The SDHR at THIS TIME is requiring a minimum of "over 50% draft blood" for registration. Now, here's what most people do not understand. In 2008 there were 12 SDHR horses left. Of those 12, only 2 were not related, and the rest were either siblings or offspring of those 2. The SDHR had 2 options. Let the breed die out, or do something to bring in new blood.
After talking with the ALBC (that's the American Livestock Breed Conservancy) the best course of action for the Sugarbush Draft to prevent extinction was to try and find horses who were as close as possible to the conformational ideal as we could. Measurements and standards were taken from the old lines, and ratios determined. From these, horses are measured against them, for their own size. Such things as back should be 33% to 35% of that horse's body length. Doesn't matter how big that horse is, so long as the ratio of back to horse is between 33 and 35%. This revival plan was based upon the revival of the Cleveland Bays at the turn of the 20th century. It is not a new idea, and it is not an ideal situation.
Horses must be within 70% of the ideal. This means that the Foundation horses accepted are not always ideal, but when bred together will maintain the breed type. The goal of the SDHR is to retain the conformational style of the breed, and sadly there's no other breed out there with such similar conformation, so horses were chosen regardless of pedigree. Too many generations of crossing back to Percherons had started to show in the breed. They were starting to look like Percherons with dots, rather than the Sugarbush Draft that was created by Mr. Smith. We also encourage owners to breed forward each generation, which is why we have the generational tags on the registration numbers, such as F for Foundation, and G1 for first generation (more than 50% draft up to 60% draft) or G2 for second generation (more than 60% draft up to 70% draft).
All of the horses selected have a minimum of one trait to bring to the breed, and are accepted on the condition that their offspring will be reviewed for improvement of the breed. Are they different? Yes. But the goal is not to find all of the spotted draft crosses in the world, but to bring the breed back to the conformation of a few decades back, with multiple bloodlines.
In 2008 this was a 2 person operation. In 2009 a 3 person operation. Today, in 2013, we have a full staff of volunteers (none of us make any money from the time and effort we put into the breed) but we are starting an official membership registration, and BOD elections are in the near future. Last year, our horse owners were considered the only members, and they decided to retain all staff and add more.
Now, one person in this thread is unhappy with the breed for personal reasons (not everyone's horse gets accepted) so is on a mission to discredit the work the staff, owners, and breeders are doing. We try to be transparent about what we are doing. We are not hiding anything, and we encourage questions about the goal and foresight of the breed. I do like how all of the pre and post foaling pictures of the mares were used, as well as the most gangly stages of the young horses. From Balou a few days before birth (showing the belly and sagging tail head) through a couple yearlings, and to Jinx within 48 hours of delivering a foal.
I can tell you that the Black bald faced mare down there is my own foundation horse. She barely passed the evaluation, with a 73%. In other words, she "squeaked in". Her foals though, have scored MUCH higher, with her last daughter receiving the 3rd highest score in the breed, when bred back to the old lines. That score is based upon how close the horse is to the Breed Standard. To many of us, it is also proof that the goal of the program is working. The long backed, goose rumped mare (yes, I'm well aware she's not perfect), when bred properly, produced a lovely sloped shouldered, long necked baby. You can see that foal laying on the ground in front of her dam.
The Sugarbush Draft Horse is not a heavy pulling horse, but they excel with carriage work and under saddle. Their temperament is such that they are wonderful for novice owners, and while drafty enough to carry a 300 pound man with ease, they are gentle and intelligent enough to be ridden by the children. They will never be the next Olympic Dressage champion, nor are they meant to. These horses fill a niche of the "jack of all trades" with the size and substance to accommodate riders who may like a bit more horse under them. Unfortunately, there are few horses for sale at this time, and most of those available are younger.
In 2013 we now have a total of 47 horses in the breed. An average of 12% of the horses who applied for Foundation evaluations (a free service) were accepted since 2009. We understand that not everyone will support our goal, nor agree with our breed, but we hope that those disagreements can be based upon fact, not slander from a biased source.
Last edited by SouthernTrails; 01-24-2013 at 07:57 AM.