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, July 22, 2011

Fear Friday: Progress

It's not just about admitting our fears, but it's also about overcoming them.  Lately, I have been on what feels like a fast track for that.

A simple picture of a horse eye, right?  But look at the reflection. That's me, sitting on the mounting block, right at Boo's feet.  Between Boo and the fence, close enough to reach out and touch him.  And I wasn't bothered at all.  That, my friends, is a big step for me.

Other big things I have done lately:  Canter work, and quite a bit of it.  Working with horse feet - we do trims on a few horses in between farrier visits. It's really more like filing, but there's some trimming involved too.  With the stupidly dry conditions, my horses feet are cracking, chipping, and such, so rather then just let them go, we always try to clean them up.  Jae also does trims on many of the "easy" horses.  More easy footed then easy to handle, but I've been helping with that as well.  Not a hint of fear with them.  No visions of hooves in my teeth at all.

The one thing that seems to still just send my heart into my throat though, is watching other people.  When Amy leans over a horse for the first time, I have to sit there and tell myself to breathe.  When Chris takes Poko around the arena at the canter, I have to remind myself that our training on him is really working, and it will be fine (Poko likes to bolt for the gate).  Things like that seem to be what get to me.  Which is kinda odd, because it's not MY risk that is the basis of my fear this week.... or so it seems.  But my fear of the risk to others.

What a weird phase of my progress, wouldn't you say?

But progress it is!  And we should celebrate the little steps we take.  Look at all of you who have gone out and gotten on your horse, or picked a hoof, or done one of those things that scares the hell out of you!  If you're like me, you did it, and then want to scream to the world that you overcame your fears for that moment, but it's almost embarrassing, and you feel like no one will get why you're so excited.

But we will!

No matter how small, how silly, or how many times you've done it before, have you made some progress in your fears that you are proud of?   How did you convince yourself to try it?  Was your heart in your throat the whole time, or did it just happen, leaving you saying "Oh wow!" when it was done?  I know there are a few of you who have been making leaps and bounds away from your fears, and I think it's time that every one gets a bit of bragging space!


  1. Laughing Orca RanchJuly 22, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    Oh yay! You are so inspirational reading about how you're conquering and moving past your fears and forward into a new and different phase each week. It is really helpful and encouraging for me to share that with you.

    As you know I have also been making HUGE strides forward, past and through my fears. Sharing them here openly and honestly was a huge step for me, helping me to face those fears, by placing them on your "table" and dissecting them while knowing, most importantly, that I wasn't alone. Not being embarrassed to share my fears was the big catalyst for me.
    And like you said: "If you're like me, you did it, and then want to scream to the world that you overcame your fears for that moment, but it's almost embarrassing, and you feel like no one will get why you're so excited."

    lol! That has SO been me these past couple weeks. It's as if I'm a child learning new skills and wanting to share them with others, who for the most part are very encouraging, but also probably think I'm a little weird. lol! Just imagine me telling a friend that I brushed my horse's tail....(picture her face with eyebrows raised with a peculiar smile on her face: "uh, yah, You finally brushed your horse's tail for the first time in a year....yah, you go girl" lol!
    But it really was a huge step for me, and I just had to share it. lol!

    And last Saturday was the first time I had picked out both back feet of my mare...in yes...a year! And I walked behind her, with my hand on her rump....over, and over and over again.
    What probably made those two steps possible is that I knew I was responsible for the care my mare in preparation for that ride, and I needed to buck-up and attend to her needs. I wasn't going to ask her to carry me for 7+ miles without first making sure her hooves were free from stones and debris.
    Also she had soiled her tail in the trailer, on the drive over, so I had to rinse and brush out her tail. I couldn't just ride out on a filthy horse. That would only show me as being neglectful.
    And as for walking behind my mare, it was between laziness and necessity because I had to keep up adjusting her tack from either side and I think it's probably safer going behind a horse than trying to duck under her lead rope while she's tied to the trailer and trying to eat.

    Taking my horse to that competitive trail ride and riding 7+ miles, after having been out of the saddle for most of a year, was probably a little too ambitious, but it ended up being such a positive experience and was a big step forward in helping my mare and I build trust in one another again.

    We have another group lesson tomorrow and after last Saturday's ACTHA ride, I now am aware of some new things we can work on together to become a better team out on the trails.


  2. For me, the first thing I had to recover from was Dawn kicking me in jaw when I was picking her back feet - she actually double-barrelled me and got me in the arm too but I didn't even notice that until later. I had a mild concussion, lots of lacerations to my tongue and some damaged teeth. But, what was I thinking? I had her ground tied because I was in a hurry - another boarder was trying to get her horse turned out - and she decided to sniff noses with another horse . . . She's normally quite good with her feet, lifting each one up in turn as you walk around her. I had to ease back up on it slowly, and having to work with Drift on his tendency to cow kick has brought some of it back up. But I've learned to make sure I don't rush - rushing leads to operator error! I've learned that I can do it, if I pay attention, train my horses thoroughly to make sure hoof handling is routine and make sure I take care to keep myself observant and hence safe - if I'm distracted I shouldn't be doing it - that applies to most things but particularly to horses.

    Now I'm coping with getting back to riding after my accident. Pie carted me around the ring at a walk quite nicely - after 5 weeks off! - but my balance and strength weren't quite there so it made me nervous. The enforced time off due to the heat wave has allowed me to regain strength and I think when I start riding again it won't be too worrisome - Dawn and Drift are more challenging rides than Pie but I think they'll be OK when I start riding them again. I am now a bit worried about riding alone on the trail after my fall and have asked a fellow boarder to go with Pie and me the first couple of times to be sure we're OK. This is the first time I've dealt with disability/aging issues and I must say it's a bummer. I want to be like that lady in her 90s who finally died after a fall from her horse!

  3. I just read an article about how modern, safer playground equipment is too safe. It brought back to my mind the jungle gym in the school playground when I was growing up. it was a circle, and it had 4 levels of bars that circled around it. At the top, it had a pole that you could slide down to the bottom. I distinctly remember circling and circling the bottom rung until I got brave enough to go up to the next level. I then circled that until I could go up higher. I don’t know if this took days or weeks, but I remember once I got to the top and slid down the pole a few times, I never worried about any of the levels—I just played and had fun.

    When I read the article, it actually explained that this is how kids learn to deal with risks and dangers. My behavior at the time was totally normal.

    I have recently made it to the top level and slid down the pole a few times on my new horse, Cole. I am getting to the point of wondering why I ever had any fear at all—and just playing. It is like being released, and it is an exhilarating feeling—but I think in just a few more weeks, the feeling will be gone, and just riding and having fun will be as normal as it is with my older horse, Cruiser. After all, I have been in this place when I was back on the playground, after I got my first horse, after I got Cruiser, never with my horse Mingo, but he was special, after I had my horses fall with me riding them 4 times in unrelated incidents in a short period of time and I was afraid to canter, when I first started to learn to drive a car, going to college, starting each of my jobs…I am sure I could make this list much longer, but I don’t want to bore anyone.

    Anyway, after reading that article, it makes me think that maybe all of this is normal!

    What do you think?