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, August 10, 2011

It's been HOT!

Oh my it's been hot.  Crazy hot.  In other words, too hot to do much outside.

Now, I happen to LIKE summers in Texas, but I can only handle it up until around 105.  My ideal is around 95.  I know, right now my friends are thinking "she's nuts"... but I swear it's because I'm part lizard.

At any rate, last Friday was my birthday, and I had these wonderful plans for a nice and lazy summer day.  Sadly, the summer weather defeated me.

First, Jaz started acting weird.  Now, those of you who know Leah's darling and very delicate grey flower, know that if he's weird, it's just going to get worse.  I checked his vitals, and they said he was fine, but he was just not right.  Jaz was laying down, but not rolling, yet getting up when I walked to him.  Maybe it was just nap time.  Then he had little interest in his lunch.  He wasn't really crazy about the water, or the orange gatoraid I offered him.  Hmm.  Nothing truly WRONG, just a lot of almost wrong things.

So, Jaz got cold hosed, and put behind fans.  He perked up, but still wasn't normal.  I let Leah know, and she went out and got him his favourite gatoraid, and a couple more fans.  With 2 fans on him, he was much better the morning after. 

And Saturday, Diesel, decided to try to do the same thing.  Well, Diesel of course had to do it differently.  Jae lets a dog out the back door, and sees Diesel standing there not sweating (Uh OH!) and panting away.  Ah crap.  My first though was he had already become anhydrotic, but Jae said that only a few hours earlier he looked just like everyone else.  He remembered because he petted the big guy, and Diesel was sweating, but not dripping.

So, he gets hosed, and a stall across from Jaz, with a fan of his own.  A few hours later he appeared to be doing well.  Both boys now were getting soaked beet pulp with salt (before I had been skipping the soaking part) and soaked grain at dinner time.  That was about 3 gallons of water just on the "food" plus "cool" water to drink.  I think much of the problem is that the water from the horse comes out tepid at best, and often warm.  The pipes are running through sand that is at least 110, and probably more like 115 degrees!

And then Sunday comes, and what do I see?  Ash, my 21 year old mare - the horse I had just been bragging about sweating so well just the day before - drier then normal, but panting. Gah!  So yeah, we are getting to be good at this by now.  Hosed her off, put her with fans, and in less then 15 minutes, she's looking good.  Another 10 later, and she's sweaty in her normal "I'm Ash and a sweat pig" kinda way.  So she gets on the same routine as the others now.

We are in the barn around 8am watering.  The "special needs" horses get a complete feed soaked, with mineral salts.  About 2 hours later, they get checked again, and get beet pulp with gatoraid.  By this time they have also drank about 3 gallons of clean water as well, and it's hot.  So, they get hosed off, and put back behind fans.  Repeat that every 2 hours until the sun goes down around 9pm.  Ok, they only get the beet pulp at meal times, but they are offered gatoraid all day long, as well as water and salt.  They aren't getting any turn out, but it's not like that's a big deal.  It's HOT out there, and all the herd is standing under the trees, not moving.  There's nothing to graze, and the special needs horses are very happy behind their fans.  I let them roam around the yard at night when I clean stalls, but that's about all they need.  Even then, they walk out of the barn, to the yard, graze on the grass there (which is only growing because I hose the horses off on it!) and have NO problems coming back inside.

Normally, August is my favorite time of year.  I love the sound of the cicadas in the trees, the weather feels as cozy as sitting in front of a camp fire, and there's so little expectation to get work done that it always seem to be a bit calmer.  This year, I'm SO ready for it to be over.

We haven't had rain in months (unless you count the stuff that dries as it hits the ground).  I have NO pasture left at all.  We can't seem to find hay for a decent price either!  I just went to the feed store to buy some hay the other day, only to find that it had gone up $2.00 per bale, but my bales went from 75 pounds down to 50.  And this hay is NOT all that pretty.  It's clean, but it's DRY.  I'm upping the alternate forages (more beet pulp for all) and they are already on a complete feed, so I'm really not all that stressed about it, but I would like to have a useable pasture again. 

A few weeks ago we went riding in one of my paddocks.  Leah and I made a lap, and decided to head back to the arena!  The cracks in the pasture are now inches wide.  We have one behind the house that is like a fault like, it runs almost 100 feet, and there's no visible bottom.  Ok, it's about 2 inches wide, but still... this is sandy loam we're talking about!

So if you happen to see some of this, would you send it my way?


  1. I'll visit, but I'm not riding until the heat breaks a bit. Riding in this heat would not be healthy for me or my pony. Mostly my pony.

  2. Laughing Orca RanchAugust 12, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Our monsoon season started of well, but it's been a week now since we've had a good rain. The little bits of grass that grew are already turning brown and some weird purple weeds are sprouting up. ugh!
    At least we don't have that crazy heat up here in the mountains. Once you're in the shade, a nice breeze blows through and it feels pretty comfortable and cool.
    Poor Special Needs horses that you've got there. They must be very challenging to care for and keep on top of to make sure they don't suffer. Good idea to soak everything to add additional water. But I thought that it was a given that beet pulp should always be soaked because it can expand in the stomach of the horse and cause problems if fed dry. Do you ever have any problems feeding it dry?
    I've never given my mare Gatorade. I should try it, just in case I ever need it. What is Jaz's favorite flavor?


  3. Jaz likes the blue pomegranate one. It's um.. VERY blue. Leah started her boys on it, and mine were SURE it would kill them. After one started though, the others are much more willing to try it. That whole "monkey see, monkey do" thing.

    As for beet pulp don't feed it dry to a horse that tends to choke or bolt food. They can choke on it (like eating saltines... a bit dry). But the whole stomach thing, totally urban legend! Oh sure, it expands with water, but the stomach is built to handle that. If the amount of volume increases too quickly, the first in, is pushed out (The lower sphincter in the stomach is a pressure release valve too). Since beet pulp is mostly digested in the small intestine anyways, that's not a problem at all.

    With our lack of pasture, my horses like the "chew factor" it gives them. If your horses ever start eating trees/wood because of boredom, adding a pound of beet pulp dry to their feed usually stops it (and some of mine were tree chewing in the pastures). That type of behavior is them signaling a need for more long stem fibers. Even if you have grass, if it's short, some will try this. Now, being in well.. desert, yours probably have to have hay year round, so you may never see this, but if you ever are in a situation where you just can't GET that much hay, it's good little trick to know about.

    You can replace up to 20% of your horse's diet with beet pulp (by dry weight) if you have to. And Beet Pulp will be around and easily available so long as we keep eating sugar! It's also got a pretty decent Cal/phos ratio. I can't remember what exactly now, but if you need to balance out something high in phos, add beet pulp (it's high on the calcium side).