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Happy Tail - Rose, a very memorable Percheron Mare

The big Percheron Mare has crossed Rainbow Bridge. She had been - at least in her mind - the beloved at every event in Connecticut. She came to Kentucky in 2005, and earned quite a reputation with her lovable antics, including a sensual episode in the middle of Sparksville Road, chalked up to 'sex education' by the tolerant father in the family which passed by and witnessed the romantic rendezvous. She's gone now, this icon of Sugarfoot Farm, who leaves lots of friends and fond memories. Click on headline for full story, photo(s)
The next earlier Happy Tail: A win at Ballyhigh horse show and a little me time Posted July 6, 2014.

By Peg Schaeffer

When Keith and I first starting dating I tried to get him to go horseback riding with me but he always said I didn't have a horse big enough for him to ride. So when I saw an ad about a Percheron mare for sale I called. Looking back it's kind of funny - she was in Columbia, CT. I asked the owners why she was being sold and they told me they had a romantic notion to have her pull a buggy and they would drive around town with her. Problem was she was a gassy horse and the whole time they'd be in the cart she'd be passing gas in their faces. Not so romantic. She was in a stall eating hay contentedly - a huge bay mare. It was love at first sight and Rose came to live with us.

Draft horses are known as Gentle Giants

Draft horses are known as "Gentle Giants" and Rose was that. She was so kind. We didn't have a saddle with a girth big enough to go around her so Keith would ride her bareback. It was easy though because it was like sitting on your living room couch. Her back was wide and so comfortable. The kids used to do gymnastics on her back.

Every year Sugarfoot Farm would have an open house. We would have a dunking booth, games, free T-shirts, and refreshments. The biggest treat was pony rides for the kids and the adults would ride Rose. Since Rose was so high we would set up a step ladder next to her and riders would climb on her back. They would ride her around the ring and dismount so someone else could get on. But getting off of Rose was harder than getting on. It was a long way down and not so easy. One time a BIG woman got on Rose and Keith was trying to help her off. She slipped but had a soft landing. Keith fell and she ended up on him.

One year at an open house a friend brought a coworker with her. He loved horses and Rose became his idol. He brushed her and groomed her mane and tail. He cleaned her hooves and made them shine. Even after the Open House he came often to brush Rose and ride her. He had a saddle with a girth that would actually go around her fat belly.

Rose pranced around as if this fair was being held on her behalf

Paul decided to ride Rose at the Brooklyn Fair Horse Show. He cleaned her up and she looked beautiful. We loaded her in the trailer with the other horses and off we went. Rose hadn't been off the farm since we'd bought her. When she stepped off the trailer at the fair she arched her neck and pranced around as if this fair was being held on her behalf.

Paul rode her in three classes and she pinned higher in each one. She got a fifth, a fourth, and then a third. She carried herself so proud and her coat shined. After the horse show we put the horses away and walked around the fair grounds - but not Paul. He stayed at the trailer with Rose. When we got back there was Paul leading Rose with a child on her back. Turns out he was giving kids rides on Rose and she was a star. She walked carefully knowing she had precious cargo on her back.

Rose was crowd favorite even if she could make sharp barrel race turns

Two weeks later Keith and Paul rode her at the Haddam Neck Fair. Keith took her in the Barrel Race. The ground thundered as she galloped around each barrel. But she was so big she couldn't make the sharp turns like the other horses so she never placed. But she did make a huge impression on everyone. Paul had better luck with her. He took her in Adult Walk Trot and won first or second place in each class and he and Rose were the champions.

Every year at Christmas time we would cut down a tree on the farm. We would go to the back of our land on horseback and search for the perfect tree. We always ended up with a Charlie Brown Christmas tree but it was tradition. One year one of the girls who rode with us, Olivia Marandola, who was 9 at the time, wanted to go with me to cut a tree. It was snowing out - perfect weather for finding a tree. I put a bridle on Rose and climbed on.

Memories of the hunt for the Perfect Christmas Tree remain to this day

Keith lifted Olivia on her back behind me. She wrapped her arms around my waist and off we went. It's so quiet and peaceful in the woods when it's snowing. As we hit the branches of the fir trees we were showered with snow. Rose's hooves crunched the snow. It's one of my favorite memories. Another year at Christmas time our local feed store was having photos with Santa. We loaded Rose up in the horse trailer and took her. Santa Claus was more than happy to pose with Rose who wore a Santa's cap dangling off of her ear.

Rose thanked everyone for holding the Independence Day Parade in her honor

The last year we were in Connecticut five of us rode in the Independence Day Parade. Paul rode Rose and again she thanked everyone for coming to the parade that was being held in her honor. There was no doubt in Rose's mind that everyone came to the parade just to see her. My Quarter Horse stallion, Blue, was smitten with Rose. (You know how men like those big women.) He would try to charm her every chance he got. And she returned his advances with a nicker and a bat of her eyes. We tried to breed her to Blue several times but she always lost the foal in the early stages. Motherhood was not in her stars.

'We brought Rose to Kentucky and she loved it

We brought Rose to Kentucky and she loved it. We hadn't been here long and Keith was transporting horses one morning when I heard the dogs barking. Rose had gotten out of her pasture and walked to the other end of the farm to talk to the stallions. Our palomino stallion, Cody, was closest to the road so she went to his corral and starting teasing him. He couldn't resist and jumped the fence. By the time I got outside they were in the middle of the road making a baby. Rose had planted her feet and wasn't moving. Cody wasn't going anywhere either. A car pulled up and was unable to pass since Rose and Cody were taking up the middle of the road.

'Here I was, new to the area, and here were my horses,
making love in the middle of the road, blocking traffic;

I was so embarrassed. Here I was, new to the area, and here were my horses, making love in the middle of the road, blocking traffic. Inside the car were a husband and wife with their two children in the back seat. When Rose and Cody finished I was able to get them to move to the side of the road and as the car passed I shrugged my shoulders and apologized. They brushed it off, laughed, and said "sex education." What a great first impression we made. The winters weren't as cold in Kentucky as in Connecticut so Rose was never stalled. She had a run in shed for shelter and could come and go as she pleased. We often rode her on the trails. She started to show her age a few years ago. She couldn't race up the hills like she used to and she would tire easily. But she would still plod along. And she was still the beautiful Rose, huge and glistening. Keith always doted on her - taking extra special care of his girl.

Scratching on round bales of hay, which she loved, led to her demise

Rose loved to scratch her butt on the round bales of hay. She would back up to them and rub away. Her lips would move around in pleasure and she backed into the bale. Sometimes as the roll got smaller she would straddle it to rub her belly. Unfortunately that was her demise. This Tuesday while Rose was scratching her belly she lost her balance and fell down. She got wedged between the hay and the fence and couldn't get up. As soon as Keith saw she was in trouble he took the fence down so she could get up. Try as she did she just couldn't get back up. Dr. King came out and helped us. She was on an incline so he and Keith towed her to level ground but by this time she had exhausted herself. She couldn't even lift her head and still struggled to get up. She died during the night. She was 29 years old. She's buried in the pasture she loved so much.

Rose was one of our icons

We'll miss Rose. She was one of our icons. She leaves lots of friends and many fond memories. I know she's crossed the Rainbow Bridge and is with Blue. He's still charming her and she's nickering away at him. Enjoy the green grass big girl. - Peg Schaeffer

Peg Schaeffer, Sugarfoot Farm Rescue, 860 Sparksville Road, Columbia, KY 42728 Telephone: home 270-378-4521 or cell 270-634-4675 email:

This story was posted on 2014-07-13 11:57:36
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Peg Schaeffer, Olivia Marandola riding Rose in 2005

2014-07-13 - Connecticut - Photo submitted by Peg Schaeffer. This photo is is of me and Olivia Marandola riding Rose Christmas eve 2005 during a snowstorm while looking for the "perfect tree". This is one of my favorite memories of our big hearted Percheron mare. - PEG SCHAEFFER
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