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, July 5, 2011

An Average Day

As many of you know, Iron Ridge Sport Horses is a working farm.  I don't work to have my farm, I work at my farm.  Easier said then done, really.

We're a family owned business, with my parents (Jim and Nita) as well as my fiancee Jae and myself putting our time and effort into making a living doing what we love.... horses.  We have no other "hired" employees, but we do have friends of the farm who have become almost family (horsey family!) to us.

We are not a big fancy show barn (oh how I wish!) but rather we're a normal everyday type of place.  We have a barn, outdoor arena and round pen, and 32 acres.  Currently we have 35 horses on property (includes my horses, my parent's horses, and client horses).  I often have people make comments to me that what I do is "not work".  Well.... I beg to differ!  It's a lot of work, it's just that my work is really fun, really rewarding, and I have the best job in the world... usually.

So, I thought I'd give a lay out of one of my days for you.  This is what an average day is like for me:

6:30am - alarm goes off.  Hit snooze at least once.
6:40am - one of the dogs has to go out NOW, tell Jae to get up, and make coffee while he's at it
7:00am - ok ok, I'm out of bed.  Can't really say I'm awake though.  Start checking email.
8:00am - not done replying to inquiries yet, but time to get to the barn.  The temperature is already rising.
*********Feed Horses and drink coffee from 8am to 9am*********
9:00am - Turn out horses, bring in horses that get sunburns, start cleaning stalls if there's any time left
10:00am - Amy shows up to ride horses.  discuss an idea of what we're going to get done that day.
10:30am - lunge horse, prepare for backing (stand over, etc)
11:00 am - ride horse (groom, tack up, ride, tack down, hose off, turn out)
12:00pm - water break!
12:15pm - work next horse/water break
1:30 pm - Yet another horse/water break
2:30 pm - still more horses to work?  Yeah
3:30 pm - decide if it's too hot to ride, or if we have yet another horse
4:30 pm - tell Amy to go home, head inside to find air conditioning!  Usually there's a cool shower.
5:00pm - it's amazing how you are never hungry when hot, so it's finally lunch time
6:00pm - check email, facebook, blog, texts, and return all the conversations I ignored while outside
8:00pm - Head out to finish cleaning stalls, and start bringing in horses for evening feeding
9:30pm - feed horses, water everything
10:00pm - start dinner
11:30 pm - Why is it that I can never eat at a decent hour?

12:00am - open a good book, and sit down to relax
1:00am - remember all the things I didn't get done, apologize to Jae that I never really spend much time with him, and pass out.
6:30am - hit snooze on alarm

Now keep in mind that the pace of my work is a lot slower then most "real" jobs.  I don't have any one pushing me to do more (except me) and I don't have a grumpy boss to answer to when I need a mental health day.  On the flip side, if I am being lazy then I am the one that doesn't get paid.  It's the joys of being a business owner, and in an industry where there is so little profit margin.  Believe it or not, you can make money in horses, but it's not EASY to do it.  You have to really love what you do, and live to do it.

If it wasn't for Jae, I don't know how I would stay sane.  I never seem to have time to do laundry, I'm usually feeling too lazy to really cook (and well, I can't cook!) and then there are all the things he keeps working for me.  Bridles, gates, trucks, food.... Jae does it all, and does it well.  My mother is there to lend a hand and much of the time she's cleaning stalls.  Other days, she's giving lessons to new riders (she teaches the trot MUCH better then I do) and she's always willing to hike out and grab a horse for me.

I have a few barn buds that offer to help with the riding, since I've been having my little confidence issues.  Rachel is working with many of my horses on neck reining (she got Poko doing it!) and Amy is just brave and willing to hop on just about anything.  Leah, Kris, Chris, and Sarah all make sure that I can remember that horses are not just work, but also fun.

I guess my point is that a lot of people think this is a great job to have, but never realize that it's more then a job, it's a life.  I can't tell you how many times I have had to say no to something fun, because I have to work.  I often schedule things on my day off, just because I really LIKE my job (days off are for laundry don't you know, and horses are way better then laundry!).  There are times when I realize how many hours I put into this, and how crazy I must be, but I wouldn't change it for the world.  Most men wouldn't tolerate their wife having a job that kept her at work for 18 hours per day, six days each week, but Jae loves our life as much as I do (and the ponies that go with it).

And really...... I play with horses all day, how bad can it be?


  1. Who says what you do isn't work? Invite them for a day. Heck, just the times I feed and water wears me out in the heat.

  2. Just prepping the horses for riding wears me out. lol. It reminds me of the days when I went to school. In the summer months I'd be at the barn around 730AM and stay til dusk about 8PM. Where does the time go??

  3. I usually hear the "you don't work" comments phrased as "yeah, but you ride horses all day, it's not like that's really WORK". Or the other version "Why do you need a day off, I mean, you just work with horses all day!" I think it's because my job doesn't suck (and really, how many people can say that?). I also have had a few people mention to me (emails, FB, etc) that they "always wanted to do this" - basically make horses their job, and I just want to make sure those people have an idea of what it takes before they are too far in. Granted, it's not this busy in the winter time, and my hours are very seasonal, but I still often wonder how I will keep up with this in 20 years. It's not like I'm getting any younger!