Breed Standard

The ASHDA Breed standard is the ideal to which all horses in the registry are compared. Horses coming in as Improvement Stock or Approved Crosses are scored against the standard in order to evaluate whether they would make worthwhile additions to the registry. While a horse as close to the standard as possible is preferred, it is understood that some comformational ideals cannot be produced all at once. Some areas of the standard are valued more greatly than others, especially in cases of structural integrity. For example, a horse with an ideal body and a sub-par head and neck will be scored higher than a horse with an ideal head and neck and sub-par body. We appreciate any horse that displays an ideal trait, but the bigger picture is always more important than a singular trait.

Breed Standard:

15.2 h.h. to 17 h.h. but height should not disqualify an otherwise good example of "type".

Any base color is acceptable, with LP (leopard complex) pattern or characteristics being preferred, but not required if the horse meets all the other bloodline or conformation requirements . Solids are acceptable. Pinto-type or excessive white markings; Tobiano, Frame Overo, Splash as well as Dominant White are prohibited. If two horses are equal in all ways then a judge should grade the horse with LP expression higher as it is closer to the ideal.

The body should be wide and deep. The back should not be too long, and should be strong with muscular loins and rounded hips. The shoulders should be sloping, deep and muscular. The topline should be shorter than the underline. Ideally, hip and wither height should be equal, without too much of a slope toward the center of the back. A horse that is slightly uphill is not to be penalized, however a downhill topline is to be considered a fault. The quarters should be level, powerful, long and oval, the tail springing well from the quarters. The loin should be short, wide and strongly muscled. This portion of the back should be short and as wide as possible, and the ribs long, well sprung and close together.

Head and Neck:
The head characteristic of the breed should be bold and not too small with a profile that is flat or slightly convex. The neck should be of moderate length, with a well-defined throatlatch and break into the chest, muscular yet not too thick, arched and well laid into the shoulder. The head should set into the neck at the right angle. A good head, neck and shoulders denote character, giving the animal a good outlook.

Eyes should be large, well set and kindly in expression. Any eye color is acceptable including but not limited to, brown, blue, hazel, green and amber or any combination thereof.

Tend to be large and fine, slightly longer on mares.

Shoulders and Forearm:
The shoulders should be moderately sloped and provide a sufficient collar bed and room for extreme extension at a trot or gallop. The shoulders should be fairly wide, well-muscled, and the top should be carried close to and tapered into, the back. The forearm of the American Sugarbush Harlequin Draft should be comparatively short, wide and muscular. This places the leg sufficiently under the body to provide the desirable position and action. The knee, viewed from the front, should be broad and flat, tapering to the cannon and, when viewed from the side, should be straight from the shoulder to the fetlock joint. The tendon at the back of the knee should contribute to give depth and strength.

The Limbs:
The cannon of the fore leg should be long, wide, lean and flat as viewed from the side. The tendons should show prominently. Feathering is not as heavy or long as other draft breeds. The fetlock should be wide, when viewed from the side, and narrow viewed from the front, fine and well directed. The pastern should be sloping at an angle to complement the shoulder angle, so as to relieve concussion in the course of action.

The Feet:
The feet must be sound and healthy. A good hoof wall, with wide open heels and strong quarters, is preferred; otherwise a horse may have a tendency to develop unsoundness. Hooves can be dark, light or striped. Feet that are shallow or narrow are undesirable. Hooves should be large, and well balanced in proportion to the bone of the horse’s leg with an angle complementary to the slope of the pastern.

The Chest:
The chest of the American Sugarbush Harlequin Draft should be deep, wide, low and of large girth, indicating strong constitution with ample space for vital organs and deep breathing.

The Hindquarters:
The hind quarters are source of driving power. The hips should be wide, but in harmony with general body proportions and well-muscled. The croup should not be flat when viewed from the side, but instead rounded and blending into the coupling and dock without any sharpness. It is important that the tail be attached high.

The Hindlegs:
The gaskin should be short, but heavily muscled. The hock is one of the most important points of the horse, as it is in this joint that the strain on the muscles, during action, is concentrated. The hock, should be broad, viewed from the side, and flat, viewed from the front, its ball joint being well rounded, and the joint as a whole, when viewed from the side should be well supported by a wide cannon below. The hock should be turned in slightly, and have a good angulation, so as not to be post legged, nor make the horse appear camped out. The hocks should not show fullness or swelling. The hind cannons, like the front ones, should be broad when viewed from the side and thin when viewed from the front. They should be perpendicular, in line with the hind quarters. The hind fetlocks, as in the case of the front ones, should be wide, whilst the pasterns are less oblique than those of the fore legs. The hind feet are somewhat smaller than the front ones, not as round, but with good hoof heads and wide open heels. The hind legs, like the front ones, should be set into the body, not on the outside of the quarters, but well under, so that the muscles on the quarters project wider than the muscles on the thighs. The toes of the hind feet should incline slightly outward. There should be a good length from the point of the hock to the ground.

The Action:
The action of the American Sugarbush Harlequin Draft should be even, the hind and fore action should be in unison. There should be no hint of paciness or ambling. The hind feet should be planted forward as deliberately as the forefeet, which should be evenly carried forward. At the walk, the hind foot should cover the imprint of the front foot at a minimum. Short stepping is a fault in the working horse. The hocks should be turned slightly inward. In trotting, the American Sugarbush Harlequin Draft should show good suspension and extension with no tendency toward racking or gaited movement. The canter should be measured and powerful without any suggestion of clumsiness or stiltedness.