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, September 5, 2011
Fall is here.... for a week at least.
Well, lets just say that has lead to a flurry of activity. Between the holiday weekend, the horses to work, and the wonderful weather, it's been pretty much non stop at the farm from 9am until pretty close to sundown. I am NOT complaining. In fact, I'm LOVING this!
So, yesterday we had Pony Party number 1. Jae even said he was going to ride! Yep, that's me on Boo, and Jae on Doodles. My better half can actually put a leg on either side of the horse, and I now have photo evidence.
I've been working to get Doodles up and back into shape recently. Doodles has ulcers, and pretty severe ulcers at that. He has to get a supplement daily, and ideally a dose of ulcer guard monthly as well. If not, BAD things happen. Well, like Doodles wasting away to nothing as he suffers the pain of ulcers. So I fight this on a pretty regular basis, and I keep thinking I'm just going to sell Doodles into a good home where he can get the attention he needs and his environment doesn't change. You see, changing his herd is what makes his ulcers flare up. We're a full time working horse farm.... herd changes are the norm. BUT, I think I have him under control. Well, for this week at least.
On the upside, all of this work has turned that little draft cross into a tank of sheer muscle. I don't think Poko has an ounce of fat on his body! But to keep things "normal" (as in "life at the farm" type of normal) after his ride yesterday, he's chipped a hoof. As I turned him out, he turned to run off, and stepped on a rock JUST right, to take one hell of a hunk out of his hoof. It's just so dry out here that every one is chipping up, and a rock was not what he needed. He's not lame, but it's a HUGE chunk missing.
And Sorry Rachel, this is about the only picture I got that isn't from behind!
But Rachel also came up today, and did a lesson with Poko on his neck reining. She's been my western guru, and has shown me how to teach the horses to neck rein. It's easy! Just takes some repetition. She tuned in Pokes, and helped with a couple of other horses, and hung out in this AMAZING weather.
Anyway, my little pony here is doing so good in her shoes. She's moving out better, she's carrying herself, which allows her to remuscle her hip, and that's letting all the healing finish up. My farrier told me 2 weeks after her shoes I was allowed to ride her, if and only if she could carry me (and all the other pros signed off). And today I climbed back on. First I lunged her out for 10 minutes or so, and she moved out like she felt good. When I climbed on she was lazy, and a bit tense, but that's all. I think it's been about 4 months since she was last ridden (when did I do that trade? I rode her the day before) and she's a little rougher around the edges then she previously was. She isn't neck reining so good, and she's slow on the seat and leg aids, but all in all she is calm and well natured, and tried hard. We rode for a whopping 10 minutes or so before she got tired of carrying me. She's just a tiny thing after all.
I can't really say that she's coming along well in her training, as she's not really at the point of getting training yet. It's really more exercise riding, and refitting her muscles to be able to hold her. She's kinda pudgy, and a bit soft, but she tries so hard. I will say that this horse learns faster then most any other horse I have worked with, so that also makes it hard for me to know what I'm teaching her, and what she already knows. I ask for something, she might try and fail once, but then she nails it from then on.
She's now lunging at all 3 speeds, when asked, and reversing when asked. Oh sure, she makes mistakes, and will try to reverse instead of change speed, or turn in for praise instead of reverse, but the first day I lunged her she ran in a circle like a... well... an Arabian! (I can say that... I love my arabs!).
She's got her walk/trot work down pretty good, but she tires out quickly. What I LOVE though, is that she's nicely on the bridle. When she was here last, Lady had a habit of going behind the vertical, and trying to rolkur herself. We fixed that up, and now she accepts contact, and moves off nicely. The downside is that her soft muscles make it oh so easy for her to want ME to hold her up. As she gets tired, she gets sloppy. If I relax the contact at all, she hollows out. Self carriage is something we want her to have, but she's going to need hours of trot work for that.
And this week will be canter work. I admit, I wussed out today. With wind gusts up to 30 mph, and sand blowing in my face, and Lady acting all hyped up and ready to go, I went with a lunge lesson on finding her center of balance. I wanted to do this anyway, but my PLAN was to finish it with a ride, to tie it all in for her... Yeah.....I didn't even lunge her as long as I wanted to. SOMEONE got TIRED! (ok, and I was getting a bit wind burned, and sand blasted by that point). She was huffing and puffing, and sweaty... and it was only 83 degrees!
Tomorrow, I hope to put it all together for her. I'm betting she won't make a whole hour of canter work, but maybe if we break it up with LOTS of walk inbetween, we can get there by the end of the week. She's just a great horse to work with, and I really like this one. And she's easy on the eyes too!
So yeah, that's my update. I'm back to normal, things are all falling into place around here, and my craziness from the last week is going away. Nita is doing well, and healing up nicely (and remembering more and more each day). This high this week is supposed to be 90, which for me, means jackets in the morning, and long days in the saddle. I'm thrilled. I'm just so happy, and had the BEST day today. Here's hoping tomorrow is just as good.
Posted by Pinzgauer at 5:44 PM