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.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Man Behind the Horses - A Valentine's Day Tribute

It's a romance story, like many others, boy meets girl, girl likes boy, they live happily ever after, right?  But the devil is in the details, and sometimes the details make all the difference.

Back in 2004, I made a great friend out of some guy in Canada, who I knew from online.  In early 2005, Jae and I realized we were a perfect match, the kind of match that is just meant to be.  He's strong willed but hates taking charge, I'd be happy to have someone else make the decisions, but take charge easily.  He likes to be told exactly where he stands, and I can't help but tell people exactly where they stand.  Jae loves to work with his hands, but is smart enough to be the brainiac.  I like to work with my mind, but am handy enough to assist.  We are similar in so many ways, and complimentary in others.  Then there's the animals.

I love animals.  Shockingly to most people, the ONE animal I could never live with out, would be a dog.  I will always have a dog in my life.  Next of course, are the horses, followed closely by the cats.  While I love cats, I really don't "get" them like I do the dogs and horses.  Jae though, is the cat man.  I mean, they LOVE him.  He can't go anywhere with out having some strange cat come love on him.  But he loves all animals as well.

Jae always wanted a slew of dogs - and a pack is what I owned when we met.  I had 5 dogs of my own, plus fosters.  He thought horses were amazing, and had always dreamed of owning one.... one day.  Well, at that time, I had 6.

I was finishing up my degree, biology with an emphasis in genetics studies for veterinary medicine.  I had always thought I would 'grow up' and be a research veterinarian.  I love the science of it all, but hate working hands on with people.  What I wanted though, was to work only with animals.

So one evening, over coffee at Denny's, Jae and I started talking about our dreams.  It was the typical "If you could do ANYTHING you wanted, what would you do?" type of conversation.  I mentioned that I thought the world needed a better amateur horse.  Oh sure, Quarter Horses are good, but they aren't exactly built for everything under the sun, and my interests have always been English riding.  Most "low cost" sport horses are off the track Thoroughbreds, a breed that is often more horse then the owner really needs (although one of MY favorite breeds).  I wondered, why can't you get a horse with the abilities of the Thoroughbred, and the personality of the baroque horses, with a price tag a bit closer to the college student, young family,  or retiree's income range?

Regular readers of my blog know how THAT turned out.

Jae listened thoughtfully to me, asked many pointed questions, and was happy to realize that I really did know what I was talking about, and had thought it through.  Then he asks me, "So why DON'T you do it?".  Uh, because horses are expensive?  Because you have to do something to PAY to keep them?  Money, it's always the money.

It all started with Spot, and then leasing "O".  One thing lead to another, until we ended up where we are now.  Jae has never complained once about all the work the horses make for him.  Fencing, broken trucks, barn repairs, thawing out water hoses in freezing weather, he loves it.  When I ask him why he puts up with MY passion, he tells me, "It's not just yours you know, I like the horses too!".

Now, I don't truly celebrate Valentine's Day.  For me, everyday is what people wish that Valentine's Day was.  Jae starts my day with a coffee on my desk, and keeps that thing filled all day long.  He has been known to sneak out while I'm doing my "paper work" and take care of the feed, or stalls, or turning in/out of horses.  In return, I do the only thing I really can for a man this wonderful.  I tell him "thank you".  I tell him that a lot.

Some women might dream of diamonds, gold, chocolate, or roses for this holiday.  Me?  I can't think of a thing I would even ask for.  I have everything I truly desire - a man who loves me, and not only tolerates, but also enjoys the things I do.  I am so much more appreciative of having a man who takes the time to teach me how to update a web page, then I am of a few store bought flowers that will fade away.  I can hear him say "I love you dear" with every hot cup of coffee that miraculously appears on my desk while I am deeply engrossed in lines on horses.  I swear I see the tights and cape hidden under his baggy jeans each time he calmly responds to my panic about a fence down, a board broken, or a tire being flat.  His Clark Kent facade slips each time he keeps me calm while simultaneously corralling the horses, welding a new fence section, or stitching in a buckle on my broken halter that I "need!".

While my dream house might be taking longer then I had hoped, I can't help but be thrilled that we built it together.  Jae takes a quiet pride in being able to make things for me.  Things I truly love and appreciate!  How could I wish for diamonds, when I have a set of wind chimes made from the old fence?  I always would ask him "can't we do anything USEFUL with that thing?  I hate that fence!"  Now, it makes a lovely deep melody when a storm is blowing in, helping to keep me, and the horses, calm while frantically trying to finish up before the rain/snow/wind/tornado comes in.

And Jae turned into a little boy playing with tinker toys while making it.  That was worth as much, if not more, then the wind chimes he made for me.

Jae has his own horses too.  He chose one mare, the meanest craziest, evilest horse of the bunch,  and made her his baby.  She dotes on him, and loves him.  Because of him, that mare has a place in the world, and he tells me that one day, he's going to break her to ride.  To me, it doesn't matter.  That's his pet, and if he just wants to hang out with her in the pasture, that's his prerogative.

But, that's not his only horse!  Oh no.  Quagga, the stallion who very notoriously disliked men, took a strange fondness to Jae.  Q will dance, sing, and make a spectacle for Jae.  For the rest of us, he's a good boy, but for Jae, he's a best friend. 

And yet, I can't get Jae to ride very often.  His passion is in the property, and the details.  Jae loves making things better, and he does a great job of it, but riding is something that always gets put on the back burner.  One day though, I will have him on the back of a horse because he wants to be there, not just because I asked nicely.

So, when other men are scrambling trying to get something to show their woman that they love her, Jae is one upping them again.  He's outside building me a new fence.  Chocolate is nice and all, but a cross fenced pasture is WAY better.

And what does he ask for in return?  All he wants, is for me to not take him for granted.  Everytime he brings me a coffee, makes dinner, cleans the house, builds something I need, fixes something I broke, or performs miracles at the exact moment I really need one, I always find myself thinking "HOW could you take this for granted?".

And so, everyday Jae and I celebrate Valentines day in our own little way by paying attention to the details.  A kind word about a little deed goes a long way in making someone's day better. Having some one appreciate the little things you do always seems to be so much more important then the kudos for the big things.  The devil's in the details, and I do my best to catch every little one of them.

Thank you Jae.


  1. I think we both have keepers :-)

  2. You are so lucky to have him. He sounds like a great guy! Ummm, does he have a brother??

  3.  Ha... he does actually - TWO of them.  Although, I'm pretty sure one is taken, and the single one is a bit younger then you might be going for =)

  4. Wow... kinda got all teary eyed...

  5. So YOU own Quagga !  I was good pals with his 'former' owner. Good for you !