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.

Monday, July 25, 2011

To My Dad

Yesterday was my father's birthday.  He's 39 again this year.  We shipped him off from the hot oppressive ranch life to spend the weekend being spoiled and pampered with my brother.  Did I mention that my brother has a pool?  Yeah, here's hoping that dad had a great time.

My parents are an important part of Iron Ridge Sport Horses.  My mom gives many of our lessons, and my father puts up with us.  No, in all seriousness Dad is one of the main reasons why this place exists.

Back when I was a child, I loved horses but lived in town.  I spent my days with a herd of Breyer horses, reading every horsey book I could get my hands on, and doing anything possible to be around horses in any way.  My parents weren't horse people, and didn't really know all that much about them, except that every other word their youngest child said was "horse".

So, to help fulfill the urge, my dad would take me to the local riding stable.  Nothing but nose to tail horse riding, for a few bucks each hour, but it was a horse!  I would save up my money all week long, and then Sunday mornings I would get in for the first ride.  No one ever booked for the first ride on Sunday mornings, so it would be me and the "wrangler".  Every weekend, like clock work, I would go.

And my darling dad would be the one to take me.  He'd get up, make a really big coffee, and drive me across town.  Then for that hour, he would sit around and wait.  I became a fixture at that place.  Over the years, I had my "own" horses.  First it was Vinny, a big brown App, and then it was Java, a cute little mustang mare that hated adults.  There were others, but those were the closest thing I had to a horse of my own.  And the college students working there learned pretty fast that I actually LIKED horses.  They taught me how to hold a lead rope, how to safely tie a horse, and I got many pointers on how to ride better.

The whole time I was learning all this, my father was the unsung hero, sitting in the car. 

The first time I fell off a horse, the poor wranglers offered to walk me back.  I looked at them as if they were crazy, and asked if my horse was lame.  When they said no, but thought that I might have been too scared to get back on, I just asked for a leg  up.  I was 7, and Vinny was 16.1 hands.  It was a simple spook and slide (and I did the sliding) and I couldn't understand why i would miss over half an hour of riding time just because I had some dirt on me.  When we got back to the barn, they told my father about it, and he looked at me and said "so, you ok?"  I was like "uh yeah.... I just slid off, it's not like it was a big deal".  Dad nodded, knowing then that I was an addict.  He kept bringing me out until the stable closed many years later.

When I got my first horse, he was thrilled for me.  Shortly after, I talked him into buying mom a horse (he wasn't as happy about that, but he went with it).  Then I bought my second horse, Ash.  Something happened then, and no one really understands it.  Ash was an evil horrible nasty tempered mare.  Dad loved her.  Even more amazing, she loved him too!  Dad started riding Ash, and she would baby sit him, allowing him to get his balance, and figure out how to steer.  She would go from a complete packer, to a hot blooded jumper in seconds, but she did her best to make sure dad never fell off.  Oh he did a time or 2, but Ash tried hard.  And at some point, my father decides that horses weren't so bad.

He got his own horse after that.  Doodles.  Dad worked hard to train that horse with the help of myself and my ex husband.  When it came time to ride him, Dad was up there on his back.  Over hill, over dale, up the street and down the pasture they rode.  While dad was never a horse lover, he always loved HIS horse.  Well, his horses... he never would let me pay off the last $5 for Ash, and demanded that she was registered in both of our names.  He said it was so that I couldn't sell her with out his permission.

In 2005 my father decided to invest in Iron Ridge.  He put down the money for our first stallion.  He helped us buy the land we're on now, and while he's not so thrilled about the joys of horse farming (mucking stalls is just not his thing) he really does love to have the horses around.  There's nothing like looking out over your back yard, and seeing a herd of pretty ponies.  Dad never really says it, but I know he has his favorites.

I never really blog about my father, because he's not the type to be out in the sun working horses.  He's not really into the whole manual labor and poop thing, but he is the first person to offer to help feed when some one is down.  He gladly will sit and watch us ride around the arena for hours, just so that we have eyes on us, in case of an accident, and he celebrates with us when a horse finds a great home.  Most of my father's work with the business though is the behind the scenes stuff.  He still invests money when it's needed, whether that's torch fuel or tractor parts, he's there for me.  He helps with reference checks, and the other boring paper work, and so often does the unsung jobs.  Things that need doing, but no one wants to do.  I can't even count the miles of fences that dad has painted!

And he knows his place!  Ash still has him wrapped around her little hoof!  Man that mare has him trained so well.

So Happy Birthday Daddy!  I hope you have a good one, and many more to follow. 


  1. Cheers & Happy Birthday to your dad!

  2. Happy Birthday to a wonderful man.

  3. Happy birthday, Mr. Harmon. Please don't hurt yourself.

  4. Laughing Orca RanchJuly 25, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    Awww! I love your Dad, too! You're so blessed have such a special Dad, who takes such good care of your and fosters your dreams.
    Sadly, my Dad has always been much too selfish and has never been very supportive of me or my dreams or those of my family. He won't even come up to the barn to see my animals when he has visited. He might get dirt on his feet or a stain on his shirt. bah!
    Animals are a good judge of character and it sounds like Ash knows what a good man he is.
    Your Dad is one in a million and I hope you tell him that, for me.

    Happy Birthday wishes!

  5. Happy Birthday to your dad. Great post.

  6. Happy Birthday to your dad. What a wonderful tribute to the guy who has stood behind you and helped you along the way! That's just what the perfect dad is supposed to do!