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, January 25, 2012

RAIN! (And a lot of it)

Yesterday, the forecast predicted rain in the afternoon, with heavy rains today.  I started out the day with working a few horses.  Ash got some loving, and stretching, and Midnight got a lesson on lightness.  Poko got pulled out, was acting perfect, but just achy in his hip, and so I didn't ride him.

Jae spent the entire day making the printer work and he got certificates printed! And I managed to get some web page work done on the SDHR site (minor tweaks, with major ones being prepared to be published).  A wonderful productive and rather busy day for both of us.

And then the rain started.  First it was sprinkles.  I had Ash and Moon grazing the yard and the boys in their pens.  None really had shelter.  With the first crashing boom of thunder, I headed out to get them stalls.  It was close "enough" to dinner time that I just fed horses, and locked them away.  Moon went easily, but Ash, OH NO.  She's feeling good, and wanted none of that "good girl" thing.  Around the yard we went.  She wouldn't let me catch her, and even had NO interest in the bucket of grain.

Now, there's a weed we call "Ash's flower" (common name "horse clover") and it's not only growing, but also blooming.  Ash could care less about anything else.  That mare wanted to eat every single stalk of it she could find... and it's pretty much covering my entire barn yard.

Eventually I gave up.  By this time it's raining lightly.  I moved Voodoo in with out a problem, and he was thrilled to find the dry, and the grain.  Quagga was prancing, and Spot was sulking.  When I went to move Spot into a stall, Ash of course decided it was PLAY TIME.  She came taunting us, cantering ahead of us, laping around us, and running away if I made a move to her.  Now, Spot is one of my stallions.  I was so pleased that with this mare teasing him, he walked in, through the rain, like a saint.  Ash got little more then an arched neck from him.  Ok, Spot hates the rain, and just wanted to be INSIDE.  Grabbed Quagga, and put him away (with out Ash's help this time), and then headed back to catch my mare.

After an hour, I gave up.  Left 3 stalls open, closed anything she could kill herself on, and headed inside.

Dinner, relaxation, start winding down for the night, and realize that my stupid mare is still not locked in a stall.  Oops!

So, somewhere after midnight, the rain gets worse.  On the radar, there's this line of red that's just moving right across our place.  We can hear the rain dumping on the roof, we can't see through the sheet of water falling from the sky, and we know that's a TON of water.  I know we needed water, but I don't think the ground can take this much at once.  And then yep, we got it... flash flood warnings.

And we have horses in pasture.

I can't tell you what time we headed out, but it was after midnight, and before 3am.  Layers of rain gear were applied, and we prepared ourselves to be cold and soaked before we were done.  Wandered out to check the run in, and there were 2 horses in there.  That's it.  There's room for about 15, and we had 13 in pasture, so where was the herd.

Stepped over to the fence, and we saw it.  Water... LOTS of water.  The ditch that runs across my property was flowing like a raging river, and over 10 feet wide.  The entire lower half of the property, from the round pen, to the pond, and around in a semicircle to the ditch was flooded out.  The ridges the place is named for stood like islands above the water.

And we couldn't see a single horse.

I yelled for them.  And this time, I didn't stand in the middle of the horsey highway either!  (Last time I tried that, I ended up calling the herd, and getting run over).  It worked too.  Jinx brought up the girls, and waded through the river separating us.  Good, she's on high ground now, and all is well.

Uh, no.

Arden, Amber, and Keeley wouldn't cross the water.  I called Arden, and she started to, but didn't want to leave the others.  She waded out into it (belly deep at the ditch... a ditch that is less then 8 inches deep when dry) and then she would turn back.  The horses left were the misfits of the herd.  The "weak links" that are more often ignored then pampered, and still, Jinx turned back, and waded to them.

The entire herd followed.  With subtle nickers, the whole herd wandered across the tops of the ridges, and back to the dry area in the back.  There was no way I could get  there on foot.  The current would have swept me off my feet.

So we got the tractor!

The whole thing had happened so fast, in the dark and the rain, that we didn't get a good count.  We had to be sure all of the horses - ours and the clients - were safe, even if they didn't want to be dry.  And so, we took a drive.

Jaz, Daltrey, Diesel, and Boo were all grazing on high ground.  We rounded them up, and herded them to the run in.  They said "nah, that thing is noisey" and turned back.  Well, at least they knew it was there and empty.

Then we drove across the newly formed lake.  The water was between 2 and 4 feet deep across the property (and we're not in a flood zone!) moving fast, and covering everything, until we crossed that last hill.

Back in the far corner, in the area where I have my pet cemetery, it was high, dry, and calm.  The wind was barely noticeable.  Jinx had the whole herd tucked away under some evergreen trees, huddling up for warmth.  Even the misfits were allowed in.  We made a head count, and every one was cold and wet, but fine.  We tried to cajole them up to the shelter, but they were having none of it.  So we headed back.

No sooner did we get inside, then another round of torrential downpour hit us.  The whole time we were out, we thought it was raining hard, but it just kept coming down harder.

The pond is now full.  Not yet over flowing, but full.  The horses all made it through, even if they refused to do things MY way.  It's still raining, but the water has receded, and I can see the ground again.  I have a whole new layer of top soil which washed in from my neighbors (Hope they didn't plant fescue!) and the grass is noticeably longer.

We spent a few hours out there, making sure that each and every horse was as happy as they could be.  I have open stalls in the barn, and not a single horse would come up.  Halters were a cause to run away, and I didn't think that "winning" this one was the goal.  Especially not if it meant horses trying to dash away through belly deep water with who knows what under it.

The forecast said light rain yesterday, with "heavy rains" today.  I wish they had clarified that a bit, as I assumed they meant toDAY (hourly forecast predicted 11am today).  I would have rounded up the hard, locked them onto high ground, and saved myself a heart attack or 2 (and a ton of wet cold clothing).  But all is well that ends well.

And sadly, we really did need that rain.

(Edited to add pictures taken today, after the drama)  The water has receded amazingly, and there's grass visible out there again!


  1. Sometimes I think you should be able to get a rain-check for rain.  Or snow.


  2. Soooo... what you're saying here is we should check Facebook this weekend to see if we're doing Pony Party or building you guys an ark?  :)

  3. That is so true. As an author and business man, I can relate to how you said "Especially not if it meant horses trying to dash away through belly deep water with who knows what under it". I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you're talking about. Can't wait to read more from you!

  4. That is so true. As an author and business man, I can relate to how you said "Especially not if it meant horses trying to dash away through belly deep water with who knows what under it". I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you're talking about. Can't wait to read more from you!

  5. sorry you had to  go out and get soaked, but I would have done the same. Glad you got some much needed rain! 

  6. With that much water, as poorly as your place drains in many places, PLUS the fact that it's raining this morning (Thurs), my bet is I'll be laying flooring this weekend. Hug my ponies for me if I don't make it.

  7. I'm betting more on the Ark!  It's still a swamp in the pasture, the arena is a mess, and of course, NEXT weekend (Feb 3rd) we have even more rain in the forecast.  I think spring is here early.

  8. Your delicate grey flower was one of the worst instigators!  Sure I'll find shelter, oh, just kidding.  You want me to put my HEAD in the halter?  Oh I don't think so... C'mon Daltrey, lets RUN.  Red and Poko had the sense to come in out of the rain, but not those 2.  (Although as soon as I stopped harassing them, they sure went in, and enjoyed the dryness).

  9. At the Mims place we had a camel barn. This thing was STURDY; it would safely contain a bull camel. It was made with telephone poles and aircraft steel sheeting, and 2 x 6's. And it was certainly hurricane proof!! So when hurricane Fay blew through? Did mah mulies go into the safety and dryness of the camel barn? Hell no!! They pointed their butts to the wind and continued to chow down on their hay round. I thought I was gonna have kittens. THEY didn't care one bit! 

    I should have expected it; in Florida it rains a lot and gets windy a lot, and windy and rainy together a lot, =-) And they NEVER used the shelter for inclement weather!  No, they used it for sunny days!