Sugarbush Draft Horse to do this.
With that said, I am first and foremost a horse lover. I love pretty much all things horse related. I can spend hours learning about equine nutrition, or days talking about coat color genetics. I just love it all. And the horses! Well, we can't forget the magnificent beasts that awe us so. Their grace, their power, and their amazing gentleness to humans - I love it all. So, being in the position I am in, I often take in unwanted horses.
You probably know about Moon. She is the lovely Paint mare that we picked up recently, and have brought back almost to normal. In only 3 weeks she has gone from skinny, to showing just a hint of ribs, and being ready to get back into training. In the past, I have picked up horses, had horses given to me, and bought horses on the brink of death. I just can't turn away from those lovely brown or blue eyes begging for a chance. So, I started my Second Chance horse program.
It's really very easy for me to do this. I have the land, I have the budget for a specific amount of horses (40) and I have the time, skills, and know how to make it happen. There's a catch though. It's called "the market".
And lets be real. I am NOT all about the money. I do things all the time that have nothing to do with the money, BUT (and it's a bit but) I do have bills to pay. The farrier, the vet, the feed stores...... they don't come free. Not to mention the mortgage, the utilities, and all the "fancy" things like internet and cell phones.
All of the horses pictured here are Second Chance horses that I have rehomed. They are all doing wonderfully in their new lives, and are now the type of horses that someone would LOVE to have. They all came to me as the type of horse that you could barely give away for free. These are only the ones I have handled since I officially started operating as a business. There have been more, and there will be more in the future. I just can't give this up!
So, this makes me wonder. I'm slimming WAY back on my horses soon. I plan to have about 6 to 8 broodmares, with all of them doubling as lesson horses (if they are able to). My goal is to be down to around 15 horses by this time next year. Add in the babies, who I never expect to sell until they are mature, and I'm sitting at around 21 horses. That's almost half of what I'm budgeted for!
I will never take in more horses then I can handle. I've seen how badly that goes! Granted, I always set my "ideal" level below what I can handle. Like now, I have room for 1 more rescue horse, but I'm not actively looking. If 2 or 3 happen to fall in my lap and need me, well I can take them on, but no more. I figure my numbers are just fine where they are until I sell a few. So, I have a "buffer" level of about 5 horses right now - mostly thanks to all my friends who will jump in and help when I need it - but I do my best to stay well below my ideal numbers.
And unlike so many places, I am fully set up to not only foal out a baby (Like Lakota there) but also to raise him and train him just as I do any of my home bred babies.
But, there are benefits to being a proper rescue. The tax part isn't really it. As a horse business I can deduct just about anything, and get tax exemptions for anything horsey related. I already have that benefit. But lets be real, rescues get donations. How nice would it be to pick up an amazing horse that needs hernia surgery, and have a way to solicit for donations for that hernia surgery? I'm able to handle the basics with no problems, but we're currently in a drought. The exact time when horses NEED to be rescued, and I'm counting pennies and heads to feed. I can get the feed, but I can't take in more horses with out more money. Donations would give me more freedom to help more. But you can't count on donations.
I've been batting around this idea for about a year. Sadly, I keep coming back to sitting on the fence about it, so I thought I'd toss it out there for debate. As a rescue, people would feel more confident in placing their horses with me. I would do less searching. But is seeking out those horses a bad thing? I check the markets on a regular basis to keep up with trends. What's hot this season, paints, or solids? What's the average price of a decently broke trail horse right now? Those sorts of questions. And of course, when shopping the horse ads, I always come across the "losing home, must go by this weekend" type of ads.
Part of me says that it's not MY problem, these unwanted horses. Maybe I should just do less, and have more free time. But would that really make me happy? Part of me says that seeking out horses from owners who want to SELL them - often for such a pittance that they spend more trying to get a few bucks - means that those poor beasts actually have a chance. And the other part of me says that as a true and formal rescue I could help even more horses.
I've looked into BLM mustangs too. There's a holding facility close by. I could easily take in 2 mustangs, gentle them, train them, and obey all the rules while being compensated for it by the BLM. Yeah, they pay owners $500 to hold a horse for a year. After that, I could then sell the horse into a great home where it wouldn't kill some small child whose parents didn't want to pay for an "expensive" horse. There's no need to be a rescue to do that. And some of those mustangs are amazing horses! Even the butt ugly ones (who are likely the ones I would go after). But as a rescue, I would have more viewers, more potential homes, and more exposure. Mustangs are HARD to sell. They are a dime and dozen, and everyone swears theirs is "good" but no one can agree on what exactly "good" means. With out a large population to look at these horses, fall in love with them, and hopefully take them home, it is much harder. Formal rescue status helps there.
But, again, back to my original thought... can I mix this with my breeding, and not ruin either, or both of them? Instead, should I spend more time with boarding, training, lessons and such? For me, I would MUCH rather work with the horses, on MY schedule. I have learned that humans tend to have these ideals about how fast a horse should learn, and not all horses accept that ideal. I can't tell you the number of 5 and 6 year olds who are still working to "get it" and would likely be a problem horse if pushed too hard.
And before my friends and family panic, I'm not doing anything drastic any time soon. No matter which direction I go, it will be over a year before I make any changes. I have the plan for 2012, and that will be to slim down the horses I have. I'm just interested to see what people think about breeders who rescue, or rescues that also have a separate and unrelated breeding programs, and what the best way for me to mingle the two is. There are always pre conceived notions about things. Flipping horses is often seen as BAD, but rescues are seen as good. Would that social stereotype help me any? Would breeding along side running a formal rescue hurt me? Would trying to do both full time make me absolutely bonkers? Not like I'm sane or anything, but I am well known to over extend myself.
But I do have a soft spot for the ones in need, and probably always will.
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.