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.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ever have one of those weeks where you're getting stuff done?

Well, that is exactly what's been going on around here!  I've managed to do a few updates to the website, including a much nicer menu (at least I think so).  I changed the images around to better reflect the season, updated the sales page to be a little more user friendly, and a bit less cramped, added some more information about all the things we do....

Oh, and I've been doing pictures and videos out the wazoo!  For those who know Quagga, that's him with his new person.  When my mentor Sig (Sigrid Ricco, RIP) owned Quagga, he was a lady's horse to the end.  On her death, I "inherited" him, and he decided that Jae is his new person.  He has Jae very well trained, and always tends to show better, and behave better for Jae.  Don't get me wrong, he loves just about any one with a scratch or a cookie, but Jae is special for him.

So, when I did all that webpage stuff, I realized how many horses I still need to update.  Never mind that I only have 5 horses officially for sale (I always have a few others that I'll sell into the PERFECT home) but that I need to update pictures and videos of most of those horses, AND I don't have enough information out there about my breeding herd.  Oh my.

So, I managed to get the sales page finished up this week.  Every one has at least one video now, mostly current pictures (I need to upload some more at the time of posting this) and overall I'm pretty happy with the results.  So, my next project is the stallions' page.  I whipped that up when I first did my site, and haven't really touched it since.

I need to get a page for each of the boys, with more information, more pictures, a video, and some examples of their foals (where applicable.  Scorch doesn't have any on the ground yet).  My plan is to get that done next week.  So wish me luck, and expect a lot of eye candy to be coming through the blog.

Once the boys are done, I'm on to the lesson horse page.  Every one wants to see what you have out there for them to ride, right?  And my lesson horses deserve the credit they work for.  From Keeley through Diesel, we have horses of all levels and sizes, and I want to make sure that clients can see what's offered, as well as have a link to use when bragging to their friends (doesn't every rider want to brag about the horse they ride... or is that just me?).

And a brood mares page!  I have this absolutely amazing herd of broodies that are just stunning to look at.  The legs, the necks, the spots!  Ok, truth be told, I have a few reasons to put up my brood mares.  First, those looking to buy young stock often want to see the parents.  Second, I want to get a jump on my advertising of those mares, because most of the Appies will be up for sale next year (I'm getting out of apps and into Sugarbush almost exclusively).  And third, there's a chance that I will be offering foal sales in utero.  I haven't completely decided on that or not yet, but if I have the pages set up, it makes it a more viable option.

Now that probably sounds like pretty good thinking to most people, right?  But it sure doesn't sound like as much work as it is!  First, I'm anything BUT a web designer.  Yeah, I designed the look of my site, but coding it?  HA!  That's been fun.  Good thing for me, that Jae IS a web designer.  BAD thing for me, that he feels it is important for me to have a basic understanding of what I'm doing.

And pictures sound so easy.  You just press a button and POOF, digital image!  Except for the whole part about GOOD pictures.  That means washing the horse first, then triming the ears, fetlocks, mane, tail, scrubbing the hooves, filing off the edges (because unless it's farrier day, there's a rough edge SOMEwhere).  It's summer in Texas, so ever horse here is bleached out.  That means color enhancing shampoo.... which means stained hands, and a 10 minute wait.  And once the horse is actually clean and presentable, well... then there's the trial to get a GOOD image. 

I know I've mentioned this before, but it can never be said enough.  In order to get 5 good pictures, I take around 300 images.  I crop, I tweak, and I cry at how close so many of them are to exactly what I want.  Perfect stance but the horse closed its eyes.  Lovely movement, but its ears are back making it look mean.  For personal use, those things don't matter, but how many of you would bother going to meet a horse with ears pinned in all of the pictures?

And lets not even talk about what a bad set up can do to a horse!  Yep, this is the same filly as the bay above.  The difference?  A cloud, and a few seconds of time.  She was standing pretty, then decided to lean into a step.  Yep, filly above is pretty, but THIS nag wouldn't get $500 bucks off Craig's List!

Of course, some of my horses are more photogenic then others.  Look at the eye candy the other day.  Scorch is a total camera hog!  Seems that Quagga, one of my other stallions, is the same way.  Phoenix loves the camera, but Tori - the bay here - not so much.  Ishka, my mom's younger horse took 100 pictures to get a single decent image.

But, a good photo shoot makes it so worth it!  I mean look at this boy!

Although, I don't want to talk about the work Rachel and I put into making a mud brown horse into a white one!  He was half caked in very gross things, and we scrubbed and rinsed, and pulled out all the white tricks I knew to get him even something like white.  Ironically, he looks more white in the pictures then he did in person.  His mane and tell are still just a touch orange from the local dirt.

I also managed to get a couple of videos done.  I actually like making videos, even though I'm not all that good about it.  Tori's video was pretty easy.  She was a simple cut, paste, add music type of thing.  I had good long clips of her moving, I had good lighting and the filly stayed where I could actually get a video of her (you know, in front of me!).

So then I started working on Phoenix's video.  Ok, truth be told I started on it first, but didn't like it, so took a break.  I went back to it after a day, removed 90% of my work, and decided that I didn't care if I could see people in the shots.  I ended up with this:

All in all, I'm pleased with it.  Granted, I don't expect to sell these horses until they are started under saddle, as the market's pretty tough in a drought striken area, but at least I'm keeping up with it all.

What I am thrilled about though, are the pictures of Quagga, and how AMAZING they turned out.  He is a hard horse to make pretty, simply because he IS white.  Lighting is horrible with him.  Stains are a constant problem.  And yet he's such a wonderful horse, just put together like a dream, that it seems so wrong to publish images of him that show him as less then perfect.   I guess this is a lot of my problem with keeping up with my webpage.  I hate sending out pictures of the horses that just don't do them justice.

So.  Sales horses - DONE.  Stallion images 2/3rds done.  Stallion videos - well, I got the filming done for Quagga, but need to edit it, and find that boy a song!  (I'm hoping to use A Whiter Shade of Pale).  Next week...... more eye candy!


  1. When I look at Daltrey, sure, I see certain characteristics of O, but I sure do see a lot of Quagga. The shape of his head, neck, that lovely caboose — Arden, that is, Quagga. The barrel and legs, and definitely the personality are more O.

    Missed seeing you yesterday.

  2. I found the music distracting in the videos. I had to mute it. (no offense) I just figured you might want an un biased opinion.

  3. Thanks. Always love unbiased opinions. What was it that made the music distracting? Not your personal genre? Too Loud? Too....???? I try to find music that fits the horse's rhythm, with out being offensive (do you have ANY idea how hard that is? Most things are offensive to SOMEone). So just curious what it was about it that got you.

    Thanks though!

  4. FernvalleyappaloossasAugust 18, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    it is a heap of work, and sometimes feels a bit thankless, but in the long run I believe it does make a big difference . great shots

  5. You could have saved yourself some time, skipped his bath and used Dirty White Boy as his song lol

    I think that just as it is with people, some horses are photogenic and some aren't. I have an AWFUL time getting decent pics of my TB mare.

  6. I really hope I didn't offend. That was not my intent. Maybe not my genre. I don't know, they are so beautiful, and move so nicely, maybe something more classic, not old and nerdy. I'm trying to think...maybe something from the 70's, people familiar with that genre are probably old enough to have some extra cash maybe. And yes I have tried to put music to videos, it's almost imposible. I hope I didn't discourage you, really not my intent at all.

  7. Laughing Orca RanchAugust 20, 2011 at 4:00 AM

    I can imagine how difficult it must be to pick out the perfect music. But I'm not crazy about the choice of music in those two videos either. I ended up turning off the volume so I could just watch the horses. If it were me I'd choose something without words. Or something less jarring, like Enya. Or something more classical and lilting with piano. Even some jazz music for the faster gaits.
    Despite all the music issues, your horse photos are looking fine. Quagga is stunning because his self confident and kind personality shines through easily. He seems to have a wise look, too. I adore that photo of you giving him a smooch. And of those three photos of him running...wow! That middle photo is amazing! It's obvious how hard you worked to make him look so clean and well groomed, too.
    Phoenix is just fun! His markings are hot, hot, hot! And when he gets excited, the way his tail lifts up, his nostrils flare, and he starts prancing, is very attractive. And you captured that well.
    The bay filly, Torch, I must admit I'm embarrassed to say, that at first glance I thought she was a mule. Frustrating that she doesn't seem to photograph well. She's at that awkward stage of growth, too. But she doesn't have that same zippy attitude, and fun that Phoenix has when moving out in the video. She's a real challenge for sure.
    But I bet your potential buyers and all your students will appreciate all the time, energy and attention to detail you have put into your website. You should be proud. :)


  8. Oh you definitely did not offend! I was just curious as to why. =) I have a selection of like 1000 songs from all across the spectrum. Tori was supposed to be done to "crimson and clover" but the rhythm didn't work. Phoenix to "A whiter shade of pale" but again, didn't fit with her movements.

    The music is the hardest part for me. So advice on it is ALWAYS welcome!

  9. Tori is rather ugly isn't she? She's all legs, angles and ears right now! The irony is that once she grows up, she will be a lovely horse, but there's a reason why I don't update her very often. This week is her PRETTY week of growth. Already her rump is shooting UP again. And of course, she's the shy wall flower type of personality. Phoenix is one of those horses that will not be for everyone. She's got attitude, and it SHOWS. Tori is one that will be a great novice owner's horse (in a few years, with training) but she will never have the "oh WOW" factor to her.

  10. Well, you won't believe this, but right before I got out of bed this morning, Crimson and Clover popped into my head for this...spooky. Anyway, try not to worry so much about the rhythm, you'll make yourself crazy. Try more to focus on the feeling of the music. For some reason David Bowie comes to mind. I'm having a hard time bringing something into my head right now, still working on my first cup of coffee. Something from a really good movie?