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.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Why do we hate the horses so?
Yet, so often on facebook, websites, forums, and of course a few blogs (fugly, that'd be your fans I'm talking about) I hear people ripping apart horses, and talking about them as if they are useless.
And yet, even the "ugly ones" can be useful. No, they shouldn't be bred, but there's no need for people to be as cruel as they are.
Look at this little mare here. She's one of my Second Chance horses, who now has a wonderful home and a young lady of her own. This mare was skinny when I got her (which made her look worse) and needed a lot of love and care to get back in shape. Conformationally, she's not exactly a stellar example of the 'ideal horse' either.
But, she's a great horse. Sure, her neck is a bit wonky (swan necked, poor tie in, thick throat latch) her shoulder is very upright (jarring gaits, inhibition of extension) her back is weak in the LS joint, her hip is short (lack of power from the hind end) her legs are posty and sickle hocked, with a touch of cow hocked for good measure, and she's over at the knee in the front. She has incredibly weird pasters, and her tail hair kinda sucks.
BUT, with all that said, this little mare is a baby sitter for her rider. She works in a camp for disadvantaged kids, does some play days, and is sound. She's healthy, she's happy, and she has a job that fits every last one of her flaws.
So, is she a "good horse" or a "bad horse"?
All too often we see people ripping on a horse. "Look how ugly that thing is!" or "God, do they have any idea what a piece of crap their horse is?"
Why? Why do "we" the horse community do this to our friends and peers in the industry? Is it merely a way to make us feel better about our own horse's flaws? I mean, it's not like a perfectly built horse exists or anything, so our horses must have flaws.
Or how about the "breed bashers". I get to see this one a lot, since my breed of choice is not exactly the most popular.
These are the people who are SURE that it 'can't be a breed because...." and their reasons area always full of holes. My favorite being "I've never heard of the Sugarbush Draft before, so it can't be a breed". Uh, so Friesians weren't a breed until the movie Lady Hawke came out? Never mind their centuries of history. We can't let things like facts get in our way.
Or what about the "it hasn't been around LONG enough to be a "real" breed" type of thinkers. Well, what's the cut off on that? Because if MY breed isn't a "real" breed, I have bad news for owners of Rocky Mountain horses, Tennessee Walking Horses, Missouri Fox Trotters, and of course the Gypsy Vanner is totally screwed.
Now, I understand that people have preferences. I learned that the Arabian is not my ideal breed. I love my Arab, and I love many other arabs, but the breed is not exactly the best fit for me. Quarter Horses are the same way. Nice horses, work hard... just don't quite work with my goals. Would never hate one, just wouldn't go out looking to buy one for myself.
But, how often do you hear "Oh those Arabians, they're crazy!". Or the Appaloosa haters! "Them Appies, they are stubborn as hell, pig eyed, jug headed, and platter footed". Uh no, the jug headed horses are the Sugarbush Drafts there bud... and we got the market on the polka dots with platter feet as well, thank you very much!
I think that we see a topic about conformation, pick out the bit we 'get' and rant on it for a couple of weeks. This happens on another blog quite often (ahem, the old fugly, ahem). Some one says "that horse has a straight shoulder" and leaves it at that. The tone of the sentence implies that a straight shoulder is BAD, and to be avoided at all costs, but the readers rarely know why it is a problem.
Stop and think for a second. Do any of YOU know why a straight shoulder is bad? If it's so horrible, why is it still around? I mean, we could breed that out pretty darned fast if 'we" the horse word, really wanted to. So, does that mean there's a purpose to a straight shoulder?
Now, I've been "lucky" enough to learn some pretty "useless" things in my life. As a child, I didn't have a horse, but I was so crazy about them. I spent time as a judge's assistant in 4H, being trained to one day be a horse judge myself, just so I could smell the horses around me. I spent hours reading non fiction books about color, conformation, and breeds until my family wanted to puke, simply because that was as close to a horse as I could get. I took riding lessons, researched everything, and learned as much as my mind could contain.
Not exactly useful skills to have in the 'real' world though. So, eventually I got into veterinary medicine. At least I could put my passion into something that might pay the bills.
And then I found myself here, as the Registrar of the Sugarbush Draft Horse Registry. All of that useless knowledge that made me feel like Cliff Claven from Cheers, well, it applied! Who knew! Ok, I'm still kinda awkward at social functions, but if someone happens to like horses... it's all good! And every one loves horses, right?
And the thing I wonder most: would more knowledge help curb this nasty little habit we have in the horse community, or would leading by example work better?
I'm not sure how to solve it, but I try to both lead by example (If I point out a flaw I try to explain in what context that flaw is not a concern) and educate people with my myriad of pony lore.
Posted by Pinzgauer at 2:11 PM