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 29, 2011

Fear Friday: Take a Break!

No, I don't mean I'm taking a break, but rather sometimes when we're trying so hard to achieve something, we try TOO hard.  Stop, smell the roses, and enjoy the journey.

Dealing with fear issues usually means that we have to tackle big things, overcome terrifying obstacles, and do things that we might not want to do... right?  Yeah, no.  Think of it more like a vacation.  Just because yesterday you went bungee jumping (which I for one would never do!) doesn't mean that you need to sky dive today.  I think it's better to mix it all up a bit.  Do things that you are comfortable with for the most part, and then challenge yourself if and only if you think you can succeed that day.

Look at how we train our horses.  We expose them to new and scary things, and then we give them a break.  We don't ask our horses to master challenge after challenge, so why do we ask that of ourselves?

When we train our horses we usually have a goal.  Look at starting a horse under saddle:  I ask the horse to accept my weight.  When the horse can do that with out fear, I praise the horse, and stop the lesson.  The next day, I ask the horse to accept my weight again, until it's no big deal.  From there I MAY add one more thing to the list, or I may not.  I may go from laying over the horse to ground driving (something the horse should know by that point in my training program).  A step forward is rewarded with a step back, and a release of pressure... and that includes mental pressure!

 I think that I often focus too much on what I can't, or haven't yet done, and forget to take pride in what I am doing now.  Even if it's just picking a horse's feet, or feeling good enough to hug a horse from the saddle, it's still horsemanship!

Think back to when you first got into horses.  Your very first ride wasn't nearly as easy as you thought it would be, and yet you were so proud of yourself.  Most of us never got out of a walk.  We were lucky if the horse turned and stopped when we wanted, but by golly, we RODE a horse!  And probably you told every friend you knew about it, and how good you did.  You didn't worry that you hadn't cantered.  You didn't feel bad because you weren't able to do advanced things.  You were simply happy that you did something, ANYTHING, with a horse!

I think that love, that awe, and that amazement is what we've lost when we are so befuddled by fear.  Taking some time to regain that awe, even if it means you do nothing more then have a picnic in the pasture, really does something good for the soul.  I've always told people to spend time with their horses in any way that they can, and like, to help build a bond and ease tensions.  Now, I'm having to take my own advice.

I spent the afternoon recently getting a tan (because I look REALLY stupid with bronze arms and shoulders, and ivory legs).  My "cool tub" (a hot tub with the heat turned off) is in the geldings pen at this time.  Yeah, I'm redoing fencing, and while it's in a place that the horses rarely come to, they CAN come right up to it.  So while I'm soaking and tanning (tan, burn, what's the difference, right?) Poko came up to see what I was doing.  This was followed by Jaz and his pale shadow, Daltrey.  Then Doodles arrived with Boo.  Ozzy and Diesel stood further away looking at us all like, "ok, so what's the big deal, she's not handing out cookies or anything".

It was one of the happiest, and most relaxing days I've had in a while.  Want to know why?  Because I had no expectations.  Nothing but pure enjoyment of time with the boys.

But there's something about doing everyday things, and having your horse (or someone else's as the case may be) come up and just want to hang out with you.  I wasn't asking anything of them, they weren't my student or my subject that day.  They were just my friends.  From tasting my hair to sniffing the water, and the baffled look on Daltrey's face because I CHOSE to climb in that weird thing... it just brought back the love of horses to me.  Not that I've lost it, but sometimes it's all about the little things.

Think about it for a second.  Has habit overcome desire?  Do you push yourself harder then you'd ever push your horse?  Harder then you'd push a friend?  Have you become like me, and gotten so worried about the results that you forgot why you got into horses in the first place?

Or do you remember to stop and smell the roses, because the love of horses is more about the journey then the tasks we've done.  It's about the feel of it all, the emotions. Our passion for horses is rarely based in common sense.  Rather it's the highs, and even the lows, with our horses that we remember and treasure the most.

Do you take the time for the simple and maybe silly things that you always dreamed of as a girl (or boy)?  When was the last time you dressed your horse up in glitter?  Braided it's mane?  Took pictures of the herd cantering at full speed?

For me, it's the feel of their velvet muzzles that gets me.  Whether that's a hand on their nose, or giving Phoenix a kiss, I just can't get enough of it.  The smell of leather and horse, the soft feel of their hair, and gentleness of so large of an animal.... It's the little things that keep me coming back to horses, and make me want to over come my fears.


  1. I would have to say that this is my favorite blog post that you have ever done. I can so easily read the emotion that you put into it, and what you feel on the subject so clearly. Reading this made me miss all the things that I loved about horses when I lived in Florida; such as looking into a horses eyes and knowing they feel your pain, touching their soft noses, or even getting a little swat from their tails. I miss it all, but reading your post made me remember why I miss those things. So many people seem to think that horses are just for riding, but my favorite thing about being with the horses wasn't riding them, but was just being with them and being content in their presense and knowing that they feel the same way as I did. I miss being with the horses so much, and now I wish more than ever that I had the access to be with horses here in Canada as I did in Florida. So, thank you for this post.

  2. I thought you meant take a break from work to read your blog, so I did.

    My fears lie in the arena, and as it is summer, I have been riding on the trail. I know it seems backwards, as most people are less fearful when they are in an enclosed area, but that is wher my skills li.

    As I am mostly riding in the park, right now, when I have gone into the arena, I find that most of my fears have evaporated! It used to look so big, and now, it seems so small. Taking a break really worked for me.

  3. You are so right. I have let my fear keep me from the simple things. I have no problem on the ground, it's in the saddle, yet, I have punished myself for that fear by taking away what I do love. The smell, the touch, the feel of a horse are what I fell in love with. The riding was an afterthought. I used to dream of riding, I did, it didn't work so I stopped doing...period.

    I think I shall try to begin again.

  4. I agree. I take so much joy in just being around them. I miss them to much now that they are boarded (Jaz and Daltrey that she wrote about are mine, and Poko used to be). I enjoy even the most mundane of tasks with them. On Wednesday, I drove up there after work to spend less than 20 minutes hosing Daltrey down, smooching on Jaz and Pokey. I like riding, but I just like being with them. I sure hope we get some rain so they can come back here for awhile in the fall.

  5. You have some beautiful horses then. And you can have a bit of our rain lol