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, October 11, 2011

They threw me a PARTY!

Last weekend my good friend Kris decided to throw a party for me.  She named it the "Iron Ridge Appreciation Day". 

Evidently, in her eyes, I had been a big help (I only did what any decent and sane human would do!).  When she needed riding advice, I gave it.  When she needed horsey advice, I gave it.  When her neice wanted to learn about horses, we helped out, selling them a great little pony, and getting her into lessons.  Now, keep in mind, this is kinda what we DO here.  We make horses fun for people.  It's literally our job.  So I never thought that any of this was exceptional.  I have a job I love, my clients are amazing, and my life is basically perfect, right?

Well, then Melody got hurt.  Some how that perfect little pony found a long buried fence footing, and tried to cut her leg off.  It got infected (of course) and tried to infect the joint.  When the accident happened, Kris texted me, and because of her work schedule we agreed to bring Mel' up to my place.  I can easily hydro, wrap, give meds and such all day, with out losing my job.  It just makes sense to me.

Now,  keep in mind that Mel is one of my home bred babies.  Ethically, I have an obligation to her through out her life.  Emotionally, there's no way I couldn't help.  So again, I just thought I was being a sane and normal human.  Kris though, didn't agree.  She thanked me countless times.  I reassured her that this is what people SHOULD do, and I didn't need any special appreciation for it.

Well, she disagreed, and threw me a party.  Who doesn't like a party? 

So, every time there's an event, it's usually up to me to be organized and get it all taken care of.  But not this time!  Kris set up a group of friends (Leah, Rachel, Betsy) and handled EVERYTHING.  I kept asking what it was I should do, and the immediate answer was "sit back and enjoy it".  So, I did.

I handed out a list of my clients, my friends, and horse people I knew.  Basically every one I thought would be fun to have around (so if you got an invite, you are one we LIKE to see).  Not every one could show up, but a lot of people did.  We had about 20 people there, I think?

I got to meet some wonderful ladies, and a few of my normal weekend riders brought their husbands up!  They have faces to go with their names now.  And me, I got to sit on my butt all day.  Did I mention that I even put on a clean shirt AND makeup?  It was amazing.

Stephanie brought her mare Godiva, and Casey brought Zire.

Zire is another of my home grown babies.  In fact, he's one of my favourites.  When he was younger, I had planned to make him my Jr. Stallion.  This was back when I was breeding Appaloosas mind you.  Once I changed my program, I gelded him, and this summer he found his person in the form of Casey.  She has plans to make him a lovely little barrel horse.

He of course had to be a pain when he got back "home".  He acted up, and was not the perfect little boy to start with, but Casey handled him perfectly.  She corrected with out being too rough, and got his mind going in a good direction.  Shortly after that, she was cantering on him.  It was his first time to carry a rider at the canter.  I was a proud momma!

And Steph wanted me to pick apart Godiva.  I couldn't find much bad to say about that mare.  Oh sure, if I really wanted to get all detailed I could have mentioned stupid things that have no basis on conformation (her hair is wavy, or her ears aren't exactly dainty) but mares are SUPPOSED to have larger ears (the better for stallions to judge their mood) and I like a wavy mane.  About the only true "flaw" I could find in her conformation, is that her neck is very average.  It's twice the length of her head, and not a milimeter more.  It ties in low and sloppy on her chest, but I'm pretty sure that most of that is lack of muscle and too much good eating.  Oh, and Godiva is plump.  Steph doesn't agree with me on that, but I couldn't find her ribs... need I say more?  Remove a few pounds, and she would have a much nicer neck tie in.  Yeah, I groped the horse a bit to make sure.

And her head!  Godiva has this lovely dainty head, with big pretty eyes, and a delicate muzzle.  She's 100% draft, but I can't figure out where that pretty lady like head came from.  I sure hope she passes it on!

Steph took the big girl out and rode her.  First she lunged her a bit in the round pen, and then Casey got on her, and then Steph rode.  It was a ball watching them.  Godiva was a very well mannered lady, and her training is just amazing for her age.  Steph has to be proud of her and how well she did.  And me, I was very happy to see both of them - Godiva for the first time, and to see Zire now that he's all grown up and muscled up.

Of course we had to have a few  incidents.  I brought Scorch out to groom and love on him.  He stood like a rock and was a perfect gentleman right up until the wind blew the paper towls out.  The flapping banner of paper caught his eye, but he didn't react until it came at him.  Then he pulled.  Just a bit at first, but the stocks are not set up permanently, and they moved, so he pulled more.  Then he pulled them over.

He managed to pull his way down the hill, but it was a rather slow and deliberate process.  Each time I thought he would panic and hurt himself, he would stop, adjust and pull some more.  Getting him unhooked though, that wasn't as easy as planned.  The rope was under the stocks, with the weight of it on him, and getting in close was not exactly the safest idea.  I debated cutting the line, then decided with the way he was acting, I would see if he would step up.  He eventually did, but I still couldn't reach the rope, so went to cut the line.  Of course, just at that point, he dropped his head, and I unclipped him.  Scorch and I walked away, and Jae got the rope loose, while some one else handed me an extra lead.  Scorch was a bit puffy, but stood well in hand.  Not bad for a spooky stallion!

And after that, my goats had to make drama!  Burt and Oscar were playing the head butt game.  One of them twisted at the wrong time, and they got their horns tangled.  I don't mean just kinda, I mean these goats were STUCK together.  We tried to twist and turn, to no avail.  Jae brought out nippers and a file, and trimmed the edges of one of their horns, trying to free them.  We greased the horns, we sawed on the horns, and still they were wedged together tightly.  Finally, a mix of sawing, greasing, and a screwdriver resulted in freedom.  They separated quickly, and ran off to sulk. 

And then the weather changed!  As you can see, the storm is coming.  It was a lovely day, and the party was winding up when these clouds blew in.  Every one began to pack up, load up and head home.  Now, we've been in a horrible drought since this spring.  No summer rains to speak of, and those we did have were very ineffective.  Seeing such nice dark clouds, and the storm line on the radar, we were all in good cheer at the thought of being rained out!

As people left and headed home, Jae and I finished up the chores.  All horses got their water topped off, all the skinnies got their lunch, and we moved around a few that had been put away for company.  As we were almost done, the font hit.  WOW, it dropped 10 degrees in 10 seconds!  The wind sent just about everything (like all of my top soil) flying, and Jae and I made a rush back inside.  Of course, it took a few more hours before it truly rained on us though.

I seem to be in this area that just doesn't want to get rain this year.  I have had rain all around me, but my place gets like 4 drops.  But once it began to rain, it continued to rain all night and well into the next day.  Even today, Tuesday, the ground is still gooey muddy!  I have actual real grass growing around the property (and will begin sand clearing every one that is trying to eat the nubbins of green).  The babies have all covered themselves in mud, especially the white horses, and the mood is just lighter.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend.  I can't thank my friends enough for all the hard work they put into this party, and we all had SO much fun.  It was relaxing and refreshing!  Not only that, but we know how to bring the rain!

And did I mention the presents?  WOW, I got LOADED UP with goodies!  From conditioners to hoof picks, buckets to lead ropes, and treats for the horses galore!  Sarah made me these brushes, with Iron Ridge Sport Horses hand painted on the backs.  Sorry, but those were my favourite of all the presents!

I feel so blessed to have so many wonderful friends, and that most of them are also my clients!  While I don't really feel like I do enough to deserve this type of pampering, I am honored that my friends think I do.  Those friends who have gone out of their way so many times - I won't list them, because that would make this way too long - yet they think that what I do deserves special recognition!  It's very touching.


My biggest shock of the day, was an anonymous donor.  Someone who wishes to remain nameless has donated a set of solar powered arena lights!  I had been planning to save up for this by the end of the month, and to get started on lighting the arena.  The solar lights aren't as bright as normal arena lights, but they do light well enough (supposedly) that we can do flat work after dark.  Because there's no wiring, the expensive part of lighting my arena is not a concern!  And someone felt strongly enough about me, and what I do, to buy a set of these for all of us!  I truly feel that this is a present for more then just me, because there's no way I could hoard a lit arena, nor would I want to.  But ..... words can't describe the shock and awe I feel at someone wanting to do that for me!

And next year, we will have to do this again..... and we WILL carry on well into the (lit up nicely) night!  To every one that showed up, thank you!  For all of the presents, THANK YOU!  And most of all, for your appreciation, and making me feel so special... I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You are the best friends any horse person could hope to have.  All of you.


  1. What a wonderful idea, and You deserve it!

  2. Laughing Orca RanchOctober 18, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    Finally was able to leave a comment. It kept bouncing me off every time I tried the past couple days.

    I'm glad you enjoyed your party, even with the unusual animal misadventures, too. You are very blessed.


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