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.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's called catching up

I'm getting back into the swing of things, thanks to a little help from my friends.

If fact, I'm starting to run out of "down time" to keep my website updated, post here on the blog, and read a good book.  Not that I really mind much, because I'm enjoying getting the horses worked.  Nita has taken over some of the riding lessons, mainly the trot work, which she teaches better then I do.  Jae and I are up at the crack of dawn, and out feeding/cleaning stalls/repairing fences, and other assorted farm work, and around 9am, I try to be in the saddle (if there isn't a lesson in the arena).

It's been in the 100 degree range, usually around 103/104 (For my Canadian Friends, that's about 39/40), so we have to be a bit careful about who and what we do mid day.  Gator-aid is my best friend it seems, and my salt intake is through the roof.  Oddly, I really don't like salt except in the summer.

Rachel has been helping me with my western stuff.  From giving Nita a lesson in neck reining, to answering my many pestering questions, she's been a saint.  She also jumps in to help with cleaning up and prepping for photo shoots.  We got Phoenix (above) all nice and "shiny" for her pictures.  No mud stands on that grey baby!

Amy has been taking the pressure of my fragile ego, by climbing up on the greenies.  She's also exercising the lesson horses back into shape - which gives her the chance to get some of her own practice and learning.  Currently we're going through about 5 to 8 horses each day, depending upon the time and heat index.  So rather then bore you with words, here's a visual record of my last few days:

 Boo, my Arabian gelding showing Amy how to use spurs properly.  He's lazy, and patient, so won't fly out of control if she has an accidental touch with the spurs, but will let her know (very obviously) when she's touching him.  This was her first time to sit a horse with spurs on, and she did great!  She only touched with them when she meant to, and only with a nice light pressure. 

Rachel and Phoenix.  We not only got her clean, but standing decently enough to get pictures worthy of her listing on my sales list.  Yeah, she's for sale... but only because I am keeping her older (carbon copy) sister. 

Diesel (AKA Stevie).  This gelding stands 16.2 hands, and is well trained in dressage.  He's one of my more advanced lesson horses.  He's a hard keeper, and a weaver, but worth his weight in gold.  Unfortunately, most of my students are too novice to handle him yet (he's a LOT of horse) and he tends to need a lot of conditioning work to get him in any semblance of shape.  Yes, he's an OTTB.

Doodles, another of my lesson horses.  This guy has ulcers pretty seriously, so will never be shown, but he loves giving lessons.  Most horses get stressed at a rider that doesn't know what they are doing, but all Doodles wants is to stay home, and get told he's a good boy.  We have a treatment program that's working for him now, and Amy is bringing him back into riding shape.  He's been off work since this winter.

And Ishka.  She's my mother's "replacement" for her first horse.  Ok, so she's also a daughter of that first horse.  Ishka is 5, and Nita has done almost all of her training herself, except this one thing.... the canter.  Nita tried, but even the thought of asking a green horse to canter for the first time set off her fear issues.  When my mom got nervous, Ishka did exactly as we wanted, and refused to go faster.  She's a good girl, and will be in the lesson program one day.  So, Amy offered to be the one to ask.  Her first few steps, Ishka tried to throw her rider into the canter, and got way more "up" then she needed, but settled into it pretty quickly.  Not bad at all, I think.

And Sweetie.  She is a 3 year old, very gangly Sugarbush Draft filly.  Sweetie is the last horse bred by Everett Smith, and MINE... all MINE!  But seriously, we've just started her training.  This was her 5th lesson ever, and she has informed us that she's going to break all the rules. 

We began with lunging, and then ended with standing on a mounting block over her to see how she would handle the "human above me" issues.  Well... she loved it.  She thought that was the best part EVER, and that it was the best praise we could ever give her.  So, naturally, one thing lead to another, and we just started laying on her and loving on her at the end of each ground work session.  Sweetie thinks that the human on her back is a massage, and makes stupid faces.  So yesterday, on her 5th lesson, we added tack.  You can see how that went!

Our plan is to keep sitting and taking a few steps with her at the end of each lesson, while we teach her to go in proper circles, learn her verbal commands, and to drive off the bit.  If she loves it this much, why deny her?  (and notice the happy and relaxed look on her face when Amy's leaning on her?)

And of course, there is much fin, laughing, and a few lessons in the middle of all this.  There's Nita giving a lesson to one of Amy's friends, while Amy exercises Doodles.  With the heat we're not able to work all day, but we are getting as much done as possible.  Best of all, I am feeling good about riding again!  I'm not all the way back yet, but I'm doing walk/trot/canter on all of the broke horses, eagerly doing the ground work with the babies (3 year olds) and even thinking about doing some walk work with the greenies!  Amy and Rachel have been huge helps, as well as every one else (Kris, Sarah, Leah... y'all know who you are!).

I'm just happy to be catching up!


  1. And I've been complaining about our heat . . . Sounds like you're really getting back into the swing of things - and some nice pics!

  2. Congrats on getting back into things as quickly as you are. I just have to say that I love reading your blog, and your horses are all beautiful. Ever since I moved to Canada I have been unable to get my horse fix like I used to, having worked at a stable from the age of 9 to 17, and your blog keeps me sane. I just only wish that I had the money to buy one of your lovely horses which you have for sale, and I'm really intrigued with the Sugarbush horses now. I've always loved the build of the drafts, but now that you have added in the color and temperment of the appy's, I'm in love. Keep up the good work, and I will keep my eye out for your next post.

  3. Looks like you are accomplishing lots! and 40C???? That is to hot for this girl!

  4. Wow! I am the one who needs lessons here.

  5. Thanks Rebekka! You made my (very hot and tired) day! Thank you tons.

    And would you believe that these horses have been around for 50 years, and almost no one knew about them? I stumbled upon them and was stunned. Oddly enough, I'm not really a big color person (my favourite color horse in the world is the bay arab up there) but I loved Appies because of their minds and abilities, and always loved the drafts. Yet I didn't want to have an 18hh horse to work with (let alone buy trailers/barns/etc for) so I wanted a nice "small" draft in the 16h - 16.2 range. Lo and behold, I was informed of the Sugarbush, and love them! Sweetie is my own SDHR horse, bought from Everett, and I have big plans for her future!

  6. Huh, that's pretty much what Jae says too. The first time I told him it gets to be around 40 here in the summer, he thought I was exaggerating. Now he knows better.

    He's from Ontario, but oddly enough, he tells me that our temps aren't nearly as bad as y'all's. That whole "it's a dry heat" thing... it really is true! I'll take my 100+ over a humid 85 ANY day. My best way to explain it, is that it's like sitting in front of a comfy fire, where humid heat is more like being boiled alive! =)

  7. I tormented Daltrey yesterday afternoon, and of course, he was perfect. Too dang hot to back a horse.

  8. Yeah, she is a pretty little thing, your arab. I have a thing for duns and roans myself, and I just have a thing for thick built horses. And if only I lived closer to you!