Draft Horses

Star-Knight Farms, breeders of English Shire Horses in Williamston, Michigan

Shire Horses in Williamston
á Star-Knight Farm also operates one of Michigan`s largest dressage boarding and training barns featuring the instruction and training of both horse and rider by Roz Kinstler.

1999 was Star-Knight Farm`s 15th anniversary offering beginning through upper level dressage training for horse & rider, and selected dressage prospects. Roz can be reached by calling 517-521-3986 or by writing to the Star-Knight Farm address listed above.

When Kristin and Vern Stark went into the horse business a decade ago, people told them that horses couldn`t be treated as a business.
They couldn`t imagine an operation with so many variables being handled any other way than in a sound business manner. They took a businesslike approach, and over a decade later, they still swear by that philosophy.

Kristin bought her first horse two weeks before completing her nursing training. The horse addiction lasted longer than the health care career. "I had wanted a horse since I was two years old. Maybe if my folks had got me a horse when I was young, I would have had it all out of my system by the time I graduated, rather than having to do it now.

Would she encourage others to go into the horse business? "NO! This is a labor intensive industry. The hours are long and demanding, the work is hard, the financial return is from iffy to minimal and it is all-consuming. It just never goes away. Would she rather do anything else in the world? "NO, but this is something you do just because you have to do it. The need to pay the price to be in this business requires a feeling that is deeper than anything that is logically developed.

The Red Cedar River neatly splits Star-Knight Farm in half in the midst of the mid-Michigan countryside, between the small farm town of Webberville and the quaint, antique-filled Williamston. Light horses hold center stage on the south side of the river, massive Shire horses hold forth on the north side.

The south side is affectionately called Rozland, after their

partner Roz Kinstler. At the airy, modern barn, stalls and tack rooms surround a generous indoor arena where some of the country`s top equine athletes and their riders perfect the art of dressage.

Kristin met Roz when she began taking dressage lessons in the early 1980s. Roz asked Kristin why she didn`t build her a barn on the property south of the river. Kristin and Vern built it and the three have been in business ever since.

What is a kid from New York City doing in the Midwest, training world class dressage horses from across the country? Roz caught the horse spirit when she was very young and began taking lessons when she was seven. "My folks would never buy me a horse so I started cleaning out stalls in exchange for riding time on the school horses". It is unfortunate that insurance costs have driven so many riding rentals right out of our way of life. Many young people are being cheated out of the opportunity to learn about horses because of this. Those rental places provided work for many older horses and those more mature animals helped teach the new riders what they should do.

Roz is "a rider, first and foremost. This is what I love to do. It takes a particular animal to be trained to the highest levels and to compete on the world stage. To do this, a horse has to have the physical strength, the mental ability, the disposition and the pure competitive desire to excel to ever succeed. Horses with such qualifications carry heavy price tags, yet without that kind of horse, a rider cannot effectively compete."

A few years after Star-Knight was founded, Kristin asked Vern, "What would you get if you could get any kind of horse you wanted?" Vern thought about it and decided he liked the way the Shire horse looked, its size, its motion and its disposition. When they bought their first Shire, there was only one Shire farm in Michigan.

The Shire operation is also the site of the Stark family`s home. Teenagers Jenny and Danny work with their parents in the never-ending round of maintenance, breeding, exhibiting, etc. It`s a place where dogged determination has defeated tragedy more than once. In September, 1992, a tornado touched down with no warning and destroyed the old barn at the home place. The barn, with a loft filled with the summer`s hay crop, killed Deighton Bomber, the outstanding young Shire stallion the Starks had imported from England only six months before. The family overcame the shock and disappointment to begin the search for another extraordinary stallion. They found him in Canadian-owned Grayingham Lucky Lad. Laddie became a "cult figure." appearing at horse fairs and expositions across North America. He was a model for a limited edition Breyer collectible horse, and he received fan mail from children and adults alike. Laddie died unexpectedly in August 1995 at the age of 13. Again the Starks grieved for the individual who had been a virtual partner with them and looked beyond the grief toward the future. Two excellent stallions preside over the breeding barn at Star-Knight -- Deighton Commodore and Fox Valley Maestro. One of Maeostro`s foals grazes quietly in the front paddock at the home place. In true Vern Stark fashion, he has named him "Newt", after the controversial Speaker of the House. A few years ago. Star-Knight invited friends and clients from over the years to a special dinner to help them celebrate 10 years in business, a pretty sterling record in the horse industry. As the years passed, Roz has become a national figure in dressage competitions, competing on the Florida dressage circuit during the winter months. Her students and clients have gone on to prestigious championships and accolades in the dressage world`s most glittering shows. Star-Knight Farm Shires and Shire crosses have gained recognition in all arenas of competition. from the draft horse world to the Sport Horse world. While Kristin. Vern and Roz may he recognized on sight in the high powered horse world, they still feel right at home at the little grocery store in Webberville, where the FFA kids go to school with the Stark kids and know only that they`re those people with the big horses. Business is business, but when Vern and Kristin go out to the fence and the horses flock around them, it is evident that the people and the horses enjoy one another`s company immeasurably.

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Star-Knight Farms, breeders of English Shire Horses in Williamston, Michigan

Simone Ward

Simone Ward - UK - Dressage Rider Simone