Local equestrian luminary retiring, selling her farm



By Ron Giofu


It’s the end of an era in the local equestrian world.

NovaRosemary O’Connell, who has owned and operated Nova Equestrian Centre for the past 19 years, has sold the equestrian training and boarding facility to one of her former students and is calling it a career.

“I’m in my 70’s,” said O’Connell. “Everyone’s entitled at that age, I think.”

O’Connell came to Canada in 1988 with youngest daughter Julie after running a successful riding school near Dublin. Asked to get one started in Windsor, she did so before the opportunity at what is now Nova Equestrian Centre opened up. It was a quarter-horse breeding farm, she said.

“We started it as an equestrian centre.”

The business has been sold to Jessica Buterbaugh, whom O’Connell has confidence will carry on the business and tend to the horses.

“I wouldn’t have retired if I didn’t have a person to help care for them properly,” said O’Connell.

Born in England, O’Connell said she has ridden horses most of her life. Her son still has the business in Dublin, albeit in a different location, and also still show jumps.

Nova Equestrian Centre has produced many riders that have done well, including one that lives in France and has a chance at being selected for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. However, it’s seeing all the kids enjoy being around horses which has given O’Connell great joy.

“To me, it’s the total pleasure the average kid gets every week which is really my joy,” she stated.

The horses are also another one of her pleasures as they are the reason for her being in business so long.

“They are amazing ponies,” she said. “They give their best every day.”

O’Connell said she will miss the children but the group of horses she had will also be close to her heart.  She said she is happy to retire as she still has her health and is emphasized she is comfortable leaving the horses with Buterbaugh.

Buterbaugh officially takes over Sept. 12 but O’Connell said she does not have firm plans yet for her retirement. She said her daughter Julie is now a veterinarian in New Zealand and she may travel there to visit her.

Buterbaugh said O’Connell will always be welcome at Nova.

“She’ll definitely be around,” she said.

Buterbaugh started as a young student at the Smith Side Road-based equestrian centre and developed “a lifetime of experience with horses” by working with multiple Olympic coaches throughout North America. She is also a registered veterinary technician.

“I am very fortunate to be able to take over such a wonderful business where Rosemary and Julie O’Connell have taught me so much,” she said. “Their passion and skill have been an inspiration for me and I am happy to continue working with the great clients of Nova and build on the strong tradition that has been established. There is so much to be gained in working with and riding horses. Nova Equestrian Centre will continue to be a place in the community that is highly respected for the pride, sense of accomplishment, discipline, fitness and fun horse riding and care that is brought to our clients.”

Soon to turn 23-years-old, Buterbaugh appreciates the opportunity she is being given.

“At my age, it’s huge,” she said.

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