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

So things have been exciting with the SDHR (Sugarbush Draft Horse Registry).  Stephanie Adame, one of our BOD members recently found a couple of "new" horses.  They aren't new, but it seems that I don't have their records.  These are some of the horses that we knew had existed, but somehow had been lost to the registry.  Exciting stuff!

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.

I also know that our policy of an open breeding book confuses some people.  They think that it can't be a breed if we're allowing outcrossing.  Sadly, more horse breeds allow outcrossing then those which do not.  AQHA allows crossing to Thoroughbreds, APHA allows crossing the AQHA and TBs, and ApHC allows TB, AQHA, and Arabians.  That's just to name the most common examples.  The warmbloods, most of your inspected breeds, and a huge amount of "never heard of" breeds also do this.  The reasoning is simple, horses are bred for a purpose, and traditionally that purpose has been more important then an individual's bloodlines.

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?

No, I am not picking on quarters.  It's just that they are so common, most people can easily grasp the comparison.  As a light horse, they are just as ineligible for SDHR breeding as an Appaloosa, Thoroughbred, or Arabian.  It's nothing personal.

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.

9 comments:

  1. I have a friend... we'll call him "cowboy" who is absolutely stuck on QH - cattle working QH's.  He's always made fun (light heartedly) of my draft and how much I rattle on and on about her.  When I told cowboy that Rosie had been accepted as foundation stock into the SDHR and that I would be breeding her to O - his first comment was "It'd be cool if the foal had spots" with a tinkle in his eye and smarty smile on his face.

    Cowboy and I went trail riding recently, he was in town on business (He currently lives in Houston area).  He rode my QH and I of course rode Rosie.  After 7 miles of up hill, down hill, rivers, creeks, mud, trees and flats he said something about "She's a great horse but drafts are so "dum-de-dum" about everything.  I answered with "really" - and galloped away with a touch of my heel.  When he caught up, I sat up and down in the saddle and she came into a nice working trot. I breathed out and she walked.  I asked "Where is the 'dum-de-dum' in what I just did?  It was all light and responsive - just like that QH you're riding, but without the drama."  His response "but she'd scare the cows!"  

    I decided to register Rosie as foundation stock, because I love drafts, I like doing different things with unlikely candidates for the job - Draft horse and Dressage =) and O is a very cool looking Stallion.  I love what you guys are doing, bringing back a breed that was almost gone.  Doing it the right way.  Oh and I just might get spots.  =)

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  2. So pleased that your horses, and the breed are getting some  good positive recognition. Looking forward to your posts on this 

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  3. A quick question only semi related to the post... what are Hacknieselse's horses?  Google didn't return anything except your post.

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  4. Oops...that's called a typo!  Hacknies.  As in the Hackney Horse.  No matter what I do, it flags it as misspelled, and obviously, I stopped trying, with a few too many syllables!

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  5. Truthfully, the original Stonewalls are also a breed, and older than Sugarbushes. They were part of the foundation of the Sugarbushes. They aren't just an Appaloosa Draft cross, at least, not the way Mike does it. My mares are registered with Mike, and he had a definite need, type, and goal in his crossing of Percheron-only to Non-stock type Apps and warmbloods like Knabstruppers. My mares have Royalty top and bottom, from both the Perch and the App bloodlines, and as you know, they are multinational champions in Combined Driving. Blanche scored particularly well in Driving Dressage.

    He's since added Friesians for a more baroque look, but the goal isn't to create a spotted Friesian; it's to add more flair to his driving horses. 

    It makes me sad that people perceive Stonewalls as just a mutt crossing of any draft with any App. That's not how they started out. I really wish there was someone who promoted the Stonewalls like you promote the Sugarbushes!!! I had thought about it, but I don't know if I could maintain the dedication and handle the paperwork! Plus, my husband has a cow any time I even hint it's time to breed Blanche to O, LOL!

    (BTW, if you wanted to do embryo transfer, cover the vet expenses involved, and had a recipient  mare, I would donate Blanche's embryos to the SDHR cause. She's 16.3 and 1600 lbs even though she's only 50% Percheron. And she's feisty with a work ethic that won't quit! But she's also coming on 20; I don't know how much longer she'll be around. I HOPE another 10+ years, but I gotta be realistic,...)

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  6. I try hard to promote the Stonewalls too, but in all honesty, it's just too much for one, or one small group, of people.  It needs it's own dedicated team.  And, while Stonewalls ARE a draft/light horse cross, it's a purpose bred cross (driving horses, who seem to be doing VERY well at their job). 

    I can't tell you the number of people I send to Access Adventure every day who want to know more about them.  Sadly, Mike's web presence is very lacking (so was Everett's though) and hence there's a ton of confusion.  So many people are willing to speak poorly of the things they don't understand.  As I hinted at in my caption at the top of the blog, most breeds are "just a cross" of something.  It's when there is planning involved that it becomes a "breed".  Sugarbush are a cross of Stonewalls and Drafts if you really want to get down to it.

    I would seriously be interested in that, just as soon as I move off some of the light horses.  I'm at my personal limit for horses (with the planned babies coming) and I don't want to get in over my head.  One of Blanche's foals would DEFINITELY be a keeper for me, regardless of color or gender (I normally only want to keep the girls).

    And I had the most interesting thing happen the other day at the feed store.  Some one asked me, since I am into drafts, if I had heard about those Appaloosa Draft crosses... something that starts with an S.... And how desirable they are becoming in the local jumping circuit.  Not sure of the veracity of it, but was very interesting, since the trainer I was talking to had no idea my horses were Sugarbushes.

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  7. I try hard to promote the Stonewalls too, but in all honesty, it's just too much for one, or one small group, of people.  It needs it's own dedicated team.  And, while Stonewalls ARE a draft/light horse cross, it's a purpose bred cross (driving horses, who seem to be doing VERY well at their job). 

    I can't tell you the number of people I send to Access Adventure every day who want to know more about them.  Sadly, Mike's web presence is very lacking (so was Everett's though) and hence there's a ton of confusion.  So many people are willing to speak poorly of the things they don't understand.  As I hinted at in my caption at the top of the blog, most breeds are "just a cross" of something.  It's when there is planning involved that it becomes a "breed".  Sugarbush are a cross of Stonewalls and Drafts if you really want to get down to it.

    I would seriously be interested in that, just as soon as I move off some of the light horses.  I'm at my personal limit for horses (with the planned babies coming) and I don't want to get in over my head.  One of Blanche's foals would DEFINITELY be a keeper for me, regardless of color or gender (I normally only want to keep the girls).

    And I had the most interesting thing happen the other day at the feed store.  Some one asked me, since I am into drafts, if I had heard about those Appaloosa Draft crosses... something that starts with an S.... And how desirable they are becoming in the local jumping circuit.  Not sure of the veracity of it, but was very interesting, since the trainer I was talking to had no idea my horses were Sugarbushes.

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  8. I try hard to promote the Stonewalls too, but in all honesty, it's just
    too much for one, or one small group, of people.  It needs it's own
    dedicated team.  And, while Stonewalls ARE a draft/light horse cross,
    it's a purpose bred cross (driving horses, who seem to be doing VERY
    well at their job). 



    I can't tell you the number of people I send to Access Adventure every
    day who want to know more about them.  Sadly, Mike's web presence is
    very lacking (so was Everett's though) and hence there's a ton of
    confusion.  So many people are willing to speak poorly of the things
    they don't understand.  As I hinted at in my caption at the top of the
    blog, most breeds are "just a cross" of something.  It's when there is
    planning involved that it becomes a "breed".  Sugarbush are a cross of
    Stonewalls and Drafts if you really want to get down to it.



    I would seriously be interested in that, just as soon as I move off some
    of the light horses.  I'm at my personal limit for horses (with the
    planned babies coming) and I don't want to get in over my head.  One of
    Blanche's foals would DEFINITELY be a keeper for me, regardless of color
    or gender (I normally only want to keep the girls).



    And I had the most interesting thing happen the other day at the feed
    store.  Some one asked me, since I am into drafts, if I had heard about
    those Appaloosa Draft crosses... something that starts with an S.... And
    how desirable they are becoming in the local jumping circuit.  Not sure
    of the veracity of it, but was very interesting, since the trainer I
    was talking to had no idea my horses were Sugarbushes.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete