Bron Stark

Born Stark shows off Hexenhammer this month, a brood mare and show horse, whose neck is draped with a sampling of the show ribbons she has won. Stark said she wants Brookneal to recapture some of the stature it once held as a show horse destination -- something it could benefit from economically. (Photo by Don Richeson.)

BROOKNEAL — Brookneal is home to the world-renowned Trinity Appaloosa Farm. In 2014, the farm officially began representing American Sugarbush Harlequin Draft horses. At the time, there were only a few more than 12 horses of this breed, and the breed was in danger of extinction. According to a partner in the business, Brookneal’s Bron Stark, Trinity Appaloosa Farm is now one of a handful of breeders nation-wide who have increased the number of horses to around 150.

The horses are a cross between Appaloosas and the French draft breed Percheron. The American Sugarbush Harlequin Draft horses originated in Ohio with Everett Smith, “a carriage company owner who wanted a more striking horse to set his company apart,” said Stark. The Sugarbushes are “one of the few draft breeds developed in America,” Stark continued. A foal from the breed brings in $8,000 and up, depending on bloodlines, parents’ accomplishments, and overall quality. Stark has been working with a foal named Versailles in the farm’s program who is already very accomplished as a show horse.

The farm, located off Cook Avenue less that two miles from downtown Brookneal, is not a horse camp. Its focus is breeding, training, showing, and promoting its American Sugarbush Harlequin Draft horses. The business also offers consulting expertise. “For a long time, the Campbell County horse culture has been fading,” said Stark. She would like “to see more competitions and horse friendly events” in the area. 

People come from all over the world to see the horses at the Trinity Appaloosa Farm. Last year a client of the farm who owns property in Appomattox County and who worked in China as a physician brought guests from China to visit. One of those visitors had never even seen a horse. Stark usually suggests that guests stay at the Pruitt House Inn in Brookneal, which is only a half mile from the farm. She encourages visitors to make use of Brookneal’s restaurants and shopping, too.

Stark feels the best thing about the horses is their registry, the American Sugarbush Harlequin Draft Association (ASHDA). The registry works for the advancement of the breed through ethical means. The farm’s first ASHDA foal was born in 2013. One of the farm’s horses who has an easily accessible show record online is Hexenhammer, a brood mare and show horse.

Horses from the Trinity Appaloosa Farm have been shown world-wide, have won world championships, and have been inducted into the ASHDA Hall of Fame. Stark said the horses “are very smart, have kind minds, are good at problem solving, and learning on the fly.” She continued, “They are kind of the horse version of a service dog.” They are “versatile,” she said, pointing out that the horses can go from “being hooked up to a carriage, pulling a log or a pallet of hay, to competing in dressage, Western, or halter shows.”

(For the full story and more photos, be sure to pick up a copy of the March 4 print edition of The Union Star. It’s available NOW on newsstands throughout the greater Brookneal area.)