When 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.

In 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.
The 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 to close.

In 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.