of course, he also blows through the bit, and not only hangs on my hands, he pulls against me.  With that short strong neck of his, it makes for a great upper body work out.

So, this morning, I'm dragging my lazy butt out to the barn, to be met by Leah.  She says "I've come to a decision, I'm putting Poco up for sale".  Oh my!  It was only yesterday that I had the most amazing ride on him.  I found myself thinking that I missed riding a horse like this.... strong, yet responsive.  Willing, yet a challenge.  The last time I rode a horse like that was.....

.... when my darling Ash was his age.  Ash, my ultimate horse, my ideal of perfection..... he reminds me of her, in all her/his emotional turmoil and glory.

I found my mind spinning, and possibilities flashing in front of my eyes faster then I could even put a name to them.

Poco is Scorch's bud.  They play hard, but play well.  Scorch is a stallion, so he can't exactly be kept with the girls, and I have way too many girls, but he needs a friend as strong and eager to play as he is.  I want to trail ride with Scorch, and he'd need a buddy, a nice gelding buddy.

Jae wants to ride, but we have nothing that suits him.  Jae doesn't like the tall horses, but he's all leg, so needs something to fit.  He loves the feel of Keeley, but she's aging quickly.  Poco is enough horse to hold Jae and take up his leg.  While Jae's a novice rider, he doesn't really count because of years riding dirt bikes.  Poco can tolerate his mistakes, and is smart enough to cover for him... and those 2 adore each other!

Poco is only going to get slower from here.  I need a nice wide body horse for the more advanced, yet heavier riders.  A horse willing and mentally able to joust.  I'd have to train that horse of course, but wasn't it only yesterday that I said Poco would be a perfect horse for it?

And trail rides!  I hate trail riding.... only because I hand off my quiet safe and sane horses to the newer riders.  I always take the green or problem horse, because I know I can handle it.  I mean, I train horses for a living, I should be the one of the "iffy" horse.  And hence trail riding is always so much work.  But with Poco, I would have a horse that's too much for most people, and yet not that much for me.  A fun ride, a relaxing ride. I could TRAIL RIDE again!

All that and more passed across my brain.  And I felt my lips loosen, I heard my voice, and I realized I was saying it, "I'll make you a deal".  The deal I offered wasn't that great, and Poco is worth much more to ME then the dollars exchanged.

"Done" she said.  And he was mine!  MINE!

Ok, mine and hers.  I mean, Poco will always be part Leah's horse, and there's nothing that will ever change that.  Oh I have plans for him, and we get to see how the big boy does with me.  He's a great size, and a nice ride, but we have some work to do still.  My one concession..... A slight name change!  The Pokey Pony will no longer be referred to as Poco, mistaking this wonderful draft cross wanna be for a descendant of the Poco Bueno lines...(and before you think I'm picking on those lines, I have at minimum 3 Poco Bueno lined horses) But instead, he will from now on be known as Poko, the Pokey Pony!  My darling P Loco!

I admit, I'm still partially in shock.  Who would have thought that I'd make a deal on a horse today?  I'm supposed to be selling, not BUYING.... but oh I can make all the right excuses!  And it's not like he's really leaving Leah either, since she's over so often.  He's still in her family, just as Daltrey is still in mine.

I made the deal with out even thinking it all the way through.  I made it on the spur of the moment (and I NEVER do that with horses!).  And I can't say I will regret it one bit. 

Hehehehe, but Poco is going to have to get used to his new outfit......
Because he's going to be a dressage pony for a while!


  1. Sounds like a really good idea - I like him and his strong opinions - I think you'll be a great team - what will Leah do now?

  2. Jae still speaking to you? He prolly thinks it was my idea!

  3. Kate, I still Jazu the Wonder Pony. Daltrey will be a yearling in March.

  4. All I can say is wow lol I am happy for both you & Leah. I think you both get the best out of this deal. She knows her boy is a great hands & won't end up being mistreated or sold to someone who'd do who knows what with him & you get a pretty good package in this guy. Congrats all the way around.

  5. You are truly a great friend. Leah is lucky to have you, and you her. Sounds like the perfect situation. And Poko will someone that understands him and give him a purpose, just what he needs.

    Sounds like a very happy ending...or rather a new beginning :)

    Congrats to all,

  6. That was a surprise ending! For me... and I guess for yas well! He looks like he is a super horse - I love the heavier horses myself!

  7. Read the news over at Leah's first. Although Poco isn't a 'beginner' horse he did learn a lot with Leah. And now we all get to watch as Poko learns more with you.

    btw I got a giggle out of your comment about him being all blinged out in Scorch's dressage tack

  8. Leah, Jae's still talking to me. He was only upset that I didn't tell him before I did it. When I told him that the words just fell out of my mouth like it was meant to be, he said "Oh, ok.... so I get to ride him, right?". HA! Men!

    Oh yeah, and guess who got spoiled tonight? Yeah, that's the Poko. The big boy got some extra loving from Jae... because it's his new horse, or mine... depending upon how bad he's being!

  9. It's not the easy thing to do, but it's the right thing. Period.

  10. I read about the exchange at Leah's blog--it sounds pretty dang close to ideal for everyone.

    And. Ahem. Poko sounds to ME like an endurance horse .

    Craves a challenge? Endurance horse.
    Wants to get out of the arena? Endurance horse.
    Enthusiastic about food? Endurance horse. Well-behaved in a crowd of excitable nitwit horses? Endurance horse.
    You WANT to spend time with this horse?
    Endurance rider!

  11. What a great way to sort it out. Perfect fit for you and Jae, and Leaf will still be able to see her sweet boy! win win!

  12. Jae still speaking to you? He prolly thinks it was my idea!

  13. That was a surprise ending! For me... and I guess for yas well! He looks like he is a super horse - I love the heavier horses myself!