5 minutes with Katy Dixon
Katy Dixon’s horse Amber suffered a nasty broken leg in 2015 and many life-threatening illnesses (including colitis, toxic shock and salmonella) during her recovery that followed.
With much support, Katy worked tirelessly to save her horse’s life, documenting every step along the way – details she’s now published in her book ‘Forever Amber’.
We caught up with Katy to find out more about her incredible story.
On your website there's a lovely message from Innocent– who else has been part of Amber’s story?
Innocent were a fantastic part of our journey, when Amber was really ill she just wouldn’t eat anything and this was the biggest part of our battle. We desperately had to get some solid foods into her so that the biosponge (we were administering this several times a day) could bind any food in her stomach and therefore help to fight her illnesses. So I bought some apple juice as another attempt to try and get her to eat (this so happened to be innocent apple juice) and poured some on her hard feed. The strong smell and sweet scent encouraged Amber to start eating some normal horse feed again which was fantastic. This continued for several weeks! I wrote to innocent about our story and how their apple juice had helped so much and they kindly sent us a lovely letter and several vouchers for Amber!
Another great brand that really helped us was Back on Track products, I used their exercise sheet during the time that Amber was being brought back into work to help her muscles warm up correctly during her rehabilitation process. I then again got in contact with Back on Track to tell them about our success using their products and they amazingly decided to sponsor Amber and I in May of 2016 prior to our return to Endurance. They have been my sponsors ever since.
The fact that you self-published your book is amazing, and at 21!
What were the challenges of writing and publishing your book?
First of all, thank you! That's very kind of you to say. Well it never started off as being a book. Terri Hill (our livery owner who took over all of Amber’s nursing) and I discussed writing down everything that we had done (basically all of our tips and tricks) should we ever be faced with a situation like this in the future with another horse or pony.
So that’s how it started, outlining all of the things we did to try and tackle Amber’s injury and illness and how we coped with doing this ourselves. I started this in around December 2016. Once I started writing everything down I began to realise that this was more than a list of tips and tricks and more of a story so that’s how my book, Forever Amber, came to be! So no my intention was never to write a book, it just so happened that I had more to say than I realised! I think the main challenges were sticking with it, particularly in the summer when going out riding seemed far more appealing! But I’m pleased that I did stick with it!
Amber's recovery sounded so tough - aside from your love for Amber, what kept you going?
This is a great question and really hard to answer! I’ve always been quite determined and I think during the lowest of lows, there was one point where I really did just want to give up, but Terri Hill wouldn’t let me. I think I was incredibly fortunate at the time to have such supportive and determined individuals around us.
Our vets from B&W Equine Vets (Duncan, Sam and Amy) were just incredible and so positive throughout that we could do this, or at least try to do this. I think everyone had a brief thought of giving up at some point or another along the journey but luckily we all took turns having this thought/feeling so the rest of us could pick each other up and carry on.
Not to mention the fact that none of it could have been possible without my parents. My dad and my sister Claire drove down from Edinburgh (where they work) to Bristol to see Amber and I, and to help, and my mum made several trips down from Cheshire to help where she could. None of what we did would have been possible without anyone mentioned above. I am certain of that!
How many copies of your book have you now sold?
Book sales have completely gone above and beyond my expectation and I’m really excited that some of the hardback copies will be being stocked in our local tack shop, Alsager Saddlery in Cheshire (Amber and I moved back to Cheshire after my placement from University was completed in Bristol) which is great! I think in total I’ve sold 87 e-books and around 20 hard back copies. We’re also hoping to try and shoot a trailer for the book in the summer in preparation for our year anniversary (18th September 2017) when we first launched the book. So there are a lot of exciting things in line for the future and I can’t wait to see how things progress next!
Buy the book!
For loads more photos, updates and information about Amber, Katy and their awesome journey, or to buy the book Forever Amber, CLICK HERE.