Roeliff Jansen first crossed the Taghkanic Hills in
1630 and descended into the eastern Hudson Valley, he
discovered a broad, flat plain with lush grass over
limestone soil drained by three important tributaries
of the Hudson River. These streams, the Wappinger’s
Creek, Shekomeko Creek, and the Roeliff Jansen Kill,
all originate near what is now called Pine Plains.
The local Mohican Indians favored this place and when
the first permanent settlers in the region, Moravian
missionaries, arrived in 1740 to Christianize the Indians,
they built their bark church near the Indian village
of Shekomeko on what is now Berkshire Stud.
The settlers that followed were also drawn to the area,
quickly realizing the lush grass and limestone soil
were excellent for grazing livestock. Drovers stopped
on their way to New York City to fatten their cattle,
and horsemen, too, saw the benefits.
1796, MESSENGER, the first important English
Thoroughbred stallion imported into the young United States,
stood at Pine Plains where he remained for three seasons
and covered several hundred mares.
influence of that stallion is profound in both the breeding
of Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds. The incredible HAMBLETONIAN
was a grandson of MESSENGER, inbred to
the stallion 3X4X4. In fact, every Standardbred that has
ever trotted or paced under two minutes traces to him. Among
Thoroughbreds, MESSENGER was the broodmare
sire of the American ECLIPSE.
Other great Thoroughbreds to carry his blood include DOMINO,
MAN O’ WAR, GALLANT FOX,
SWEEP, and EQUIPOISE.
The fame of horses raised in Pine Plains was well known,
and the small town had its own racetrack through much of
the 1800s. In 1916, Oakleigh Thorne and partners grouped
together large parcels of land, including what is now Berkshire
Stud, and began breeding Angus cattle in the name of Briarcliff
Farm. Briarcliff raised and showed innumerable national
and international Angus cattle champions until the farm
was broken up in the later 1940s. Most of the land remained
as smaller farms raising Angus cattle until the early 1980s
when land taxes and the economy had forced most of them
1983, the first parcel of land that was to become
Berkshire Stud was purchased. Since that time, it
has continued to grow, and the farm now encompasses
more than 550 acres. In addition to Berkshire Stud,
five other major Thoroughbred breeding farms call
Pine Plains home. We are proud to carry on the long
tradition of raising great Thoroughbreds here. Bred
in New York, bred for the World.