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, October 5, 2011

Midnight is here, and I have pictures

Ok, so Sunday we picked her up, but after arriving home at almost 3am, I sure didn't get pictures of her.  Then Monday I took the day off, and sat around having drinks and petting the girl.  We took Midnight out into the arena, which shares fences with other horses, and gave her the chance to get to know others.

Now, keep in mind that my arena fences are tall.  The front fence line is only 4.5 feet, but the other 3 sides vary from 5.5 to 6.5 feet.  Don't ask, I didn't do it, and it's a weird sloping thing.  So, Midnight couldn't stick her head over and sniff noses with most of the horses, but oddly she didn't care to.

I kinda am getting the impression that she thinks this is temporary.  Like she assumes that in a week or so, she will be loaded up and taken back home.  Don't get me wrong, she likes it here, but she's in a holding pattern.  She's not socializing yet, she's not really doing the normal things that most new horses do.  Rather she's acting like a horse that's been to a lot of places (showing, etc) and knows how to behave very well.

But, I'm doing my best to make sure she LIKES it here.  I really have a soft spot for this big girl.

So, I decided that before I got pictures of her, I should make her clean.  She was a sort of greyish brown color, but she is supposed to be black.  So, Midnight and I got to see how she handled a bath.  It's 82 degrees, the water is nicely warm, and I figured it is a good day to see if she'll freak out.  Keep in mind that while she's supposed to be perfect with this stuff, I have met "perfect" horses before who would try to kill me as well as look at me.  Every horse owner has a different ideal of what is expected.

And yes, I know she's thin.  We're working on that too.  See my pastures in the back ground there?  That hint of green is all inedible weeds.  The green grass at my feet is because this is where I hose off the horses (and those stocks move so I have spread around the green-ness).  But, many horse owners here in Texas are used to keeping their horses on just pasture, or just hay.  It's common for horses to only see grain in the winter.  Well, with no rain, there's no pasture, and hay is a fortune for crap.  I think it's running about $130.00 for a round bale (4x4x8) and that doesn't mean it's really "horse hay".  Much of what I've been seeing locally is stuff that cattle farmers used to turn their noses up at.

A square bale is easier to ship, but those run between $10 and $15 per bale.  Good luck finding a large enough amount to feed your horses all summer.  I think everyone is shopping feed stores, and checking with anyone that we can find who just might have hay.  I've gone the other way.  My horses get a complete feed, bought in bulk.  To give them "chew" I supplement with beet pulp.  If they still need some "chew" after that, I offer them either straw (I prefer oat straw, or "wheat hay") or really bad grass hay.  My concern with the "chew" supplement, is that it not HURT them.  I don't count on it for any source of nutrition.  I'd just rather that they chew on that then, oh, say my barn!  (Yeah, they started that last week).

Anyway, so I gave Midnight a bath.  She really did pretty good.  I mean she didn't want a bath, and she shifted from side to side a bit, but that was all.  I corrected her, and scrubbed her until the water ran clear, and by the end she seemed like she kinda enjoyed it.  I used regular old normal shampoo, nothing for color, and was happy to see how black she turned out.  Her mane and tail still have sun faded ends to it, but I'll deal with those later.  I trimmed up the ends, oiled her hooves, and put listerine on all the icky spots.

Just so you know, Listerine is my miracle topical cure.  It kills rain rot, it keeps horses from itching out their manes, and it makes the coat shiney.  In her case, I mixed Listerine with Mane and Tail Conditioner, and used that to help moisturize her skin as well.  Her owner said it's been about 9 months (she just had a baby) since Midnight had a real good bath, so I didn't want to dry out her skin and cause problems.

After I was done, I turned her loose in the yard.  I just wanted to see how she would do, and I completely expected her to roll.  Instead, she headed for the arena, and just walked around.  We got her to pose a few times.  I kept thinking all that sand had to look inviting, but she never even made a move to drop.  That's actually kinda nice for me!

So, after she walked around and dried out a bit, she headed back into the yard.  I expected her to go nibble on the grass bits I have, but she had other plans!  I have a couple of bales of oat straw sitting out, and she wanted that over the grass.  Well, draft horses don't need too much oats (and there's a bit of grain left in the straw) so we moved her away from that.  I was very happy with how easily she lets me catch her. 

I figured that the first time I caught her on Monday, it was luck.  The second, I was happy, and figured she's a pretty easy horse to work with.  But after a bath, and mane trimming, and all the annoying stuff I did, this would have been the perfect time for her to flag that nub of a tail of hers, and head across the property.  Nope.  She waited for me, and then got happy eyes as I scratched and loved on her.

So, yeah, I'm pretty darned happy with her.  I know that she's a little bit roached in the back, but her legs are also very nicely straight (drafts tend to be cow hocked).  Her head is just lovely in my opinon, and her neck is rather long for an old style Percheron.  She has a good hip line (which I didn't really get a good picture of) and with some more meat and muscle, she should have a lovely rump.  Now, her shoulder is a bit steep, but again, that's pretty common in drafts.

I'd like to see a cleaner neck tie in, and a higher neck set.  I'd also like just a bit longer pasterns, and more suppleness in the back.  I'm hoping that the back comes with excersize though.  If she fills in like I'm expecting, I think Rico and her will have to try for a nice little SDHR foal.  If she is just too course, then I'm thinking that she'll make the nicest lesson horse of her size.  I can't say THE nicest ever, because well, that's not fair to my other lesson horses you know.

So there she is in all her glory.  I know a lot of people asked me for pictures of here.  Well, here you are!

I figure it will take a couple of weeks before she's filled in enough to ride.  Once that happens, then it will be a couple MORE weeks before I have tested her out, and conditioned her up enough to do lessons.  Once she's at that point, I am thinking that a ton of people will start asking for HER as their lesson horse.  Y'all know who you are.

Jae needs to give her a file on her feet.  They aren't long, but they are chipped up.  Sadly, that's the one thing she isn't perfect about.  She was trained to have her feet done in stocks.  I've already started retraining her though, and she learns shockingly fast.  Foot comes up, treat goes in.  Easy lesson, and she LIKES treats.  Now I just have to get her to hold them up!

Oh, and did I mention that I'll be training her to joust?  Yeah.... I can't wait!

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