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Farm History

The history of the 173 acre farm which came to be known as Ox Kill Farm, began with its purchase by Gene McCaffrey in 1969. The name Ox Kill may sound like an onerous name for a breeding farm, but here in eastern NY, which was settled by the Dutch in the 1600's, kill means creek. The Ox Kill forms the western boundary of the property. Less than a year after the farm was purchased, Gene, who began his work as a conservation biologist working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in 1960, married Vicky, a practicing small animal veterinarian and recent graduate of the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine. With all that land the two decided that the next logical step was to get involved with animals! A wedding present, in the form of a Golden Retriever joined a team of oxen on the property, and was the first of many Goldens to call the farm home.

There was still something missing however, and it didn't take long to figure out what it was. Vicky had had a passion for horses since her youth, and was an accomplished rider, and Gene had a serious interest in practical farming. The two compromised and decided to get involved with draft horses. The rarity of the Shire breed appealed to the couple and they imported their first Shire from England in the Spring of 1974, a bred gray mare named Alneland Countess. The mare arrived just as the family's first daughter Cristy, born in 1973, began to walk. The couple began showing Countess in the summer of 1974, a tradition which has continued every year since, and over the years developed from a single halter horse into a nine horse string of halter and hitch Shires. In the first years they began showing, the couple were instrumental in the development of Shire only classes at local shows throughout New York State. Countess' first foal, Ox Kill King arrived in early April of 1975, and was sold as a yearling. Gene and Vicky also joined the American Shire Horse Association in 1974 and in 1976 Gene was elected for the first time to the Board of Directors, where he has served regularly since, including terms as president and treasurer. Aside from their life membership in the ASHA, both Gene and Vicky are life members of the the Shire Horse Society in England and Gene is also a life member of the Canadian Shire Horse Association.

 Their second daughter Erin arrived in the summer of 1976 (on Gene's birthday!). The same year she arrived, the couple purchased Folly Farm Grey Forrester, who was the first gray Shire stallion to stand at stud in modern times in the US. Ox Kill Duke, Countess' second foal, sired by Sarnland Hainton Warrant, was also born in 1976, but was soon sold. Though several foals were born in the intervening years, the true start of the Ox Kill breeding program came in late 1980's with the purchase of Walker House Surprise (1986), Lychett Ash Lady Diana (1987), and Gayton Sunset (1989). These three mares produced countless foals sired by Forrester and Duke, who rejoined the herd in 1986, and good quality mares were kept each year until a substantial herd of brood mares was established, including the champion Duke daughter Ox Kill Koorahana. The loss of Forrester in Detroit to colic was one of life's great tragedies, but along with it came the purchase of Dua He Chi's Roscoe in 1993. Roscoe proved to be a fierce competitor in the show ring, just as his predecessor had been, and also sired many outstanding foals including two of their most successful hitch mares, Ox Kill Minnie Pearl and Ox Kill Madam Sophia. In 1996 Metheringham Upton Isaac was imported from England, and without missing a beat became a star in the show ring, taking one Canadian and two American National Championships among his many other accolades. The senior stallion Leapley Deighton Cardinal joined Isaac and Roscoe as a herd sire in 2007, and the three stallions, along with eight broodmares and a handful of youngsters make up the 15 Shire herd that calls Ox Kill Farm home today.

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This picture, taken in 1996, is one of our favorites. Here you see four generations of mares, with great-grandmother on the far left, followed by daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter. From left to right is Walker House Surprise, Ox Kill Surprise Minneapolis, Ox Kill Koorahana, and Ox Kill Dream Come True. Surprise, was one of the three mares who were highly influential in the development of our current brood stock, and Minnie and Koora continued her legacy through the production of several top quality foals here at the farm. Trudy was purchased at weaning by Mike and Jane Stefaniak of Shadow Brook Shires in Perth, ON, CA where she still resides today!