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, August 12, 2011

Fear Friday: The Nay Sayers

Ok, so you just happen to have a few things that you don't feel comfortable doing.  Maybe it's cantering, maybe it's walking behind a horse, maybe it's not even that big of a deal, but what ever it is just makes you nervous.

Don't you just love it when you admit that you don't feel comfortable with it, and some brilliant mind says "Well, just try harder" or "you won't get over your problem until you do it" or some other amazing piece of wisdom?  I'm sure there's a word for these types of phrases, but I don't know what it is.

I often wonder if those people think we just haven't tried to handle our fears, and need their short sentence advice to suddenly make it all better.  I mean, it's not like we don't hear this stuff all the time, right?  But said in THEIR voice, it's suddenly going to be the miracle words we need?

Even worse are those who add in comments to make you feel like you are failing.  Things like, "if you never push yourself there's no way you will..." 

Now, I'm lucky.  Most of my friends and riding partners have dealt with, or are dealing with some type of fears of their own.  When one of us says, "I'm not sure" that's all we need.  And since I've started the dialogue about fears, it seems that people who never wanted to admit their own fears are starting to feel at ease about it.  We all have them, about SOMEthing, and it's so much easier to have fun with no one is freaked out.

But, my friends are hand picked, not just people I run into some place.  Boarding barns, events, shows.... in those places you're likely to meet the Nay Sayers.  These are the people who want to feel better about themselves by putting some one else down.  At least that's the only thing I can think of for why they would make such types of comments.

When my friends are afraid of something, I try to HELP them, not belittle them.  I work hard to make sure that my advice is sensible, and takes into consideration that they have brains, and use them.  Evidently not everyone does this.

And yet we all do really stupid things.  Yeah, I do them rather often.  I'm sure I've said things that are offensive, and I never meant it to be.  I'm sure if you ask the Nay Sayers if they meant to be rude and crass, they would say no.

I train horses.  I help people ride better.  I have people ask for my advice on a regular basis.  This means I have greatly increased my chances for becoming a Nay Sayer!  I always worry that somehow I will spew words out of my mouth that will harm some one's ability to advance their riding (because it does require a certain level of self confidence!).

So I know what things set me off.  The blatant "you suck" type of comments, like "well, you're never going to get better if you don't just get over it".  Or even the "Well, I've only been riding for [time] and I can do that!".  But there are many more subtle things that annoy each of us.  What comments just set you on edge?  What types of "helpful" comments make you want to wring someone's neck?

And most importantly, how do we help each other, with out making our friends feel bad?


  1. How timely! My Dressage instructor and I had a sort of "disagreement" at a show a few weeks ago. I had my very green, very large, Draft mare at her first REAL show. She was already "up" and anxious. I was being calm and sensible about my own abilities.

    Well warm up was in the farms indoor arena. You can enter the indoor from inside the main barn. You mount at the door from the main barn to the indoor in an isle way that has three wash racks (full of horses and hoses going) to the left and the lounge/bathroom area to the right. At the entrance was a black rubber mat with holes to catch sand as riders went in and out. It was NOT secure. There were several "New" things that have never occured in Rosie's 7 short years. 1. A horse show, 2. Mounted INDOORS ?! 3. Holes rubber mats. I

    Rosie was hesitant, looking, eyeing, and I decided to dismount and lead her through the door way. Boy am I glad I did because when she stepped on the black mat it slipped causing her to jump the rest of the way through. So I did a lot of leading in and out.

    My instructor was very upset with me for not riding that her through that. In essence "bullying" my 2000 pound draft horse through something she was obviously trying to work out. She was not refusing, she was not running away from it. She was looking, blowing, sniffing, and when she trusted me and followed it moved.

    It hurt my feelings that my instructor didn't trust my judgement with my own horse enough to let me do things at my comfort level. In my mind there was just too many things that could cause a bad wreck that had the potential to involve a lot of people, so I handled the situation the best way I knew how; from the ground letting my horse work it out. In the end she walked through almost normally, but would never step on the mat, she just stepped over it.

  2. Laughing Orca RanchAugust 12, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Oh yes! I have had my share of the naysayer, know-it-all types who seem to truly believe they are being helpful and kind. But they're not. The people who tell you that they've been through similar stuff and then tell you how they just buck up and move through it like it it's all no big deal, are annoying. It's always the people who have never had a serious enough injury to land them in the hospital and/or have never experienced surgery caused by a traumatic injury. You can just feel them looking down at you, and saying "I fell off, but I just hopped back on. What's wrong with you?"

    But on the other hand, I've had some super supportive, kind, and understanding folks around me, too. The ones that pull me aside and share with me their own injuries and fears and tell me I'm not alone, and that they had similar ordeals and still have fears even now....are hugely helpful.

    During on of my Group Lessons, I was surprised when the Instructor asked everyone that felt fearful while riding or handling their horses, to raise their hand. And I was shocked and then touched when all 10 hands, and the Instructor's hand, too, went up. Wow. That was huge for me.
    Often times, when we have fears, we see everyone else as being fearless and brave and we feel so alone, which just keeps up bound up in fear. Seeing and hearing others share that they have fears, too, is a big step towards realizing that we're normal and yet we can still work through these fears, because we have others around us who can be supportive and understanding.

    Excellent post, yet again.


  3. Laughing Orca RanchAugust 12, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    Jeni you did the right thing by your mare and for everyone's safety, including yours and your mare's, too. It's a shame that your trainer didn't see it the same way. It's always a good idea to train from the ground first and then the saddle. What would you have proved if you had ridden her across the mat?
    I'm sorry your trainer made you feel bad about your decision, but just know that you did the right thing.
    I'm proud of you.

  4. I think that instructors try to help, knowing that you come to them for advice about how to handle stuff (like oh.. the RIDING) and forget that sometimes they might be over stepping their jobs. With that said though, KUDOS to you for doing what felt right to you!

    I've never understood what good it does to stay on a horse when you have concerns about coming off. This is something we do for FUN, not because our lives depend upon our skills. And it's not exactly helpful to your advancement to be sitting in the ER with broken bones... or worse.

    So glad you decided to get off. That could have been very very bad. I always tell my friends/students/clients to "trust your gut, even if it's different then what I've told you before". Because there's NEVER a SINGLE right or wrong answer to working with horses.

  5. Lisa, I got goose bumps reading that everyone put their hands up, even the instructor.

    My husband said to me once "But you're not scared" when referring to the things I do with and around horses. My reply was "Like Hell, this animal could kill me with a single blow. Of COURSE I'm scared!"

    I'm very glad you are working through your fears in a positive manner at your own pace.

    I am Proud of you too girl!

  6. I am comfortable on the ground. Have little experience in the saddle. I wish you were close, I would be there every day for you to help me!

    Life gets in the way and seldom have time to even try to ride...or is that fear that doesn't take the time to ride?

  7. Gail, I think it's a bit of both (see my Fear Friday about motivation! Ha, it hits all of us).

    You know, every riding instructor I've ever had, tried to make riding into a job. Something you had to PERFECT. I started feeling like I was going down in my ability to ride horses, not up, even though I was technically better. I convinced myself I wasn't that good of a rider, and things like that. Never mind that I was going home to rehab rank "man killer" horses with no problems. Oh sure, my toes turn out, and my legs should be further back... but I could stick like glue, and be soft and supple on the horse.

    That was when it dawned on me that we have to remember why we ride... for the fun of it.... is way more important then the how well we ride. I think every student/client we have right now is also someone I would call a friend.

  8. FernvalleyapaloosasAugust 13, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    "Don't you just love it when you admit that you don't feel comfortable with it, and some brilliant mind says "Well, just try harder" or "you won't get over your problem until you do it" or some other amazing piece of wisdom.I am sure there is a word for these types of phrases"

    Yup ,and it is CRAP.
    There is a point to helpful encouragement and a point to well crap.The "jut try a little harder " comments are no usefull and als quite demeaning , as if you are not already making your best effort!!!