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, April 25, 2012
The Future is Bright
Linus is a dream come true. While he's "only" a Stonewall Sport Horse, he's unrelated to most of my solid mares, has excellent conformation (so far, he IS only 2 weeks old) and a kind personality. If he stays like this, he will bring back both substance, lineage, and color into the Sugarbush Drafts, with out forcing me to breed to O year after year. Each generation I move away from O, is a generation heading toward the future. Not to mention the leopard pattern that was lost to the breed a generation ago, and he's homozygous for LP. His sweet nature will be a perfect cross to my hotter bred mares, bringing back the willingness that the Sugarbush have shocked me with time and time again.
So now, I have been sitting at my desk, looking at my spread sheets. It appears I have done it. I am where I had dreamed of being, and ahead of where I thought I'd be by now. I have a wonderful breeding herd - I'm not finished yet, but it'll take me another couple of generations before I reach the next mile stone. I am already making plans to geld my older Appaloosa stallions (over time of course, since the babies are still, well, babies) and reduce the number of horses I had been working with. I have 10 "brood mares" (if you can call these young girls mares yet) and will be down to 4 stallions next year, and 3 the year after (if you can count Red and Linus as "stallions").
I have another lovely acquisition that I'm excited to announce soon (just as soon as the deal is finished, since I really don't want to jinx it) and plans for my riding horses. For years, I have been working toward a goal, and now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. All because of the birth of these 3 babies.
It's a hard thing to explain to non-horse people, and not even all horse people "get" it. But, for years now, I have been in awe of the Sugarbush Drafts. They are everything I ever wanted in a horse, and some things I didn't even know I wanted, all in a lovely package. So few of us are breeding them, and the market isn't exactly flooded with buyers, so we can't just breed masses of them, and hope to "rake in the dough" from a fad. Instead, we breeders (all what, 4 of us?) need to remember that we are charged with keeping the breed as true to form as possible, while improving on the ideal.
There is one "new" gene I will be adding to the breed, but I don't think it's going to alter much. Red has exactly the conformation a Sugarbush Draft Horse should have, but he carries 2 dilute genes, creme and Champagne. These base coat colors have never been seen in the breed before. Yet, color is only a personal preference, and all base colors are accepted, so I don't feel as if I am making too crazy of a change by using him. He's completely unrelated, yet he has all of the traits we've wanted. Finding him, and the chance to be a co-owner of him, has been very lucky for myself and the SDHR, I think.
For the next few years I am at a stalemate though. My "breeding herd" is very young...too young to actually breed. I have a few crosses that can produce quality Sugarbush Draft Horses, but most will be Stonewall Sport Horses. While the SSHs are great, they aren't the end goal. I hope that one day I can convince someone to purchase a few potential breeding horses and start up their own herd moving forward for their own lines of Sugarbush Draft Horses. For now, I breed for myself, and only horses that I feel are a step to saving a nearly endangered breed.
And then in 5 or more years, I will be replacing all of my Stonewall Sport Horses with my second generation of Sugarbush Drafts. My herd will shrink yet again, but that should be my last "overhaul" of the program. After that, I should have my dream. Sugarbush Drafts of the best quality, with the best bloodlines I can give them, producing babies from SDHR x SDHR breedings.
Just imagine that for a moment. A herd of Sugarbush Draft Horses. In one place.
That's my dream. That one day, owning a "few' of these horses will not be an exceptionally uncommon thing. That one day, every one will know what they are, and respect them as a quality breed of horse. And maybe, just maybe, I'll have a few that are showing well, and changing people's minds about both color and draft horses in competition.
Posted by Pinzgauer at 2:37 AM