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.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Thinning the herd and thinking out loud
See, I have all of these horses for a reason, and that reason is to bring some genetic diversity into the Sugarbush Drafts, as well as a few specific traits, most of which are not color (but ok, getting the leopard gene back, is also on my list of "to do").
But that leaves me with 26 horses, and only 5 on my sales list! I'm baffled. Granted, some, like Doodles, are not listed, but only for sale to a home that is willing to deal with his ulcers. Ash and Keeley are in that number (26 horses I own) but they will never leave me. I refuse to sell an aged horse! Those lady earned their retirement here, and can live out their days costing me money all they want. I owe it to them!
But, I see the writing on the wall. A severe drought in Texas. An economy that is not rebounding as nicely as any of us would like, and might even take another nose dive. And of course, a huge excess of horses on the market. So this leaves me in a conundrum.
Doodles is about as bomb proof as I have ever seen in a horse. I can't even remember the last time he spooked. I think he was 5. He's pretty, he's social, he's just about perfect as a kid or husband's horse, but has the will to be a part time competitor as well.... if you don't care about being in the money. Doodles lives for a "good boy".
My father has tacked him up with his bridle on upside down, and headed down the trail, and Doodles didn't care. Oh sure, he got a bit confused at what was asked of him, but he sure tried to figure it out! He's taught countless kids, and their parents to ride, he will go where pointed, and stop when asked, and do no more then flick an ear at one of those horse eating wal-mart bags flapping towards him on a breeze. In other words, this horse's training and personality is worth a small fortune. And yet.... I can't seem to figure out a safe way to market that, and get him in a home where he will be appreciated, because I refuse to sell him with out disclosing his medical condition. Ulcers. Easily managed by just giving him a cheap powder (Ulcer Aid) on his feed, and not changing his herd around every other day.
Phoenix I am starting under saddle shortly (she's started the ground work for it) and she IS a performance type of personality, but that means that she's not going to be a good horse for everyone. She's um.... intense. A good intermediate horse, but a BAD novice owner's horse. And a timid owner? She'd walk all over them, and turn into the spawn of Satan. Most of the horses I'm working right now are older, and my keepers. Backing 3 year olds, finishing the 4 year olds, and keeping the training up on the rest.
So, my point is, that I know I should be selling, and selling fast. Just move them! But I can't bring myself to do that and sleep at night. I can afford them, but I don't necessarily have the TIME for them. So what is more fair, toss them into a home where they get some attention, even if it's not the best, or take my time selling them, and be picky? As you can see, money is not one of my considerations.
I've already come to the conclusion that I'm going to lose my shirt on any light horse I have. Looking at the market, horses are going for $200 to $500 bucks. I can't put a foal on the ground for less then $1000! Well, I suppose I could, but I won't. I want to make sure the mares are cared for, the vaccines are given, and all those important things like that.
I sell horses for the average horse owner. I produce good conformation, often color, and simply amazing minds. It's not uncommon for new people to the farm to ask how we get them all to come up to see us, or comment on how friendly and well mannered they ALL are. Oh sure, I could cut down on the time and effort I put in, and pop out loud colored foals for a few hundred bucks.... but I wouldn't sleep at night!
So, while I know I'm slimming my herd down, I'm not real sure how I'm going to do it. I also am not really sure how big of a breeding herd I want to keep for the future, even if they are all producing Sugarbush Draft Horses. Ironically, the tendency to only breed for what the market can support is what brought the Sugarbush Draft Horses so close to extinction. I can easily handle 4 foals each year, and the training for those horses for up to 5 years. That gives me wonderful well mannered broke SDHR horses to sell in the future. I'm thinking that's the way I'm going to go.
Huh... it's funny how typing it out helps to make it make sense. I think I have my plan! Now to spend a couple of years working to get there, and putting my "extra" horses into the best homes I can.
Posted by Pinzgauer at 10:54 AM