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.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's finally over, I'm so happy 2012 is here!

I am so glad to be done with 2012!  Oh my, was that a bad year for me.  So, I'm putting my best foot forward, and excitedly welcoming the New Year.

As many of you know, in April, I got kicked in the face by one of my horses.  That gave me fear and confidence issues which were hard to get over (and no, I'm not completely over them, but better).  Then there's the physical aspect to it: dental work, and the new scar on my lip (which is currently going through a stiff phase).

After that, we had the drought.  I don't think most hay farmers here got even one crop of hay in.  Hay prices sky rocketed to $130/round bale and around $14/square bale.  It was hard to find, and much of it was at the feed store, hauled in from up north.  I had hit and misses with hay all year.  Some was amazing, but then the supply would run out, and I'd have to go back to hay that I normally wouldn't even think of feeding the horses.  Dusty, dirty, weedy, or just empty of nutrients.

So, with the drought, horse sales fled.  As we're tripling our feed bill, our income is dwindling to next to nothing.  Pennies got pinched, and belts got tighter, but we made it through.  The horses all lost weight, but held on to what they needed for the most part (one or 2 of mine had it harder then others).  Over time, the lack of proper nutrients started to show up.  Oddly, you just can not balance a horse's diet on complete feeds and nothing else, for months on end, and expect the same appearance as you would on fresh green grasses.  It's the little things that I have noticed.  Manes and tails getting brittle, hooves that aren't as resilient as I'd like, a new round of skin issues (we had a bought of rain rot in a drought, ugh).

Things were ok though - not great, just ok - until the end of the year.  What I keep thinking of as "the kicker".  First I lost Hex, my wonderful brood mare.  She was one of my favourite horses ever (of course, I say that about almost all of them) but her death came out of no where.  I was treating her for the monthly sand clear, when complications arose.  She had a mild sand colic, was passing it, and seemed to be recovering, when between checks she managed to roll, twist, and die.  A complete freak thing my vet says, but horrible!

After that, my seizure dog, Rowdy, passed away in her sleep.  I loved that dog, and while I knew that she wouldn't live as long as most, due to the massive amounts of medications she had been taking for her myriad of medical issues, losing her hurt.  It still does.  There are times when I think I hear her, or swear I see her, just out of habit, and get upset all over again.  Rowdy was amazing.  Always there for love, and would just sit beside me gazing at me as if I was her entire world, for as long as I would sit still and let her.  She was one of those dogs that people don't deserve.  Just too good to be believed.

Around Thanksgiving, my grandfather's girl friend passed away.  While I barely knew her, she was a wonderful lady, and much of my family did know her well.  Granddaddy was devastated.  My mother was upset, and i can't even express my sorrow for her family. 

The very next week, I lost my beloved dog, Anvil.  Another freak thing.  He got into the garbage the very day that we cleaned out the fridge.  Some left over onion/pepper/garlic mix, a few onion tops, and he had a minor case of heinz body hemolytic anemia.  Normally not a big deal for a dog his size, but in the way of things here, one thing lead to another, and the heinz body anemia turned into auto immune anemia.  There's little that can be done for auto immune hemolytic anemia, but we tried it.  2 blood transfusions later, and he's losing blood faster then we can put it into him, and becoming miserable with it.  He gave up that morning, and so I made the call to have him put down.

Then, in December, my father had shoulder surgery.  He got a nify new ball and socket joint, one that only 3 people in the world have, and is now recovering.  Of course, my parents live with me, and any one who knows my father, knows that he is currently driving me up the wall.  Dad on pain medication is not something that I am well adjusted to handle.  I know he had an excuse, but I still wind up reacting to his "silliness" from the pain meds. 

So the next thing I knew, it was a week until the end of the year, and I decided to escape the world.  Last week I was ready to kill someone, and just hide away from it all.  Jae, my better half, informed me that I need to lighten my load, and that one person can't pull the hours of work that I've been trying to do (12 hour days on average) with out eventually losing it, and I think last week was my "lost" week.  But the break did me good, and the start of a new year is something I am really looking forward to.

I had more bad things happen last year, then I previously deal with in 3, and I hope to never repeat it!  I am still adjusting to the smaller size of my furry family (from 6 dogs to only 4) and I have a serious case of puppy fever.  No, I won't be getting a pup for a while, but that doesn't mean that my eyes aren't drawn to every adorable puppy out there (or, as I've had to admit, that I wouldn't adopt a super sized dog in need).  But, I have a senior dog, Suzie, who is very spoiled, and deserves my attention in these golden years.  She would hate sharing her time with a new pup, and so I just keep staring at puppy pictures and day dreaming.

But, of course, it's not all bad.

In these last couple of weeks, I have been putting some serious effort into my green horses.  Katy and Sweetie are doing amazingly under saddle.  Cayenne is happy and working well, with no hip pain (I made the mistake of trading her for a draft mare, and the trade went bad, resulting in me returning the draft mare to get "the Baby" back, who was injured) and Cayenne is learning to truly neck rein now.  Ishka has come a long way with Sarah riding her on the weekends (my mom's spoiled horse).  Poko is doing great, and has learned to tolerate the crazy things we riders do under saddle.

I now have about 11 horses that are broke enough for me to consider letting others ride.  I have the new babies coming next spring - and those are something to be excited about on their own!  We're making progress on the property, while it's hard to see, I know it's there, and the future is bright.

So here's hoping that every one out there is excited about the new year, had a wonderful holiday season, and a safe and happy New Year's celebration last night.  Me, I'm off to the barn to share some saddle time with my friends.  There is no better way to start the new year then this.


  1. Sounds like you had a roller coaster year like mine. I broke my ankle and had surgery in April when my horse reared and fell over backwards on me. I'm still not up to riding like I wish. I lost my cat and my dog. I adopted a puppy and and two alpacas. One of the alpacas was pregnant and gave birth to a cria in November. I went to two special rock concerts (Arcade Fire and U2) but had issues with fraudulent tickets for the latter one. I remodelled my house (flooring) which has been a recent nightmare.

    Here's hoping 2012 will be all good for both of us.

  2. I'm with you - good riddance to 2011, and welcome to (we hope) a much better 2012!

  3. 2011 was a year of maintaining and recovery for us, so no complaints. We have high hopes for 2012. Was wondering where you dropped off to. I've been up there twice and no sight of you. I'll bring the Boyz back next weekend.

  4. Umm, well, it might even be as soon as tomorrow. We need to walk around, but it appears they have pretty much eaten out the smorgasbord :-(

  5. Some years are better left behind. Hope 2012 is much better for you.

  6. Agreed!  Happy New Year to you and yours!