Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Breeding European draft horses in Brooksville results in rare stock

Joyce Concklin of Clover Oaks Farm puts a bridle on Simba DuPont de Tourney, an Ardenne stallion. Concklin knows of only seven Ardennes on the continent.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Joyce Concklin of Clover Oaks Farm puts a bridle on Simba DuPont de Tourney, an Ardenne stallion. Concklin knows of only seven Ardennes on the continent.

While Ocala is known as Florida's horse country, there's a pocket of Hernando County — back behind the scrub, approachable only on limestone roads, under shady oaks — engaged in an unusual horse enterprise: the breeding of European Ardennes. "They're a short, wide draft horse," said breeder-owner Joyce Concklin of Clover Oaks Farm, north of High Point in northwest Hernando. "They're heavy-boned, short-coupled, built for farming, built for strength."

But she mainly drives them, pulling carriages and carts in competitions and exhibitions. They also ride.

The Ardennes' legs look like pylons, their broad hooves almost gallon-sized, their backs broad, their hindquarters massive with muscle.

A Web page devoted to Ardennes states that they date to the Paleolithic Age. Roman emperors, including Julius Caesar, bred them, and knights of the Middle Ages found them strong and tireless charges, easily carrying the weight of men in full body armor.

But they are gentle. At Clover Oaks, each filly, mare and stallion pushed its head through the fence, seeking a muzzle nuzzle. Except for one. Five-year-old Katy de Chevemont buried her head in a hayrick, chowing down for the energy to produce milk for her 5-month-old filly, believed to be the first Ardenne born in North America.

"Possibly" she's the first, said Concklin. Since there is no North American registry for the breed, she can't be sure. She knows of only seven Ardennes on the continent: a gelding carriage horse in Florida, a logging gelding in Canada and her five-unit breeding herd. And she has done copious research.

Concklin's bay roan filly foal, COF Alexandra, carries the breed markings: black points on feet and ears, black tail, heavy legging feathers, shaggy coat and a double mane, meaning it falls to both sides.

Alexandra already has been sold to a horse enthusiast in Asheville, N.C. Ardenne foals command $15,000 to $20,000, Concklin said.

Alexandra almost didn't arrive as a purebred. Concklin and a friend, seeing another original European draft breed, the Brabant, at a horse expo in Ohio in 2003, were impressed. They traveled to Belgium to inspect the seed stock. Concklin's husband, Eugene, said he didn't want horses that big, up to 17 hands tall (a hand equals 4 inches). Joyce Concklin discovered the Ardennes and thought them "just right," averaging 15 hands tall, buying two fillies while her friend purchased some Brabants.

Back home, Eugene asked his wife to what would she breed her fillies. "The Brabant" of her friend, she replied. He demurred, and suggested she import an Ardenne stallion.

Joyce dashed to the phone and called Europe before he could change his mind. From two fuzzy photographs on the Internet, she selected Simba DuPont de Tourney, of champion bloodlines, as are all of her other imports. So expensive is shipping, she said, it doesn't pay to buy any stock but the best.

Concklin had been assured by the seller and shipper the stud would arrive by Christmas. He landed in New York on Dec. 21, 2007. Concklin got a call on Christmas Eve that he was in Ocala. She said her husband was a bit miffed that she insisted on driving to Ocala on Christmas morning to collect the colt.

Alexandra is the purebred outcome of Simba's coupling with Concklin's first imported filly, Katy.

Concklin is hopeful Simba has impregnated her other first-buy filly for a birth this year.

Concklin breeds stock at 4 years of age because they are still growing and will do so through 6 years of age. She doesn't want to impinge their growth by early breeding. At maturity, Ardennes will reach 2,200 to 2,400 pounds.

While the Ardennes are the rarest of Clover Oaks Farm inhabitants, also grazing there are a contingent of Norwegian Fjords, another European draft breed that Concklin has been breeding for 20 years. They are similar but somewhat smaller than the Ardennes, more dun-colored than roan. They ride and drive.

Concklin is pairing them with the Ardennes to teach the latter skills needed to pull a cart or carriage. Of Simba, still in teaching, she said: "He's a fast learner."

Concklin has been competing for several years in driving and conformation events at the Florida State Fair, where she will take to the ring again Feb. 10 and 11. She already owns a handful of ribbons.

She performs driving exhibitions annually at the Little Everglades Steeplechase in Dade City, coming up March 8.

Beth Gray may be reached at graybethn@earthlink.net.

Fast Facts

To learn more

You can learn more about Joyce Concklin's horses at www.cloveroaksfarm.com or call (352) 596-1907.

Breeding European draft horses in Brooksville results in rare stock 01/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 9:57am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears

    World

    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'

    War

    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]