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Sunset Equine Farm
Los Angeles rehab and retirement farm provides good life for horses and easy visiting for owners.
West Coast hunter/jumper competitors know Kathryn Burdett as a tough and tough-to-beat competitor in the amateur jumper ranks. But the accomplished young equestrian has a soft side too, and the smarts to put that aspect of her personality to great professional use as proprietor of the rehabilitation and retirement facility, Sunset Equine Farm.
“I love competing, but my love for horses is not just about that,” explains Kathryn. “It’s more based in the everyday interactions with them. I love figuring out how to solve a horse’s problem, learning their personalities and helping them recover.”
Sunset Equine Farm sits on five acres of flat, pepper-tree shaded land in Shadow Hills, a quiet residential neighborhood just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Burbank. The property was originally developed as a training facility for Kathryn and her father Ron, also an amateur jumper competitor. The seeds of its shift in purpose were planted a few years back when one of Kathryn’s jumpers needed colic surgery at the Chino Equine Hospital.
“When we brought the horse back for the 60 day check-up, the vet was very impressed with the care we’d given the horse,” Kathryn recounts. “He said, ‘Nobody ever does exactly what we tell them to do.’” That experience led to referrals that became Sunset Equine Farm’s first clients.
Since then, Sunset Equine has helped horses recover from a variety of problems: suspensories, bowed tendons, colic surgeries, to name a few. “We’ve seen it all,” says Kathryn. She administers the care herself with help from assistant Jose Gonzalez and four grooms who take note “when even a hair is out of place” on one of their charges, Kathyrn adds. Mom Karen Burdett “keeps everyone together emotionally,” says her grateful daughter. “She is the epitome of the great horse show mom.”
Hands On Horsemanship
Kathryn’s horsemanship education has been of the hands-on variety. “I was fortunate to have begun my riding with trainer DiAnn Langer. She is an amazing horsewoman and I learned a lot by observation. Through the years, I’ve collected information by going through many issues with my own horses, and watching what the vets are doing.”
Each rehab patient arrives with its own set of instructions from its veterinarian and it is Kathryn’s job to implement the treatment. Care specifics vary from taking temperatures throughout the day, wrapping legs and giving shots to return to work regimens that can range from precisely timed walks on the European EuroXciser to under saddle schooling for horses almost ready to return to the show ring.
Sunset Equine has room for 30 horses. Stabling possibilities include box stalls with paddocks and half-covered paddocks. The property features two large turn-outs, two smaller turn-outs and a big grass pasture. Riding spaces include a 150’ by 200’ arena and a trail that runs around the grounds.
Rehabbing horses is rewarding work, but Kathryn admits a soft spot for caring for Sunset Equine’s retirees, who make up approximately 60 percent of its clientele. “I’m always happy for our rehab horses when they are ready to go back to their owners,” she says. “The retirement horses are with us for a long time. I tend to feel like they are my own.”
These senior equine citizens typically spend four hours a day in turn-outs. They are groomed daily and to the point that “you can’t tell a retired horse from our show horses,” Kathryn says.
As a regular on the hunter/jumper show circuit, Kathryn gets many clients through word of mouth. In addition to providing careful, loving and individualized care in a beautiful setting, Sunset Equine has a location that has been a big draw for many horse owners. Near the junction of the 5 and 210 freeways, the Farm is within easy visiting distance for most owners in Southern California. Kathyrn notes with warm pride that Sunset Equine’s first retirement tenant has been visited every evening by his owner throughout his two years there.
Kathryn and her fiancé, Roger live on the property. When she is not caring for her rehab and retirement charges, Kathryn schools her jumpers with help from trainer Santiago Rickard, who visits regularly. Competing in the High Amateur-Owner Jumper division with consistently solid successes, Kathyrn hopes to enter the lower grands prix when the time is right. With Sunset Equine Farm business booming, and a December wedding to her fiancé looming, that time may be a ways off. “Right now I’m really enjoying the horses that I have, and getting the business moving forward,” she says.
For more information on Sunset Equine Farm, please call 818 352 3077.