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.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wow, it's been BUSY! An update around the farm

So it's been a while since I posted anything.  Would you believe that I set up a few posts to auto post, and I'm STILL this far behind?

Well that's a good thing for me, for the most part!  Let me catch y'all up on what I've been doing, and how it's going.

First off, I'm back into riding.  I haven't had vertigo in more then a week, and probably closer to 2 weeks now!  My face is healing up pretty nicely (see picture there, while not the prettiest, it IS recent).  I've put up a few horses for sale, got some interest in them, and stumbled upon a deal that is just too good to be true.

So, first off, the riding.  That pretty little Bay arab there is Boo, or Boojum, my first horse.  He was named after the fictitious character created by Lewis Carrol.  I got Boo when he was 4 months old, and he's now 12, and one of the best riding horses I have.  Sadly, he's also 14.3, which is TINY, so he always tends to end up on the back burner.  I have decided that I'm putting him up for sale, in my effort to reduce the number of horses I have.  So um, if y'all know a GREAT home that needs a totally amazing bomb proof horse, lemme know.  I'm not overly eager to sell him, but I would LOVE to see him get more attention.  It's only fair.

But, my "excitable" Arabain gelding there is the "goto" horse for me to get back into riding.  He's calm, predictable, and does everything.  Yeah, he rides English, and has been formally trained in low level dressage.  He rides Western, and neck reins, although I've never "taught" him to do that, he just picked it up from bombing around.  He does just about anything at all.....except walk through water.  Yes, that's Boo's problem, he's a priss.  So, when I had to choose a horse to ride, something small, and predictable was PERFECT for me.  My first reason to ride was that I needed a video.  Yeah, still working on editing that, but I did get a ton of footage.  But "needing" to ride is a lot better of a reason to MAKE myself get up then just "goofing off".

So, after that, I started working with Cayenne again.  Sorry, it's not a current picture, but you get the idea.  She's a little itty bitty thing, and my bottle baby.  Cayenne is just totally bomb proof, although she's not finished totally.  She has a nice Walk, Trot, Canter on her, but her trot to canter transition is rough, and she needs a lot of finesse on her.  Did I mention she's little?  Yeah, that's my 13.3 hand baby there.

So, we had a few good rides, a few not so good rides She's very fussy about her bit, and very light mouthed.  So light in fact that the other day she kept balking on me, until I realized it was the bounce of the reins at the trot on her 'new and pretty' bit.  Of course, this is the horse I usually ride in a bitless, or a halter.  I have even ridden her with a lead around her neck, but she wasn't exactly ready for that (i.e. SLOPPY).  But again, more rides on a nice sweet horse.

And then I had a couple of viewings.  I just got a deposit on Zire here.  He's going to head off and be a great and amazing barrel horse!  A friend of a friend is getting him, so he'll stay in the extended family!  Zire is a 3 year old ApHC Appaloosa, and not yet broke to ride, but we all have high hopes for his future!

I'm really happy with his home too.  I mean, his new owner is a wonderful calm and patient trainer, and she'll give him a good foundation under saddle, and make sure he LOVES what he's doing.  And since he's basically bred for chasing cans (ApHC race lines x ApHC cutting, reining, running lines) it's just a wonderful match.  At one time this little guy was going to be my next stallion...... until I inherited Quagga, and then discovered the SDHR.

So, with out jinxing myself (cross fingers) I have had some promising viewings of Nakai, the black Mustang we have here for a client.  I'm really hoping this works out for him.  The family are wonderful and willing to finish his training, and give him a chance to be a show horse!  What a great chance for him!

Normally I don't like to mention sales before the deal is done, but this is one I really hope comes through.  I can't imagine a more perfect home for Nakai.  He's just so sweet, loving, and nice moving of a horse, that he deserves to have so much more.  After my accident, well, I kinda suck at finishing the horses!  Right now I'm ok on the vertigo, but I get so anxious at the oddest times, and let me tell you, that is NOT how to train a green horse to ride.  I think Nakai will train up nice and easy, but I'm also not about to sell him to some one with out full disclosure of his problems.

So, his possible future trainer (if I understand right) is coming out to check out Nakai, and we'll see how that goes.  Y'all keep your fingers crossed for him!

And lastly, there is a VERY good chance that I am getting a new lesson horse!

She's a 16 hand (approx) draft mare (Shire, or Shire cross) who is just as sweet as can be and kid friendly.  She's been ridden quite a bit, and carried both small and larger riders.  While I thought I'd be looking for a gelding, those who know me know that I am a mare person!  I love the mares and their ways.  So this just thrills me to no end.

And no, from looking at her pictures, I don't think she'll make a great cross to O, but one never knows.... while her job is to be a packer, if she's built right, there is always the chance that she may be used in the SDHR revival.  Only time will tell on that point.  I just am giddy about her though.  Oh PLEASE let her be like I think she is, and not some crazy spooky man killer or something.

Oddly, I was checking on one of my ads on Craig's List, and saw her ad just above mine.  I figured I'd inquire, and get back a response that this mule looking horse (because there were no pics in the ad) had never been touched, and was a million years old, or something.  The response I got was anything but.  Broke, 12 years old, and gentle!  YAYAYAYAYAY *happy dance*

A larger horse is something I've been looking at for a while.  While I have Poko, well... we all know that he's ONLY an "advanced" rider's horse, and not a starter type.  So for all those horse husbands out there who have long legs, or are a bit bigger then my ancient packers can pack, this lady will be PERFECT!

But, there's one downside to her.  Her name.  It's not that I hate it..... it's that it's the same as my donkey's!  I can't have 2 Maggies here, so the new one will need a new name.  As soon as I know if she's staying, and how she acts, I will be sure to ask for advice on that.  Now watch, I just jinxed myself, and she'll know her own name.  GAH!

And lastly, I have a new riding student.  He is mature, male, and into horses.... and wants to learn how to keep a leg on either side!  After meeting him, I'm very impressed with him.  A complete gentleman, and a total horseman.  He asks good questions, and tries hard.  Our first lesson went really well, and I expect he's going to progress quickly.  I don't teach "show prep" or anything like that, but I do teach adults (since kids are like an alien species to me) how to be safe and stable on a horse.  I have talked to so many people who want to LEARN, but don't want to be pressured like you get in some of the big lesson barns, or show barns.  I offer a good starting place for people to get involved, get proper basics, and if they decide to, they can move up to a higher instructor later, or just finish with me, and trail ride with out fear of getting tossed.

And I can't tell you how happy I am that the vertigo is GONE!  I feel much more like ME again.  I do have some memory issues, but it's such little things.  Like I occasionally can't pull a  word out of my mind that I should know.  Pretty normal, but it's happening more then it ever has before.  I was warned (and rather a lot by the doctors) that some of this could last for up to 6 months.  As I'm not getting any younger, I kinda figure that a lot of it will just be with me for life.  I am trying to alter a few of my habits, like making notes more often, so that I can cope with the changes, but well... it's not a habit yet.  So for my friends and family, it's ok to remind me of things... I really DO forget a lot now.

And well, I'm out of shape, and have lost some of my "seat'.  But I'm letting myself slide on that for a bit... so no comments about how ugly I look in the saddle there... I really WAS all over the place, but I sure was trying!  But that's beside the point...

The fear issues.  Well, they are still here, but controllable.  As an example, when I was riding Boo the last time, some moron decided that peeling out was a GREAT idea.  He went up one street burning rubber (and wow does that stink) and then turned to drive past my arena.  My heart leapt into my throat, and I stepped off the horse.  Of COURSE the moron tries to peel out again, sees me in the arena and stops (least he's got that going for him, as he lives across the street from me) and drives away.  Boo was fine, and only twitched an ear.  Me..... Yeah, I had to walk a lap to "cool off".  My heart was pounding, and my knees were shaking.... and I wasn't even ON the horse!  Just thinking about Boo spooking and pulling me, or on top of me did that to me!

But, I'm learning to deal with that too.  I step off, I admit when I have the problem, and I calm myself as well as I can.  When I feel ok, then I step back on, and get back to it.  This means that my hour ride usually lasts a LOT longer, and my 30 minute rides are scheduled for an hour and a half.  I leave PLENTY of time for "freak outs" and just keep reminding myself how much I would hate it if I never rode again.  I'm not ashamed to admit my fear (in fact I think it's important to me, my horse, and my family that it's out in the open) but I refuse to let it STOP me.

On the flip side, it also means that my belief in what I can do is much lower.  I know that I freak out, so I simply don't have the confidence that I can truly finish a task.  Can I really break Diva?  How would I handle Scorch acting studly?  And what about those bad horses?  Can I really keep working with them, or am I just fooling myself?  I honestly don't have any of those answers, but I'm sure not about to quit trying.

And speaking of bad boys.....(sorry, this is the only picture I have of him right now) the P. Loco man himself!

Poko is being a good boy.  Yes, I know, it's shocking!  He managed to get himself caught the other day, and came up to the barn.  From there, he got isolated for a day, and decided that letting me catch him was a GOOD thing, and girls are out ranked by food.

After only a day and a half of being in a paddock alone, he was turning into a saint!  So I popped him out with his old buddies, Jaz and Daltrey (and Zire).  They are all doing well, and Poko is USUALLY willing to get caught.  Some days though, he makes me work for it (and I make him work back).  He's just about to get his little butt put into a saddle....

But here's the weird thing, he acts like he WANTS to be ridden.  Oh, he's not perfect... I mean, it's POKO!  He tries a bad thing here or there (just an hour ago, he tried to be pushy on the lead when walking into the barn) but they are little things.  Like nosing me, or drifting to where he thinks he wants to go, not where I want to go.  He's stood quietly when asked, and accepted his halter more then he's tried to run off.  He moves over for feeding, and just is being "good for Poko".  I have a crazy busy weekend ahead of me, but if all goes well, I'm riding this bad boy on Monday!  His behavior has been so nice since I took him away from the girls, that I didn't feel the need to make that boy sweat.

On the flip side, he made himself sweat.  He ran the fence line for 2 days straight when I put him with the boys.  His mares of course could care less, and wandered away from him to do their thing.  He would like us all to believe that his heart was broken.  HA!  More like his EGO.  =)  But he's fit, he's toned, and he's tanked!  If he stays sweet, then my ride on him should be a ton of fun.

And yes, I have the helmet ready because nothing is ever that easy.


  1. That's too bad about Boo. He has a lot of history with you and seems to have done good by you. It's always nice to have a 'steady-eddy' you can trust, to be able to just jump on for an enjoyable, no stress ride.
    Sounds like you've thought it out well, though and he'll be much appreciated at his new home. He sure is a handsome devil.
    That "non-donkey" Maggie is a big beautiful girl. If it works out with her, I would rename her Molly. That name just suits her. And even if she is used to her current name, Molly and Maggie sound a lot alike and she might not mind so much. :)
    Good for you being able to move past the fear and still do what you love. What I've discovered is that anytime a similar experience occurs that reminds you of your accident and injury, it's amazing how quickly the fears arise, followed by the previous accident and injury being replayed in your head, just like a movie, rewinding and playing over and over.

    For me, even thinking of or remembering my accident, causes that fear and panic reaction to replay in my head. I don't even need to be near a horse.

    Anyway, Poco looks funny in that photo. He seems kind of confused. Poor thing....dumped by the girls. Now he knows not to trust the mares and believe they are his loyal followers. Better to hang out with his boyfriends instead. lol!



  2. Man I wish we lived closer to each other... I am looking for a steady eddy for my mom & niece to ride.

    Hmmm, how about Margie for Maggie 2.

  3. Or Margot.

    Boo's prissiness with his feet runs in the family. As you know, Jaz is just like him in that regard.

    I'd still like to see us set up a real desensitizing scenario in the arena: tarps, water, "car wash", ladders, umbrellas, balloons, people jumping and shouting, etc.

    Poco was so funny when I was up last weekend. He was sucking up to me BIG TIME. I think at that moment, he was hoping just maybe I'd take him with me. Glad he's settling down. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but make sure you're feeling really good before you get on. His radar is super sensitive and you know he'll run with any weakness he finds.

    Looking forward to starting early this week. It's creeping up to triple digits.

  4. Almost forgot: remember, I bought us a big ball that is somewhere in the barn. It has a foot pump with it. We could also use that in our torture, er, I mean desensitizing.

  5. Glad the vertigo is gone and you're back to riding. I think the confidence will come back - it's just a matter of time for your nervous system to settle down. Love Maggie/Molly!

  6. Glad you're back to riding and almost normal.

    Boo would be perfect for my next "steady eddy" but alas - no more horses for me until I have my own land. When I'm ready though I may be traveling to find him/her. I want/need a rock solid horse that can pack my kids\husband as well as "Level up" to me. Rosie is that but her size intimidates my son who loves to ride so he won't even try.