Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Really, Zippy?

Some days, I wonder what horses think. Do they spend all night thinking up new ways to hurt themselves? Okay, maybe it's only Zippy does this.
Plotting how to get out of work

 This summer and fall has been very trying; and as spoiled as I'm sure it makes me sound, I was very thankful to have more then one horse to ride.

Zippy had 3 or 4 abscesses in 6 weeks, which completely derailed our competition plans. Which is fine, he's only 5 and there's always next year.

After the 4th (ish) abscess, I had the farrier pull his shoes. We had put them back on after the first abscess was dug out as he has very thin soles and flat feet, and my farrier felt leaving his shoes on would be better for him. Once we pulled them, he actually seemed happier, so I think the shoe was preventing the abscess from fully draining.
So, after a couple weeks, I started him back into light work. Shortly after that, he was running around like an idiot in the field and misjudged the corner of a field as he was running around it, and smoked his hip off the post. Hard. Hard enough he broke the brace posts. All I could think was f*ck. That's gonna make him lame.
Running faster then he ever did on the track...

He seemed fine, no worse for wear, just a small cut on the hip. He was still only in light work, so I figured we'd work things out, and if he seemed sore I'd get the chiro in to see him.
Last week, he was having a harder time bending left, which is unlike him. He had hit his right hip, but I still figured it had something to do with it.  The farrier trimmed him this past Wed, and found a abscess in his left hind. Explains the lack of wanting to bend, but also shows me the personality of this horse. He tries so damn hard.

Yesterday, he came in with a small but decently deep cut on his lower jaw. I cleaned it up and treated it. I could kill this horse, I swear, he's an accident waiting to happen.
But then he gives me his cute look, and I just fall in love with him all over again.
How can you be mad at this face?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A horse of a lifetime

I have had quite a few horses pass through my farm since I began my business after I graduated college in 2010. I have had some really, really nice TB's that I wanted to hold on to, but the business side of me said I had to let them go.
May 2015 I got a text from a friend saying a contact of hers had a couple TB mares that needed a home. One she thought I would really like. She described her as a 5 y/o, roughly 16.3 mare, that was BIG. She had track trained as a yearling, but due to owner finances, never made it to the track. She came to this breeding farm, where she had a colt as a 4 y/o, but then didn't catch that year, or the spring of her 5 y/o year, so she needed to go. My friend said I needed to see this horse, that I wouldn't regret it. The picture she sent me wasn't the greatest, but she had yet to steer me wrong.

So off I went with my dad and my trailer, figuring I could restart this mare and sell her for decent money, if she was as nice as my friend said she was. We got to this farm, and it was huge. There were easily 100 horses there, including several really nice stallions. I was lead into a field of 30+ mares and introduced to this big, brown mare, with a long, tangled mane and horrible feet. I looked at her and thought, what's the worst that can happen? She's big boned, huge for a TB actually, and had such a kind eye on her. I handed the man some money, and lead the mare to my trailer. She hadn't been on a trailer in who knows how long, but up she got, no issues, and she didn't make a peep the whole way home.

She sat in the field for a month or so before I found the time to begin working with her. It didn't take long before I was on her back, and her lovely attitude never changed. We worked away for the summer, and come Thanksgiving weekend I took her to her first show, where she pinned very well in the hacks against good company, and went around like she had done this her whole life.

By that time, I had decided Lily would not be a resale, that I would keep her. I sold another gelding that I had planned on keeping instead.

Lily has come a long way since 2015. Last year, she completed her first season eventing at pre-entry level. This mare is so brave, she will jump anything I ask her to, but she likes to look at her surroundings on cross country, so we have really taken our time getting her confident in her job. This year, she upgraded to entry in August at Glenarden, and finished in fifth, despite half our division being eliminated because of horrible footing in show jumping and a very difficult cross country course. She won the Pre-Entry Open division at Championships in September at Caledon, my first ever win eventing, finishing on her dressage score. Then she put in two more amazing event at entry level.

Lily kicking ass in 40 degree weather in September

It is so amazing bringing a horse from the start; the difference in Lily's confidence is unreal, and I love knowing that I have been such a huge part of that. I don't think I've ever had such an enjoyable horse; she is wonderful to handle and be around, and she tries her heart out under saddle. She is not marish, she gives me 100% every time out, no matter the conditions. Our last event at Will O'Wind was very trying with the weather conditions, including huge wind and rain storms throughout the day, resulting in half the competitors calling it quits and going home, yet Lily came out and tried her best for me, jumping through puddles in show jumping and galloping through some high winds on cross country.

Cross country in a wind storm

I have had several coaches tell me this is a horse of a lifetime, and I am so excited to see where we might go. I am in no rush though; I want a horse that I trust to get us out of sticky situations on cross country, and one that knows her job inside and out. So if it takes us 5 years to get to Training level, I'm fine with that. Hell, I'm fine if it takes us 10 years. I'm enjoying the ride and the company of this wonderful mare.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The daily grind

Busy, busy day today, but I feel like I got a decent amount of things accomplished. As the season winds down, my horses are in lighter work, and I really enjoy hacking them out and starting the baby OTTBs back into light work. 
Lily is doing light dressage work and lots of walk hacks as I fight a fungus that has taken up residence on her right hind cannon. It showed up before our last event, Will O'Wind, but I didn't want to mess with it too much and make her sore, so we kept things at bay for a couple weeks until show season was over. Now I've been attacking it full force, but it is proving hard to figure out. I think I've finally found a combination that is working to dry it out and kill it: scrub with iodine, then cover with Blu-Kote spray (which I had no idea was anti-fungal until I talked to my friend who works at the feed store. Good to know!). The rain-rot like scabs seems to be drying up, and it's not nearly as sore to the touch as it was last week. Thankfully she hasn't been lame on it, and going for walks keeps the swelling down.
The view through Lily's ears

I'm bringing Zippy back in to light work; he was off for most of August and September with a HUGE abscess that just would not go away. It first appeared after his first show in August; he showed Sunday and on Wednesday he was lame. He has a history of abscesses so I was confident that's what it was. Two weeks of soaking and foot-wrapping later, and it still had not popped. Jon, our amazing farrier, came out and dug this massive abscess out, I just could not believe all the puss that was oozing out of the hole. I soaked and wrapped his foot for a week, then Jon came and put Zippy's shoe back on. Zippy has very flat, soft soled feet, so we felt that putting the shoe back on as soon as possible was the best course of action, and the abscess appeared to have fully drained. I gave him another week off to recover, and things seemed back to normal, so I began riding him again. That led to 2 weeks of the same schedule: I would ride him Thursday, Friday, he would have Saturday off, Sunday he would be 3 legged lame, abscess would pop again from the same spot Monday, by Wednesday he would be good as new. 
During all of this, my hopeful show schedule for Zippy was obviously out the window. I had hoped that he would debut in eventing at Touch A Rainbow unsanctioned, but it was not to be, so Lily took his place. Then I hoped he would be ready for a small combined test on Thanksgiving weekend, but he still was not feeling 100%. Luckily, or not, the show was cancelled and rescheduled for this Sunday. 
Jon came out at the beginning of October and pulled Zippy's shoes, and I was fully ready to let him chill until spring, but he has been feeling great so we've started back to light work and he's entered in the 2' division at the combined test this Sunday, assuming he feels good. 
Jon dug another small abscess out of Zippy's left hind today, which was a surprise to me as he's been working really well this week, but I'm glad we seem to be getting his feet semi-sorted out. I think it'll be a process of figuring out how to keep him happiest; Jon and I have discussed shoes and pads next spring, but we'll see what the winter does for Zippy's feet.

Tom has also been doing a bit more work. He went for his first hack on Monday with Vinnie for company, and was wonderful. He didn't put a foot wrong, though he was pretty sure he was not made to go up and down hills and that it was way too much work. I had a young woman and her coach come try him this morning, and again, he was lovely and tried hard for them. He is such a sweetheart of a horse, I think he's going to make someone very happy. 
Tom making sure I'm sure he needs to work this hard
Tomorrow is Friday and Eve is getting her tendon ultrasounded; fingers crossed all goes well and she has a new mom by the end of the day! 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Respecting others

I'm probably going to get slammed for this, but it is one of my biggest pet peeves, and it happens more then it should. Not just in the equine industry, but in life in general.

Last week, I spent several hours talking with a young woman about Tom, who she was interested in purchasing. She asked all the normal questions, then everything else one could think of. In the end, she made an appointment to see him on the 21 at noon.
Friday came around, and I messaged her to confirm. Didn't hear anything back, so I had to assume she was coming on Saturday. As I said before, I don't live on my farm, so I have to be sure I'm there if someone might be coming, meaning taking both kids with me because Mike was working.

We went about our day, and of course, she didn't show up. I didn't think she would, but it doesn't irritate me any less. I spent several hours total out of my day to speak with her and answer any questions she may have about Tom, yet she couldn't take 2 seconds out of her day to say she wasn't coming. Later on that day, she messaged me that she had purchased a horse and wasn't seeing Tom (obviously).

People don't seem to give a rat's a$$ about other's time anymore. If it doesn't affect them, they don't care. My father is in the same boat: he runs an auto repair shop, and the number of times people make appointments and then not show up, or show up hours later, is ridiculous.

This is my business; I am potentially losing the sale to someone else every time I schedule a block of time for you not to show up. It's time lost riding other horses, doing farm maintenance, and spending time with my family on a Saturday.

That's my rant. I know a lot of people will say I shouldn't air my dirty laundry, but maybe this will make one person realize that they're actions have consequences.

Friday, October 20, 2017


I feel that a lot of people really don't understand how much time and work it takes to run a farm. Everyone assumes that because you have your own place, it's soooo much easier to have horses and spend time with them, when in reality, the majority of your time is spent cleaning up after them.

I also have another job off the farm, which means that sometimes I have very little day light to do things that need being done. While I'm lucky in my job in that I sometimes finish work at noon, I'm also unlucky in that I don't know when I'm going to finish until I do. My hours are very sporadic, and some days I will finish at noon, while other days I go until 6 pm. This makes it hard to plan things, but I'm very lucky to have awesome, understanding clients.

This past Tuesday, I was lucky to have a day off from my off-farm job. Since I had competed at Will O'Wind horse trials on Sunday, where it poured rain all day, then worked all day Monday and taught lessons in the evening, my barn was quite messy by my standards: there were clothes, equipment and blankets hanging from every available spot, trying to dry them out from Sunday. I was looking forward to having a day to organize things again and get other small tasks done, and was hoping to squeeze in a ride or two at some point.

I also live about 30 min away from my farm, so commuting time is always a killer. I had some errands to run in the morning, so I arrived at the farm a little later then planned. All the horses live out, so I don't have to rush to be there to let them out in the morning, which makes things easier on me. When I arrived, I spent an hour or so organizing everything in the barn; cleaning what needed to be cleaned, making a pile of laundry, putting things back in my tack trunk that stays in the trailer. After that was finished, my dad and I washed the horse trailer, which was covered in mud from Sunday. My dad has rubbed off on me over the years and I like to keep things clean, especially the trailer. It keeps it smelling nice, the flies stay away, and it holds value for longer. By the time that was finished, two fields needed hay, so we fed everyone, and then went up for lunch.

I had the farrier coming at 1 to reset Lily's shoes and do a couple trims. I also had someone coming to see Eve, a 3 y/o OTTB filly that had arrived last week to be sold. Jon, the farrier, finished Lily's feet and one trim when the woman arrived to see Eve. I handed the next horse off to my dad to hold for Jon and went out to speak with the potential buyer. She LOVED Eve, and I mean, what's not to love? This filly is built like a brick house, has beautiful movement, and is a total cuddle bug. She is pending sale, and I've got my fingers crossed, as this would be a top notch home for her.


The farrier had finished up with the horses, so I had just enough time to get everyone fed before my first of two lessons arrived for the evening. 
In the meantime, my awesome mother had picked up my step-kids from school and brought them home, as their father was working late harvesting. I'm so so so lucky to have such great help and support from my parents to be able to do what I do.

Once lessons finished up, it was dark, so all I could do was tidy up the barn for the evening, and head to the house to have what was left over from dinner, then go home to get the kids to bed.

It's a great life, and I wouldn't change it for the world, but sometimes I wish I could hire some help, as I feel like a lot of the time my horses have to take a backseat to everything else. There is still so much to do before winter, but I have a couple weekends planned in November with my other half to get things finished. 

Vinnie in the sunset. PC Joanne Molesky

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Touch A Rainbow HT

On September 24 we set out to Touch A Rainbow Horse Trials in Brockville at Terelisa Farm. Terelisa holds two horse trials a year, and the last few years they've had an unsanctioned event, this being it. I had hoped to bring Zippy for his first event, as their pre-entry course is pretty inviting, but it was not to be, as he has been plagued with abscesses this summer. I was committed to go with a student riding my step-daughter's pony, Cross, so I figured I might as well right as well, and entered Lily in the entry level.

September had been pretty normal weather wise, and the weekend before the event had been downright cold. I had actually had to break out my winter jacket. The forecast for the event day was 32 C, feeling like 40 with the humidity. We packed lots of water and bags of ice to be sure we would be able to keep the horses cool, and I body clipped Cross, as she was very hairy.

We picked up my friend Tori and her mare Penny on the way as well, and met another friend, Dana, 
with her horse Archie, at the event. 

Lily came off the trailer chill and ready to go, like she always does. It's so nice to have such an easy going horse, I can really concentrate on riding her properly instead of just trying to survive. 
Lily doesn't get turned out with Cross, but she tends to bond to whoever is on the trailer with her. We went over to dressage to warm up, and she was warming up beautifully, then as soon as we went down the center line, she tensed right up and started calling for Cross. We had a few bad moments of the test, but overall it was really nice and I was very happy with Lily. Because she's such a big horse, she's always had issues keeping herself balanced and using her hind end, but this year things seem to really be coming together. Our downwards transitions are getting more balanced, and I don't feel like we land in such a heap all the time. 

When it was time for show jumping, we walked over to warm up. Lily always surprises me, because she walks over to warm up like she has zero energy and I always worry she's going to be dead. Then I pick up my reins and she's all business. She warmed up nicely, jumped a few jumps well, so we had another walk break. The gate person called me on deck, so I picked up my reins for another canter to wake Lily up; put my leg on for the canter transition, and she jumped into canter and bucked probably 6 times in a row. She used to do this last year when she was excited, so I figured our round would be interesting. We went into the show jump ring, halted for our salute, and as soon as I put my leg on, she bounded right into the canter, ready to go. She was incredibly strong around the whole course, very confident in herself and what she was doing, which isn't always a good thing with her. We had 3 rails as she just was so excited she was running through my aids, but she also had some really nice moments. And like always, once finished, she walked calmly back to the trailer. I gave her an ice bath and put her in the shade, and she seemed to be quite happy with herself.

An hour or so later, we walked out to warm up for cross country. I did a super short warm up as it was so hot, and Lily doesn't usually need a ton of work after show jumping. She's been getting more and more confident XC; she's a different type of horse for me, I'm really not used to such a push ride. This is her second season eventing, and I've taken it very slow with her. She has no issues with the jumps themselves (generally speaking), but is very looky at everything else around her: jump judges, scenery, trees and bushes. She's beginning to really understand her job now, and is really fun to ride. There were two fences on course that I was a bit worried about: #3 was a weird looking log/tree trunk that was painted and had a bunch of rocks shoved under it with some gravel in front of it. Lily can sometimes look at changes of terrain, though she is getting better, I'm always ready to give her that extra encouragement. The other fence I was worried about was #4; it's a steeplechase style fence placed a few strides before you enter the forest, so the light changes quite suddenly, and it's also very large. Entry level is 2'9", but with the brush, this fence is 3'6". 
Lily jumped the first fence beautifully, the second was a little sketchy as she was looking at the decorative wings, the third was difficult for her as I had thought, though she still went first try. It was a straight line from 3 to 4, so I just rode very confidently, and she popped over that big brush jump like it wasn't even there. No issues. The rest of the course rode lovely, minus getting lost in the woods/maze twice. We even came in super under time, which is very unlike us, but I was super proud. We always have issues with time because Lily likes to look and I never rush her, so to come in so fast just really had me happy that she was indeed getting confident enough to begin to gallop around. I was so proud of her.

We finished the day in third. 
Michaela and Cross completed their first event, so I was super happy for them as well. Even though they were technically eliminated because bad pony jumped out of the dressage ring, the organizer was nice enough to let them finish. Cross is not an easy pony to ride and Michaela does a great job with her. 
Tori and Penny finished 1st in the training level division. Penny is a horse that Tori bought from me a few years ago, and she has done so much work with her, so it's really awesome to see things working out for them!

Michaela and Cross over the last fence

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Time to introduce myself

This is my first time blogging, so I'm not sure how things will go, but I've been thinking about doing this for a long time. I don't really care if anyone reads it, I just feel the need to get my thoughts down on paper (or computer screen) and get my frustrations out sometimes, however I never seem to have the desire to sit down and write them out by hand.

My name is Katie Buxton, I'm a 27 y/o female from Ontario, Canada. I run a boarding, lessons, sales and training business called Buxton Equestrian out of my family farm, specializing in OTTB's. I currently have 7 of my own horses, and 5 boarders, which keeps me pretty busy. 

My horses are as follows:

Vinnie is a 2001 Appendix AQHA gelding, my first love and my first event horse. He is now semi-retired and enjoys doing a few w/t lessons per week. He is the king of the farm, and likes things to be done his way or he will let you know that he isn't happy.

Bella is a 2006 OTTB mare. I competed her to pre-training eventing before deciding that I just wasn't enjoying riding her much anymore. She is very hot and sensitive, and her flat work was just going down the drain, making the dressage phase of eventing very stressful. She was on a breeding lease spring 2017 that didn't work out, so I'm trying to decide what to do with her next year.

Lily is a 2010 OTTB mare. We are currently competing entry level, and have worked very hard to get to where we are. I purchased Lily as a 5 y/o from a breeding farm where she had a foal as a 4 y/o but then didn't catch again. She hadn't been ridden since her track training as a late yearling, so we have taken our time getting the basics down and it seems to be paying off. I love this horse and am very hopeful for our future!

Zippy is a 2012 OTTB gelding. He arrived in the summer of 2016, and our journey has been full of ups and downs. I love him to death, but he is very quirky and still trying to get over some of his track memories. He has been plagued with abscesses this year, so our plans didn't exactly work out. I am hopeful that a winter of rest will help and he comes out swinging next year!

Tom is a 2014 OTTB gelding. I purchased him spring 2017 from Finger Lakes Racetrack in New York. He is a resale project, but man is he ever a sweetie. He has been enjoying down time, relaxing and growing, and I've been puttering around with him, doing a little of everything and not much of anything. He is still such a baby so I try not to fry his little brain too much.
Cross with her teenage rider, Michaela

Then I have the ponies, Bronco and Cross. Bronco is a 20 y/o 12.2 Haflinger X gelding, who I use for lessons. Tucker has also claimed him as his, although he doesn't do a whole lot of riding. Cross is a 19 y/o Welsh X pony mare, who is Piper's. She also does a few lessons. I love both these ponies, they have so much attitude but teach the kids so much.

I live 30 min away from my farm with my fiance, Mike, and his two kids, Tucker and Piper. We have a little house in town, and it's nice to have my own space away from the farm sometimes. We have a dog, Oakley, who is a Kijiji mutt and one of the best dogs I've ever had. 

I think that's a decent introduction for now; we'll see what tomorrow brings.

25 Questions, stolen from The $900 Facebook Pony

I saw this blog post on The $900 Facebook Pony , and I love these things, and I haven't been blogging much, so I thought I would give i...