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, June 12, 2011

The old grey mare just ain't what she used to be....

Because it looks like she might have a new name!

Today was our pony party.  Every Sunday a few of us get together, and have a good time riding.  I supply most of the horses, but a few have their own, which makes for a nice mix.  Around 8am the riders started arriving, and I was out at the barn before them (this is NOT normal, as I am anything but a morning person).  I have been working hard all week to be in the barn and working by 8am, but I admit, I usually run late (8:30 or so).  Since I also usually go to sleep around 2am (check water give hay at midnight, which takes 45 minutes, then wind down, and next thing I know the time is gone) well lets just say I'm not a morning person!

So, Kris found a bridle in her shopping spree the other day that would fit on ol' jug head there (no really, her head is HUGE, but so is the rest of her, so it's a large kind of pretty) and Chris wanted to ride her.  While I haven't had her long, she's been just amazing, and I felt it was ok to try it.

She had a fit about getting her feet picked.  On her fronts she tries to stand on them, but touching her heels with the hoof pick and just slowly adding pressure gets her to pick up her feet.  I don't even have to push hard, just show that I'm willing to start adding pressure.  She lifts, I praise.  She'll get the idea soon enough.  But her hinds, well that was a different story.  We lift, and she would put it back down.  Nice, gentle, but heavy.  And when her LEG weighs as much as it does, there's not a lot you can do when she pushes down.  I ended up recruiting Jae (stronger then me) to help.  I kept her from trying to walk, and he picked up her leg.  When she did what we wanted (lift and didn't push down) we would praise and give her a cookiee (alfalfa cube or horse treat).  2 tries, and she was willing to have her hoof picked.  Not perfect, but again, she's still new.

So Leah beat us into the arena on Jaz.  Now, the big grey mare has yet to really meet the other horses, so potentially this could be a problem.  I had Rachel walk her out, see how Jaz would react, and to check out the "scarey" tractor haying.  (You might remember that the same tractor spooked Poko a while back resulting in Leah eating some dirt... it's terrifying).  The mare could care less.  Got Chris mounted up, and away he went.

Now Chris is a novice rider, but the mare was simply amazing with him.  She did what he asked, and while inertia is a large factor in riding her (takes forever to get going, get stopped, and turning is like driving a semi!) but she's mild mannered and more then willing.  Chris bombed around on her, doing walk and trot work.  Rachel, Nita and I were sitting there staring at her for a while, when Leah rather pointedly asked us if we were going to ride!  Oh right.... forgot about that!

Got every one settled, tacked up and ready to go, and it started to look like a color coordinated drill team out there!

They decided to practice for the roayal wedding procession, and wave for the camera.  From left to right:  Chris on grey mare, Leah on Jazu, and Kris on Keeley.  Not long after this Kris called it quits, and I snagged her horse, riding bareback.

And MAN, that really makes you know just how out of shape you are!  My lower back and the outside of my thighs was burning when I got off.  I felt myself pinching up on the horse (a good way to lose all control and balance, relaxed is better) and kept fighting my own bad habit.  8 weeks out of the saddle really does NOT do the body any good!

But while we're riding around, we started talking about names for the big girl.  A few good ones were put out there, as well as many of the wonderful suggestions from the forums, and I've been trying them all.  Isa (Isolde) seemed to be ok for her, but most of the others were flat ignored.  Nothing picked her fancy.  Rachel suggested Avalanche, or Ava, which I thought was cute, but before we could even decide, some one mentioned a name that fit so well we all loved it.


If you don't know the story about Thumbelina, here's the basic idea.  A lady couldn't have kids, so asked a fairy/witch/kind old lady (depends on the version) to help her.  She is given barley corn which she plants in a flower pot and it grows a lovely tulip.  When she kisses the flower, inside is a perfect child, but she's only an inch tall.  This is Thumbelina.  Poor little Thumbelina is abducted and many animals try to marry her off, first a toad, then a bug (similar to a June Bug) and then a mole.  She meets a butterfly that keeps her company, and falls in love with a sparrow who is out of her league but friendly, and in the end marries the price of flowers.  The point of the story is about a woman making her own choices in the world, and not following what is expected of her "just because".  It was one of my favourites as a child.

Of course, the short version would be "Lina" because "Thumb" just sounds silly.  But that makes a whole different set of jokes.  What with the many "Lena" bred horses, and a massive draft mare (who is lovely) named Lina.... it's right up there with my Poko (er Poco Bueno?).

Every one seemed to LOVE the name idea, and I have a twisted sense of humour like that.  I did want a name that sounds feminine, with out being disgustingly girly, so that no one will say "oh, Pat... well he's so pretty!".  She's a girl, albeit a BIG girl, and deserves to be seen as such.  Lina rolls off the toungue nicely, doesn't sound like any one else I have, and makes me giggle.

So I spent this evening asking her if she was a "Lina".  She seems ok with the idea, and no more for or against it then any other.  So for now, her tentative name is Thumbelina!  (unless something happens to change my mind it will likely stay).

Most everyone took at least a little spin around the arena on her.  At the end, it was kept to a walk, to help get her muscles in shape with out making her sore or achy.  She's very much out of shape, but she's always willing to try.  I think in just a few weeks, she is going to be a wonderful horse, and the pride of the lesson students.  She's been totally bomb proof even considering this is a new place, and I know a few SCAers that might want to borrow her for some events. I honestly think she'd excell at it.

Although the funniest thing of the day...............

That "pony" on the right stands 15hands!

And yes, it was dry, dusty, and all of my pictures are a bit hazy.  It didn't get as hot as I thought, and we ended the day watching Jaz and Daltrey mow my lawn, with the help of Diesel (aka Stevie) the OTTB.  The boys were loving the muchies, the breeze kept it nice.

I turned Lina out into the main pasture for the first time.  That was a non event.  She fits in so well, and is such a great horse!  I adore her tons!


  1. While she does have a huge head and is very stocky, she doesn't look all that much taller than the other horses. Thumbelina is a cute name for a special mare:)
    Except for some reason I keep wanting to say "Thimble-ina" lol!


  2. I love the name Thumbelina! Maybe one day if it works out she could "Marry" the prince of the Sugarbush Drafts! Not the King "Big O" but the prince you are raising right on your farm!!

  3. Lina...I like it. Good story too!

  4. Looks like I'm riding a Shetland Pony next to Chris & Lina.

  5. Lina is built like Rosie, a true work horse build. I absolutely adore the draft temperament so it doesn't surprise me that she's taking everything in stride.

  6. She's a sweetie.
    Umm~You're not planing to breed gray into your bloodline??? I don't know the backstory on te mare,so -- and I do jump to conclusions..

  7. At this time, I'm planning to use this mare as a lesson horse. IF she muscles up, and has something to give to the breed that I can't get elsewhere, then and only then will I think about it. Yet, regardless, she will not be a good cross to O, no matter how well she muscles up, works, or anything else, so that cross is just OUT because of her inherent flaws. So if I did breed her, it would not be that way.

    But, with that said, color is as color does. The SDHR is known for it's color, but not restricted by color. MY problem with grey is the cancer that goes along with it. The point of the Sugarbush Draft is that it is a draft built for riding, who happens to have color. Grey is not restricted, and color is secondary to all the other traits (conformation, temperment, athleticism, work ethic).

    SDHR is not ApHC where color matters as much. Oh to owners it might matter, but that's a personal choice for everyone. Anytime I breed, I only look at producing the best horse possible, not the best color possible. Hence, I won't rule it out completely, but it's ruled out like 75% (who knows what the future holds, as she is a pretty girl)

    With that said, I'm looking at Lina as a lesson horse. I had planned to get a gelding, I prefer mares personally, so I'm thrilled with her. It's just that my first few questions about her were "are you going to breed her to O?".

  8. Looks like I'm riding a Shetland Pony next to Chris & Lina.