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, June 10, 2011

It's official, I'm a horse trader!

Ever have one of those deals that is too good to be true, but it's really true?  Well, I stumbled upon one of those the other day.

I have been looking at selling some of my smaller lesson horses that are rarely used in order to get a draft or draft cross lesson horse for the big guys who come out to ride.  I'm sorry, but a 6'4" guy just doesn't fit on a 13.3. hand pony!  I don't really teach kids to ride, and I have no children of my own, so Cayenne was the "best" option of horse for me to sell.  My plan, sell Cayenne, use the money to buy a nice and well trained draft horse.

With that said, she's also my orphan.  I hand raised her, I pampered and spoiled her while trying to be sure not to let her have too many bad habits, and I did all of her training.  She's a wonderful and fun little horse, and just loves human attention.  Well, again, I am lacking for time, and I don't need as many horses as I have, so I'm slimming down, so Cayenne went on the sales list.  But I was adamant that she would get the BEST home possible.  She's my baby!  And if I get a home that would keep me updates on her regularly, then even better!  (Because nothing sucks like trying to get info when the owner doesn't want to give you that).

So, when checking on some of my ads on Craig's List, I saw an ad a few posts above mine.  Now, I'm pretty sure that for most people, CL (Craig's List) is not exactly the be all and end all of advertising, and you assume that most of the people who contact you, or who you contact, will be wack jobs.

So, A few lines above mine there's an ad for a shire mare.  Well, I'm a draft lover, so I just HAD to look.  I opened the ad, and saw "Want to trade for Quarter Horse"  uh..... WHAT?!?!

Most times it's the other way around.  Have quarter horse, wish I had a draft horse (at least here).  So, since I'm trying to sell a quarter horse in order to get a draft horse, I sent an inquiry.  I will be honest, I completely expected to get no response, OR to get "Yeah, I have this rank, nasty untrained ancient horse I will trade for your perfectly broke AQHA horse".  I mean, every one wants something for nothing!

So, I get back pictures of this lovely mare, and I had spoken to the owner on the phone.  The mare is broke, lazy, quiet, but a little rusty (I don't recall her exact words but that is the impression I got).  Owner wants something smaller, basically.  I showed her what I had, and then asked the leading questions to see how good of a home it is.  Come to find out, it's PERFECT for Cayenne.  Horse people who know what they are doing, love their horses, and really USE them.

And the mare?  Well, she looked nice, but she really looked sweet as can be, and sweet matters more then pretty for a lesson horse.  By this time I'm getting a little excited.  Half of me is sad thinking that Cayenne won't be here for ever, but most of me is thrilled.  And then I start thinking "well..... if it's too good to be TRUE....".

And Jae of course is all for the deal.... so long as the draft mare meets his criteria.  In his words, "I am not giving up my first born daughter to just ANYone".  Now, is it just me, or is that kinda cute?  Our little orphan is his "first born".  Yeah... he's a keeper!

But besides that, he's all for it.  So, we arrange a time to meet, and the horse's owner arrives with horse in trailer.  She walks her out of the trailer, and.... lets just say her pictures do NOT do her justice.  What looked to be a short neck was a decent neck.  What looked to be a long back was only a touch long, her legs are amazing, her face is very pretty, and she's a tank.  Nice and 'short' (for a draft) but solid as I could wish for.  This lady could, ahem, pull her own plow!

Oh, and she's broke to ride AND drive.  She really COULD pull her own plow.

So we tacked her up, and found a few minor issues.  As an example, she is heavy to pick up her feet.  I poke with the hoof pick, and she changes her mind easily.  She doesn't like to take the bit, but a nice cookie and it's suddenly a decent idea.  No mean problems at all, and her personality is SWEET.  I have been saying that a lot, but she really is just a very lovey and huggable horse.

Jae made a few laps of the arena, decided she's a "nice mare" and I let the owner know we're SOLD!

So later this evening, I had some people come out to ride.  One is a more advanced student, Amy, who is a solid rider and just tweaking the last of her technique.  Well, one look at this mare, and Amy wanted to ride her.  I gave her the whole "well, I have no idea what she'll do, but you're welcome to try" and so at the end of the day, we tacked her up, and Amy took her out.

Oh, she was amazing!  Ok, not perfect, but I didn't expect perfect.  She was a saint for about 15 minutes in the Texas heat, and then she got tired.  At that point she started heading for the gate (common problem) and when Amy MADE her do what she needs to, well, she gave a half hearted hop.  Ok, it wasn't even both hind legs, just a lift of her hip after a nice kick to get her paying attention.  She obviously doesn't care to be kicked too hard OR made to sweat.

So, she's a great horse in my opinion.  Yeah, she's going to need a tune up and conditioning, but she's WONDERFUL.  She's exactly the type of horse I would have bought.  So, we just took out the middle man, and swapped right over.  I guess that means I'm officially a horse trader now, since I've traded for a horse.

And Cayenne, well they LOVE her.  She's at her new home, settling in like she's always lived there, and being her normal little self.  The owner called me this evening, and I thought "oh no, there's a problem, there HAS to be a problem... this is too good to be true!"  But nope, she just had a few questions, and wanted to let me know how the girl was doing.  I told her about the mare, and we're both just as pleased as can be.  AND I'm getting updates on my baby!  I can't tell you how happy I am.

But I have a little problem with the big girl here.  Her name was Maggie.  Well, my donkey is named Maggie Mae.  Now, while they look nothing alike, I can't have two ladies around here with the same name.  I checked, and Maggie the draft horse is not really in tune with her name, but rather the tone of voice used.  She answered to "big girl" and "baby caakes" as well as "sweet heart" rather well.  So I have no restrictions on name.  Doesn't have to sound alike at all, but she needs something proper for a 2200 pound horse (ok, she's very fat).

The best idea I've had so far is Isolde (as in Tristan and Isolde) with a short version of Izzy (since Issy was decided to be "ick").  I kinda like it, but I wanted to see what every one else thinks.  Suggestions are welcome!

And I will say, while I had ruled her out as a breeder before, after seeing her in person, I can't help but think "lets see how she looks when she's in shape".  I can say though, that she will not be bred to O, as his minor flaws and hers are the same.  I would only breed her to something that just happens to compliment her... but with that said, I have something that compliments her!  Long neck, nice sloped shoulder, and good length of back, but a tad weak on the hip... this mare has a lovely hip.......   So it's not completely ruled out, but it's not why I got her.  Decisions about breeding can wait, but her training is about to come into full swing!

So, let me hear your ideas for what you'd call a 16 hand grey draft horse that's as sweet as can be, and a little bit regal in her personality!


  1. I have to tell you I am so excited about Baby....Cayenne. She is an absolute doll and when I turned her out to pasture she ran as fast as she could, straight out to my big Percheron...as if to say " Hey...you look familiar." She acts as though she was raised in this herd all her life. Thank you so much and Yes....it does seem to good to be true!:)

  2. She is so pretty! I think you should hang out with her for a while and eventually she will "tell" you her name. Neat to have the "anonymous" comment up above there too. ;-)

  3. I agree with Mary on the name.

  4. That said, I also like Guinevere & Rowena.

  5. Thanks "Anonymous" (Don't know if you want your name out there or not). I'm just so thrilled that you like the Baby, and that she's going to get the attention she deserves. I mean I am on cloud 9 about all of this!

    I'm not picking a name until I figure out which one fits her, and the name she LIKES, but I am the worst about coming up with new name ideas, so I like to have options to try out. I've been taking the ideas and calling her by each one for a bit to see if anything just works for her. So far, she's still settling in a bit, so it's all still up in the air.

    And now I'm winding up for yet another busy day =) Lessons in a bit, and a showing this afternoon. I am really looking forward to Sunday Pony party though!

  6. She is GORGEOUS !! I like 'em big too as you know. Glad the trade worked out great for both.

    Enjoy the Sunday Pony Party!

  7. name suggestion: Pearl - she is big round and white!