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, December 14, 2011

Name Ideas - Amber's foal

And now, for something a bit different!  Amber, registered AQHA as Crystal Lynx.  This is my test breeding for Scorch, aka Rorschach's Slow Burn.

And the stallion she is bred to, is my Stonewall Sport Horse, Scorch (Rorschach's Slow Burn)
This makes the color of this foal a fun game!  Black, grullo, black champagne (aka classic champagne) grullo champagne, bay, dun, dun champagne, amber champagne, and there's a slim chance of an e/e foal, so chestnut, red dun, red dun champagne, and gold champagne.  The foal has a 50% chance of LP, but it would not have much if any pattern visible at birth.  The suppression factors are high in both parents.

This foal needs a name that includes or plays on Rorschach (or the ink blot test) and possibly the lynx.  Bonus points to names that some how combine the play on spots, ink blot tests, and cat colors.
This foal is due mid April.

Yep, that's 5 babies due within 2 weeks for me.  Of course, mares being like they are, it could be up to 2 months apart, but I'm hoping they get them all done close together (so I can stay sane!).  I do have another mare that I believe to be pregnant, and am treating as if she is, but due to a bit of a mess, I didn't have her tested.  I exposed her to the stallion, she seemed receptive for a day, and then the stallion became aggressive with her.  I removed her, thinking that she had not fully come into heat (it was a pasture breeding with a calm and experienced stallion who just took an odd dislike to her).  Because the time of exposure was seriously limited, and my luck is NOT that good, I assumed that I needed to worry more about her boo boos then her being pregnant.  Well, lets just say that for the last few months, she's been, ahem, rounder then normal.  I have plans to test her soon (tm) but my luck hasn't been so good with the cash flow lately (can you say expensive vet bills for my sick dog?).  When I know for sure, I will announce it, and put her up for name suggestions as well.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Name Ideas - Dove's foal

KCF Olympic Dove, ApHC registered and half sister to Dream.  Dove is a mare that Sig "forced" me to lease from her, and whom I "inherited" when she passed away.  And yep, she's also bred to Sugarbush Harley's Classic O.
Ok, I actually don't have a picture that's more current then these that I would show publicly, but she's roaned a bit more, in the most amazing way.  I'll see if I can get one though, and update this.

And the sire, O

This foal will be either bay, seal bay, possible black (very small chance of that) or chestnut. So a complete toss up!  It will have a 75% chance of color, with 25% of that being homozygous, or a 25% chance of a solid.  This foal will be a Stonewall Sport Horse.  The pattern could be anything from leopard down to roan, if it gets one.

Names should reference metals and/or play on the Olympic theme.  I would like something with a bit of a regal sound to it.  Dove's last foal was named Olympic Torch, so that obvious name is out (that's Tori, for those who follow my horses).

This foal is due early April.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Name Ideas - Dream's foal

Next, is Dream, KCF Olympic Dream, registered ApHC.  She is also bred to Sugarbush Harley's Classic O.  Dream is the first horse I ever purchased from Sigrid Ricco of Knight Creek Farms, and this will be her first foal.
This foal will be a Stonewall Sport Horse, and my fingers are crossed for a filly.  
And before anyone has a tirade about my breeding a light horse to a draft stallion, let me assure you that I've done the research, as well as done this style of breeding before.  Unlike most animals, the horse's placenta completely wraps around the foal in utero.  This means that the horse can not have a foal that is truly too large for the dam.  Many studies have been done on this, in some cases breeding Shetland mares to draft stallions.  There is no higher incidence of distocia in this type of breeding then in any other.  (Sadly, if I don't post that, someone will go off on it)

And again, she's bred to Sugarbush Harley's Classic O.

This foal will likely be seal bay or chestnut.  Both sire and dam are Ee, but dam could be heterozygous for bay (At/a). As you can tell, color is not exactly the highest thing on my priority list, and I don't really believe in color testing horses that meet all of my other requirements for breeding stock.  (I don't disapprove of it, I just don't see it as a priority).

This foal has a 75% chance of some type of appaloosa coloration, a 25% chance of that being homozygous, and a 25% chance of a true solid.  I figure that means that I'm getting the most adorable seal bay colt, since I want a leopard or fewspot filly.

Names should include either Knight Creek, a reference to that, or a reference to thanks, heirlooms, or such.  I would like this foal's name to be a tribute to my late mentor, and a small thank you to her for giving me the chance to own a mare this nice (not to mention all the help she gave me over the years).  Names that touch on both Sig's farm, as well as my debt to her are even better!  It can be a subtle or a blatant reference though.

Foal is due early-mid April (second week of April or so).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Name Ideas - Nazar's foal

Next up is Nazar, my other Foundation SDHR mare.  Nazar is the name of the charm used to prevent a "Jinx" (can you tell which mare I got first?).  She is also bred to Sugarbush Harley's Classic O.
Nazar is my "little girl" standing only 15.2 hands, but wow does she have the moves.

And of course, a picture of the foal's sire, Sugarbush Harley's Classic O

This foal will likely be either bay or chestnut, but there is a small chance of black.  We have a 50% chance of LP color (Appaloosa color) but it will not exceed the pattern O has.  My gut tells me that this one is a boy, but if you've known me and my guesses on gender, you'll know that I do tend to be 100% wrong on gender.  Oh, I can guess color almost exactly, but I have only ever gotten the gender of the baby right one time (Zire!).

Names are the same as with Jinx's foal:  they should have some relation to metal (ANY relation to any metal) and can not have the word "Sugarbush" in it (my version of respect to Everett Smith and his exemplary breeding, I don't want to copy his name).  I do not need any relation to the parents names, but don't mind if it works out that way either.  I tend to like names that are a bit different, and have a logical one or 2 syllable shortened form (not necessarily a word in the name.

As an example, "Little Red Corvette" was called Crash.

This one is also due in early April.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Name Ideas - Jinx's foal

So, I said I'd be asking for help with baby names.  Well, I have a few mares expecting next year.  I'm listing the mares in the order of their breedings.  First up is Jinx, a foundation SDHR mare, bred to Sugarbush Harley's Classic O.
 Jinx, shown with her first foal "Jinxed Diva"
Jinx, about ready to pop with Soliloquy, her second baby.

And the stallion of her foal, the famous Sugarbush Harley's Classic O

This foal should be black.  There's a slim chance of red (O is Ee, and Jinx has never been tested).  Jinx has had 2 foals for me, both fillies, and while statistically, she should give me a boy this time, she looks and acts just like she always has when pregnant.  Granted, I want hers to be a girl SO BADLY.  If it is, it's a keeper.  We have a 50% chance of Appaloosa coloring, ranging from roan, up to a bit more then O's level of expression (due to Jinx's white enhancers, sabino and splash).

Names for this foal should have some relation to metal (ANY relation to any metal) and can not have the word "Sugarbush" in it (my version of respect to Everett Smith and his exemplary breeding, I don't want to copy his name).  I do not need any relation to the parents names, but don't mind if it works out that way either.

Foal is due in early April.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Have you ever had that time, when you just have no time....

...And you don't have a clue where it went?  Yeah, that's so me lately.  I just feel completely swamped, like I always have something on the go, and like I never have the time to actually pay attention to the people and things I should be paying time to!

So, for everyone that has tried to call me, and failed recently, that means YOU.

But in all honesty, I can't really figure out where my time is going.  I'm absolutely exhausted, I'm always rushing to do SOMEthing, usually something silly, and I've got almost nothing done that is worth bragging about.  Oh sure, I've cleaned stalls, fed horses, tilled the arena, cleaned my desk (which is a monumental task in itsself), fought with the computer...

And tomorrow I will do it all over again.

So, this weekend I am taking a nice vacation from stupid hectic things, and gonna play with my ponies (because it's predicted to rain most of next week) and then I'm going to take some time off from "work".  During that time, I plan to completely screw off, and do things that I WANT TO DO, like watch movies, and such (while staying warm and dry).

It's also very likely that I'll catch up on some blog posts.  I haven't forgotten about the tack stuff, but I am stuck needing to do some research (to make sure I'm not lieing to people) before I can continue.

But, to pass the time, for the next few days, I have a few things lined up.  Starting tomorrow morning, I will be posting a breeding cross a day, and asking for name suggestions.  These will either be Sugarbush or Stonewall babies, and I'll list the naming criteria for each one.

Names of course will be selected when the foal is born, and we know what it is!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Slaughter and horse value

Uh oh, I'm going to do it again.  Yesterday, I couldn't take it any more.  All the conversations about horses and slaughter going around facebook made me almost bonkers.  It's not that debate is a bad thing.  In fact, I really like debate - both doing it, and as a principle.  The problem though, is that people are simple regurgitating the information that someone else said.  Many people don't even stop to THINK about the concepts.  On the surface they look good, so they are accepted as fact.

This is not always the case.  As a very wise man once said, "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong." (H. L. Mencken ).  In the case of the value of a horse, it seems that nothing is simple.

Now, having a meat value for horses will bring some prices up from $0, but not all of them.  If your horse horse, say, has no meat on it, well, it's not exactly going to be worth much.  If your horse is sick, ill, or too lame to be transported, then it won't be worth meat prices.  Why?  Because these horses are NOT in demand by those wanting to eat their flesh because they have no flesh.  I'm sorry to be crass, but that's the sad truth.

So, right there, the theory is busted.  "But, for a healthy horse, there's now a minimum value" some will say.  Um, maybe, but is that value really any more then we already have?  Here in my area there are tons of horses listed for free.  There are thousands listed for under $500 bucks.  That's way more supply then even the slaughter houses can demand.  And for every horse that is sold, it seems that 2 more take its place, especially with the feed prices going up as high as they have.

But of course, that's not even the whole story.  Just take a look at those cheap horses on Craig's List, or the classifieds.  I will guarantee you that there's something wrong with them.  From my recent searches, it seems that most of the free and almost free horses are pretty much untouched.

Most people who purchase a horse do not have the skills to train a rank and unmanageable animal that weighs around a half ton.  When you consider the cost of training, you quickly realize that it's cheaper to buy an already trained horse.  Why, at nearly $500/month for training, and a bare minimum of 50 days at the trainer, plus the purchase price, you're looking at a horse that's already over $1000 dollars.  For what?  An unregistered horse who is green as grass?  Lets say the initial purchase price was only $500, you now have $1500 invested in a horse that's most likely still pretty touchy and inexperienced.  When you check out the horse sales, for the same price you can get this:

An 11 year old, grade gelding, ridden often but able to be ignored for a year and picks up like he never left off, trained through first level dressage, learning western, and about as bomb proof as a horse can get.  Ok, he's mine, and yeah, he's got ulcers, but still.  If you want a "plug and play" horse, well, this is what you get for the same price as some one else's garbage plus training.

So, if you think about it for a second, you'll quickly see that it doesn't make any sense to go out and "save" that horse some idiot didn't put the time into.  Not if what you're looking at is your pocket book!

Now, I have to mention here that I completely support people buying the "worthless horse".  I think it's wonderful, and tend to do it myself, but I do it knowing that the "cheap" horse is rarely a good value.  We should do this because we can help the horse, not because we can save a buck.  I also want to point out here, that the "idiot" I refer to who has horses of little to no value, are not always the back yard breeders.  Have you ever seen the prices that race horses go for?  Or look at the big breeding farms and their culls?  "Idiot" and unethical breeders are not based on their size, nor their profit margin.  Because trust me, I could make a hell of a lot more money if I didn't care about my horses so much.  It's not really hard to get people to spend money after they have fallen in love, but it's also not really the most ethical way to do business either.

So, back to my point.  The free horses won't really be affected by reopening slaughter.  The cheap horses are too prevalent to go away due to slaughter.  So how exactly does slaughter help the value of horses?

It doesn't. 

The value of a horse is based on what someone would pay for it.  The economy is in the tank, so people don't exactly have a whole lot of extra cash running around.  Even the best breeders are feeling it, and reducing the numbers they breed.

Now, from my experience selling horses (and I've sold a few) what buyers say they want, and what they really want aren't always the same thing.  People will spend more money on a well trained horse, regardless of how it looks.  Cross train that pony, and you'll get a decent price for it, it doesn't matter if the horse is GOOD at what you've trained it to do, so long as it's WILLING to do what it is asked.  Most of us will never ride the level that our horses natural talents can achieve, so a decent ability in many things is a very appealing thing to a buyer.  If my dressage horse can cut cattle one weekend, and trail ride the next, while bringing home ribbons, then I only need one horse, not 3.

Then of course, there's the looks.  I don't care what you say, a pretty horse brings more money.  Add some color and hair, and the value just went up again.  People will save for years for a bit of hair (why, I don't know, because in all honesty, it's SO much work!).  Add in big eyes, little ears, and a pretty head, and the price increased again.  Ewe necks, knock knees, cow hocks?  Yeah, about 90% of the horse population can't see those things for themselves.  I mean, just look at Boo, my Arabian gelding.

He's sickle hocked, super short backed, short necked, straight shouldered, and behind in the front, as well as a touch club footed on the front left.  But, he sure is "pretty" isn't he?  In reality he's a conformational night mare.  Nothing is bad enough to cause problems for the average rider, but he's most definitely NOT breeding quality.  I can't tell you how many people think I've lost my mind when I mention that he's a conformational wreck.  I love him, but he's not perfect - no horse is.

So, should his conformation set his value?  Or should his pretty?  Or should his training?  Me, I think it's the training.  Boo will pack around just about anyone, for as long as you ask, and be happy enough doing it.  He's lazy, so running out on his rider is not likely.  He's the perfect horse for any kid, basically!  And the fact that he actually likes kids makes him that much better.

So, does the fact that horses are being sold into slaughter make a horse like Boo more valuable?  I don't think so.  A horse like Boo is the type of horse that people don't sell, not ever.  I almost sold him, but I admit, I backed out at the last minute, because I knew I could never truly replace him.  His value is set by what he'll tolerate, not how much fat he has on his ribs.

If you're going to value your horses by the bare minimum, then you are doing something wrong!  I know I won't make a lot of friends by saying that, but it's the sad truth.  I got away from Appaloosas, because I felt like there was no way to break even at them.  With so many other people pumping out horses and doing nothing with them, then selling them based on some value that they had decided was more important then what the horse was able to DO (color, papers, or what ever) I just wasn't able to compete in that market.  Hell, I was barely able to keep up with it!  Don't take that wrong, I still love a good App, but I sure won't be breeding any myself.

And if you're going to be basing your minimum price on the meat value, you'd better get into drafts!

I'm kidding.  As most people know, I love a nice draft horse, and think that there are so many good things about them.  But they are bigger, and you would think that would make their minimum value higher, especially if you're basing the minimum value of a horse on its meat price, right?  Oddly, it doesn't.  The minimum price of a draft horse in 2005 was about the same as that of a 14.0 hand AQHA horse of unknown lineage, is neither had been trained to do anything.

And even in the prime of the horse industry, back in 2000, I was given a lovely little Anglo Arab mare, for FREE, because they couldn't even touch her to get her to auction.  By the time she left my place, she was started under saddle, and a real pest for love.  When I got her, she was healthy, so why was she free if the slaughter of horses places a minimum value on them?

Could it be that the value of a horse is more on what their person teaches them, and less on how much they weigh, and that slaughter will have little impact on the prices we see for horses?