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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

After the weekend

Oh wow, how time flies.  So this weekend Cali went home, Nox went home, and Cruz went home.  Hanna leaves tomorrow I believe.  This leaves me with Beaudreaux, Black Boy, Voodoo and Ozzy to work.  Of course, I also have Poko (and Jae) plus Scorch, Katy, Dream, Cayenne, and the lesson horses (Ash, Boo, Ishka, Keeley, Diesel, and Doodles) who get worked.

Well, my weekend is Sunday/Monday, and on Sundays I spend the day with friends/clients who come up to hang out and play.  Mondays I completely veg out and usually try to rest.  So today is my Monday.  I head out to the barn and decide to work my way down the stalls.  Closest is Black Boy, so guess who is first up?  I haltered him, headed out, and started grooming/tacking up.  He was a wonderful gentleman.  A bit heavy on the left hind (as in lazy and not holding it up) but if that's the worst I can say, well... we've made progress!  Normally he fidgets or fusses in some manner.  Fixing this habit is just a whole lot of routine.  Ignore it, and most often it goes away, especially if it doesn't get him out of work.

Now, from there, I went into the arena, and climbed on.  BB was great.  We started with a simple warm up to stretch all the muscles (walking and stretching into the bit).  A few laps later, he decided that he was done with this, and it was time to head home.  He would NOT go forward.  He side passed left and right, and would back up, or try to spin.  Bugger.

So, after trying to get SOME forward, and the problem slowly getting worse, I went the other way.  Lunge line at the ready, we worked on FOCUS.  He was totally blowing me off, and checking out the girls in the pasture.  The more he looked, the harder he works.  After a few minutes, he quit, began to focus, and back up I go.  We do another 5 minutes, and he pulls the same stunt, only this time it's the gate: "I know that's the way out, and I'm DONE".  Oh I don't think so bud.  So, I ride him away, across, and back, and each time we get to the gate, he's blowing off my commands.  Headed down and to the back of the arena, and he tried to do the first problem again, no forward motion.  Ok, fine.

Back to the lunge, and away we went.  Reverse, gait changes, more reversing, and a whole lot of "listen to ME" and eventually he went back to a good boy.  Evidently, BB has a habit of being lazy, and after a nice weekend off, he thinks that not working will get him out of, well, work.

But after the second set of ground work, I had my BB back.  He walked out nice and calm, and I could finish the "warm up".  Yeah, so it was pointless now, but it's the principle of the thing.  I get him walking, circling, and working SO WELL for me, that I'm really having fun up on him.  We get into some gait transitions, trying to get him to pick up the right gait (i.e. not pace) and he's struggling with that a bit.  I would say that 2 out of 3 tries I got a pace.  The third though was lovely, and he got hugs and love for it.  Just as I am starting some yo-yos, I see a big bright flash of lightning.

Now, let me mention that it was a humid and decent 55 degree day, very overcast, but only 10% chance of rain.  The air was still and some what eerie.  I had wondered if this was working against BB's mind set, but it really doesn't matter.  He has to learn to be nice and calm and trust worthy regardless.

But, lightning is a whole different story.  The bolt hit a few miles away, much closer then I'd like.  Yeah, and I don't mess around with that sort of thing.  I figure an arena is like a golf course.... and I'm the tallest thing there!  So, after only 32 minutes of riding work, with about 17 of those being good honest effort, I had to call it quits.

Right now, I'm sitting here waiting for the lightning to stop.  I really don't expect rain, so I should be able to head back out once the front passes.  I have more daylight to work with as well!

And yep, I got pictures =)  Sadly, the camera battery is dead, but once it's charged, I will either add them here, or in the next update, which hopefully will have the rest of my rides.


  1. We've had lightning here too the past few days and it's threatening the same right now. That is the scariest stuff. The house we used to live in, lightning stuck in our front yard twice so I get a bit freaked over that stuff.

    Glad you got BB through his periods of cutting out of on you. I am grateful I haven't had to deal with a horse with absolutely no forward. I've worked with a couple whose forward had been compromised but they still moved in a forward direction. No forward at all would be very furstrating, I think.

  2. Sounds like the lunging did a lot of good for him :)