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, September 16, 2011

Fear Friday: Who you lean on

So, things are starting to get back to normal for me.  No, not completely normal, as I still have things that just freak me out, but I'm a lot closer.

Since today is Jae's birthday (Happy Birthday hunny!) I was thinking about how much he's helped me to recover.  And that of course lead to me thinking about everyone that has helped me along this path, and keeps helping.

See, when our fears grip us, and make us feel weak, the best solution is a strong shoulder to lean on.  My main support is Jae.  After I got kicked, I became nervous walking among horses.  Since we happen to own a herd of them, walking around them is rather a common thing.  Whether it was grabbing a horse from the pasture, turning a horse back into the pasture, or handing out feed at supper time, I would occasionally have moments of sheer panic at being so close to a horse that could step on me.  I actually still really dislike walking amongst the horses at feeding time, or any time that they can get rowdy.

But, Jae was always there for me.  He never made me feel bad about it, he just offered to help.  I would be standing at the fence with grain in buckets thinking about walking in, terrified, and Jae would just walk up, grab the buckets, and do it for me.  He simply acted like a perfect gentleman lending  a hand.  He never made comments or even body language that made me feel like I was failing.

When we had issues with horses trying to fight, he would jump in and break them up while I was still worrying about what to do.  When it came to picking up back feet, he would just offer his strength.  When it was time to get back on a horse, he walked right there beside me.

But he's not the only one.  My mother, Nita, was also right there.  When I was laying in bed with vertigo too bad to stand, she would jump in and help with chores.  When I needed some one to just sit and watch me ride, she never complained, even if it was a million degrees outside.

When I needed some one to help, they were both there, in a way that made me feel good.  Knowing that I had them to rely upon gave me the relaxation to deal with my concerns, my fears, and my health. I have to say, that their support is probably what has made it so easy for me to get back in the saddle, and feel like I still AM good at what I do.

But, they aren't the only ones.

Rachel has been out countless times.  She helps me groom up the horses, and get pictures that I can put on the website.  Whether that means handling the young silly baby who wants to play after her cold bath, and NOT stand still, or scrubbing the inside of the back legs of a stallion, or just hanging out talking horses.  It's all help.

She's been great at keeping the excitement going on the business, our Second Chance program, and the training we have coming along.  She's helped me get horses ready to ride, she's climbed on my greenies, and she's always asking if I need a hand for anything else.

And there's Amy.  She has been putting time effort and hours into the horses that need it.  Green, broke, who cares, she's here to help me catch back up.  Amy is brave as brave can be, and gladly admits that sometimes things make her nervous. 

For me, that helps.  Not just having an extra butt in the saddle, but knowing that this brave rider gets nervous too.  We all do, and it's ok.  It doesn't have to stop us from riding.  Amy makes it look easy, and reminds me that others think I do the same.  If I think she's good, then I must be good.  It's a strange logic, but it helps with my confidence.

And there are others.  Kris, Leah, Sarah, Chris.... you all know who you are.  I'm sure I left someone out of there, but that doesn't mean I appreciate what they do any less. 

I am getting back to it.  I can feel the confidence.  When I look back a few months and think about the anxiety I felt just riding a broke horse, and now how I feel climbing on Cayenne, or Dream - both broke, but green - I can't believe that it's just been a few months.  When I stop and think WHY I feel so much more confident, my only plausible answer is that I let my self lean on the shoulders of those who offered.  Accepting that support, acknowledging the fears and concerns, and being reassured that it's really ok has made such a big difference.

I can now focus on why I love horses.  If I put something off because it just doesn't feel right, then I'm no different then any one else I know.  I've counseled people before to do the same, and now they are the ones that get to tell it to me.  While I might KNOW that is true, it means so much more when a close and trusted friend says it back.

I think everyone should have someone to lean on.  When you need it, it's so important.  When you don't need it, it's still pretty nice to have.  I've read stories of so many of you making HUGE steps forward, just because you were able to feel like it was perfectly ok to be afraid.  It's not a bad thing to try and fail. 

So, lately I have been preparing a few horses to start under saddle.  No news yet because I don't want to jinx myself, but lets just say that I'm SO HAPPY that I actually WANT to try this.  I want to hang on a horse that might do great, or might freak out.  I want to show that young horse that it's a good thing to carry a rider, and it can be fun.  I want to feel the horse learn, and help the horse enjoy its time with humans.

And who knows.  I may just get the horse ready for its first ride, and panic.  If I do, I'll back off, and try again later.  Trying is the success for me, not backing the horse.  It's the fact that I am willing to step up.  Rather then set unreasonable goals, my friends have made me see that just being around horses is the goal.  I might fail at riding a horse for the first time, but I will have succeeded in wanting to move forward. 

It's so easy to overlook those big strong shoulders we lean on.  From a husband that is not into horses, but will still check their water, to a buddy who offers up their packer so you can ride with them and feel safe.  I think if it was left up to me, I would have spiraled down into a well of self pity.  I wouldn't have recovered as much with out seeing my friends step up and do what I should.  And to remind me that I love this job, these animals, and all the risks associated with it.  Horses are worth it, just because I want them to be.

Even those who commented here have helped.  I can't say it enough.  Thanks y'all!


  1. Love that you said this:
    "Trying is the success for me, not backing the horse. It's the fact that I am willing to step up. Rather then set unreasonable goals, my friends have made me see that just being around horses is the goal. I might fail at riding a horse for the first time, but I will have succeeded in wanting to move forward."
    I couldn't agree more!
    GREAT post!! And you're right - you have super people supporting you. What a nice way for you to thank them!

  2. You've got a great network of support - and you're right, it really does help. Love it that you're getting that good feeling back again - you're inspiring to the rest of us who have a ways to go..

  3. Heather, because of your posts, it has made me want to get back up too. I didn't have a bad accident like you, unless you consider the only time I rode this summer I got bucked off, but, I am ready to get back out there. You have been an inspiration to me and keep succeeding, one step at a time!!!

  4. Thank you very much, all of you. I never could have come back so easily on my own. I think that's really what I was trying to say here. Granted, I keep getting rained out from my planned backing (I have the arena tilled nice and deep, and a storm sweeps in) but I'm just happy that I WANT to do this.

    Maybe I'll get up there and say "no, I'm not ready yet" but the wanting is the biggest step so far for me. I don't even care if I DO it or not. The best part, is that the idea of her spooking out from under me, and me hitting the dirt is not paralyzing right now. Might be when I try it, but it's not now, and that's a BIG change for me.

  5. "i get by with a little help from my friends" So glad you are feeling better and that you are surrounded by such wonderful people!

  6. Such an inspiring post. You are truly blessed to have so many supportive people around you. I've not had that benefit to the extent that you have, so I did spiral into a sea of self-pity, which is why it took me a year after my mare kicked me in the face last summer, to finally get back up and ride again this summer.
    I still become surprised when something my horse does sends me into a panic of fear. Every time I think I'm past those fears, something happens to stir it back up again. I know I've come a long way I know, but it's frustrating when that fear resurfaces and controls me again. I keep wondering if I'll ever be able to move past it once and for all.


  7. Your post is a nice reminder that we all have folks to lean on... for whatever problems we may have!

  8. I'm so happy for you. It's good to have a network of friends. I wish I did. I don't have anyone that I can share with or get help/support from. My kids are my kids and my workmates are just that. I often feel very alone in the world now that my husband is gone/passed away. He was my support.