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.
Friday, January 13, 2012
I wanna talk about the Sugarbush Draft Horses some more
We've also seen a lot of interest in the breed lately. I can't tell you how great this is. The Sugarbush Draft Horse has been around a long time, but never truly got much recognition. Our numbers aren't far from that of the ACDHA, and yet, only a few people have ever heard of this breed. To have more people talking about these horses means that the breed's chances at a true revival is going up exponentially.
But, a lot of people don't understand the Sugarbush Draft. They think they do, and they assume it's a new designer breed. It's not - no more then the American Paint Horse, American Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, or Tennessee Walking Horse are "new" or "designer" breeds. Their inceptions are all within the same decade, and their means of formation are all so very similar.
What's the difference then, that makes people look down on the SDHR, or look over it, or never even know it existed? Well, marketing and breeding for quantity. You see, the SDHR never really pushed itsself as a registry. Mr. Smith never ran ads when he started, begging for new horses, he never pushed large scale breeding, and he never really cared if "lots" of people loved what he was doing. Instead, Everett Smith put his heart and soul into making the best draft horse for his purposes that he could. He bred responsibly, and encouraged others to do the same.
The irony to me, is that so many people wish that registries would stop pushing the over breeding just to keep up their revenues (because registries make most of their money on registrations and transfers, so more horses means more money). People complain that registries don't push proper breeding ethics over show rewards (futurities do promote over breeding by the most popular stallions). And yet, when Everett did it properly, many people who say those very things are the same ones who say "oh that's not a breed because I have never heard of it before". Well, I'm sure that the Altai, the Knabstrupper, and the Friesian all are glad that some movies used their horses so that they can be "real" breeds now, even though they had centuries of history behind them.
And with only 1 unrelated breeding pair, we don't exactly have a lot of options, unless we want to turn the breed into a colored version of something else. Instead, what we have done, is approve horses with the proper body style, rather then those with the proper parentage. This idea came from the Cleveland Bays. When their breed was in danger, they wisely began registering horses from other breeds who most closely fit the ideal conformation. Today the Cleveland Bay is a horse notorious for its consistency, and unique appearance, while maintaining its lack of health issue (which are commonly seen when working with a gene pool that is a little too close).
One of the biggest bits of confusion is something I even commented on at the top of my blog. So many people think that these are simply draft/appaloosa crosses. They aren't. The Sugarbush Draft Horse is a breed by the scientific definition of it. But, never fear, I'll get into that more another day. Yes, we do allow horses with appaloosa or light horse ancestry, but it is still from a restricted breeding pool. It's just that our pool is restricted in ways other then what paperwork the horse has. If you think about it, you quickly realize that this does make more sense. A Halter type quarter horse is very different conformationally, then say a racing type quarter horse. How then can a breed say there is any standard in type when allowing a horse that is a "quarter horse" to be used, and no standard when matching a body style is more important then parentage?
So, with all the new interest in the breed, the limitations of facebook, and the ease of giving a complete answer in this blog, I'm going to be doing a few topics on things related to the SDHR.
Of course, as an addict to these horses, I'm excited to be able to ramble on about them. I can't even tell you how impressed I am with the breed. I have worked with so many different types of horses in my life, from Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Paints, Appaloosas, and a few Warmbloods (Holsteiner, Hanoverian, Dutch, American and Canadian), Mustangs, grades, Percherons, Clydesdales, Hackney horses - most being some one else's horses I could steal time with - and so my experiences are rather varied. The interesting thing is, that I always had this ideal in my head of what a "perfect" horse should be.
I wanted something big and strong (because there's just something kinda cool about the drafts) with a nice calm personality, but a horse that is very intelligent. I wanted something realistically sized (so I can mount from the ground, with out a step ladder) yet powerful. I want a nice size barrel, but I also want the flexibility and athleticism of a hot blood. In the Sugarbush Drafts, I have found it.
I am convinced that these horses are the best thing in the world. I am thrilled with the progress I can see happening in the SDHR, and I am excited for the future of this breed. The only thing we need now, are more horses, and more wonderful homes for them to live in.
Posted by Pinzgauer at 6:09 PM