Source: Gary Brock videoKaren Greene talks about why she loves operating her Clark County riding stables.
SOUTH CHARLESTON — The soothing clip-clop of the Clydesdale’s hoofs on pavement was the only sound heard on the country road near South Charleston.
Save the occasional birds chirping, the hooves of the massive black Clydesdale named Guinness created a rhythm for the ride he was giving, pulling the show cart around the road and property called Hillcroft Crescent Farm in Clark County. It’s owner, Karen Jordan Greene was proudly pointing out the riding trails and fields of soybeans on the 126-acre farm.
Her love of horses led her to purchase the historic Baylor Hill farm in 1989 and then built the equestrian facility Hillcroft Crescent Farm, LLC. “from the ground up.”
Her bond with horses comes as a result of her fight to overcome a debilitating obstacle more than half a century ago.
“When I was four, I contracted polio,” she said. That was in 1952. At age six she began riding horses. “That was the only thing they could put me in as physical therapy.” As Greene underwent her horse riding polio rehabilitation, her attachment to horses grew. It was that attachment that helped her beat polio.
“I began competing by the time I was 10. I competed professionally for 45 years,” she said while riding the horse-draw cart around her seven miles of riding trails. “That’s enough competing for anybody. I’m retired as a competitor now, but I have students who show and compete. I really enjoy the learning process.”
The farm where her equestrian center is located was first surveyed in 1798 as 1,000 acres given to Capt. Baylor Hill for his service in the American Revolution. A member of the Continental Light Dragoons horse regiment, Capt. Hill was captured and imprisoned by the British from 1781 until 1783. Greene said it has been a working farm for more than 215 years.
“We also grow crops on the working farm. We have about 45 acres of cropland, with corn and soybeans,” she said.
At the Hillcroft Crescent Farm stables, “I have two part-time workers, but I do a lot of the work myself, I am a one-girl band.”
She said the farm has not had a lot of owners since 1798; there have been a lot of long-term owners.
This year, in order to preserve the farm into the future, she said she worked with the Tecumseh Land Trust in Yellow Springs to provide an easement for the future protection and care of the historic farm.
“The farm becomes protected in perpetuity. The farm trust would protect the assets of a working farm. This keeps the farm a working farm. It is protective, not restrictive,” she pointed out.
Inside the stables, Greene walked along the row of horses, stopping and talking to each one. “We have 17 horses right now. This is Bella, a Shirecroft, who is 15,” she said, leading the horse outside for a walk. She teaches riding and provides riding lessons as well as giving instructions for those wishing to compete as riders.
“Most of my clientele comes and stays for a long time. My plan is to continue to serve the clients and provide a good service for them.”
One of the clients, Dan Marion drove the cart touring the farm and owns Guinness, the black Clydesdale.
“I think the Clydesdales are very regal. He is a lovely animal. I wish we could duplicate him,” with Marion agreeing.
“When we get time,” he said.
He and his family have horses at the facility and ride there regularly. The show cart and Guinness took part on the Lebanon Christmas parade last year.
As a successful professional rider and trainer, Greene was asked what about operating the stables she most enjoys.
“I love being able to help people and horses form a relationship they can work with. I have always loved animals, particularly horses. It was physical therapy for me as a child. I just feel an affinity with horses. I enjoy what I do because I feel I can make a difference, at least here in my little world,” she said, nodding toward her stables.
“It is rewarding. It is great to help animals and people both, and I love the process,” she added.
Riding along the horse trails, she talked about nature and maintaining the integrity of the farm through the land trust.
“We have lots of beautiful birds here. Red tail hawks, quail, wild turkeys… I have a Chocolate Lab that is very good with all the wildlife. We have red wing blackbirds, indigo bunting, goldfinch, orioles, kestrels, Eastern bluebirds, great horned owls. The wildlife tends to abound since no hunting or trapping is allowed on the property — my equine insurance forbid hunting because of all of the riding trails,” she said.
As the ride around her farm came to an end, she talked about her connection with her horses. “The thing with horses is that their aptitude for learning is very high. So we try to work with the horse the way the horse thinks, not the way the person thinks. So if you can think like a horse, you can teach the horse quite efficiently. So after all these years, I pretty much think like a horse,” Greene laughed.
Hillcroft Crescent Farm, LLC is located in Clark County near Clifton Mill. It is open 365 days a year, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The farm provides boarding, train riding, lessons and training for horses. Special needs horses are welcome. The farms does not provide horseback riding for the public.
“We take pride in offering a quiet, restful and loving home to horses and ponies who live here, and a warm and friendly atmosphere for their humans,” Greene said.
She said those interested can call 937-416-9661 for a tour.
Gary Brock can be reached at 937-556-5759 or on Twitter at GBrock4.