On Oswego’s Koch Farm, Lea Ann Koch and her staff are breeding, raising and showing rare world-class Quarter Horses. Among numerous honors, Koch has earned four World Championship titles.
The Koch Farm began in the early 1960s when Dr. Howard Koch took over the farm and opened his equine veterinary clinic. Daughter, Lea Ann Koch, took over as owner after working alongside her dad her entire life.
“My dad wanted me to go to vet school like him,” Koch said. “I always helped him with surgery and grooming.” Koch explained that she was much more interested in the horses than in the schooling. “I was attending a horse show instead of my high school graduation,” she said.
Following her dad’s passing three years ago, Koch turned the farm’s breeding hobby into a business.
“I just love the breeding part of it and seeing the end result,” Koch said.
Between January and March 2012, Koch Farm welcomed 28 babies. Previously, they’d welcomed two or three babies each year. Koch said this year was, “On the verge of nuts.”
When the babies are born, people come from all over the country to purchase them, Koch said.
Koch said her farm determines “within minutes of birth” whether the horse will become a show horse.
At birth, her team determined Best To Be Me nicknamed Fanny would become a show horse.
“She came out looking like a three-month-old baby. She immediately stood up. It was like she said I’m here and I rule. She had the structure; she had everything. It was like this is it,” Koch described.
Koch described how her farm prepares her horses to be shown:
These horses are body builders and the judges look at the framework of their muscles and bone structure. Their hair must be shiny, smooth and short. Each day the horses are “ponied” to develop their muscle and tighten their bodies. They are also given the best feed to bring out the gloss in their coat, Koch explained.
“I was crying like a baby. My dad bought her mom when she was 30 days old. Fanny was the last baby with my dad and I both listed as the breeders. There are very few horses owned, bred and shown by the same person. It was very, very special,” she said.
“I wished Dad were there. I will remember that moment all my life,” Koch said.
There are 40-45 horses on the 20 acre farm and 3-8 of them are being conditioned for shows, Koch said.
“These horses are prima donnas,” Koch said. “They’ve never been ridden and never seen a saddle.”
Koch said her dad taught her many things, but she feels the most important is reciprocation.
“The horse industry gave us so much and I enjoy giving back,” she said.
Koch holds many positions in the horse industry including: the Kendall County Fair Board, the Illinois Quarter Horse Association and the Kendall County Horse Show Association, of which her parents were founding members.
“I just love horses,” Koch said. “I love to see a beautiful animal. I feel so proud to have raised it. It’s a great feeling of satisfaction,” she said.
Koch often donates extra eggs from her chickens to the Kendall County Food Pantry. She also has 14 acres of trees that she is giving away to anyone interested.
Koch Farm is located at 6274 Rte 34.