Elm Tree Farm
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 Share on Facebook RSS Feeds

Elm Tree Farm

Sign at Elm Tree Farm

Jackie “Jody” Huckabay, Jr. and his late father, Dr. Jackie Huckabay, founded Elm Tree Farm in Bourbon County, Kentucky in 1989. The property was once known as “Clark’s Station” and was built in 1784 by Dr. Robert Clark, a lieutenant in the Revolutionary War. It was home to Elizabeth Station, a part of the railroad which connected Frankfort to Paris and linked the mainline of “The Whiskey Route” which serviced many of Kentucky’s world-famous bourbon distilleries. 

The farm with only 112 acres, one barn, two fields, three paddocks, and a wheelbarrow has now grown to encompass 600 acres with eight barns, 125 stalls, numerous fields and paddocks, along with state-of-the-art facilities. The purchase of Elm Tree stemmed from the acceptance of a modest offer made by the elder Huckabay, but the decision to settle in Paris, Kentucky was part of a bigger plan.  As Jody and his father began looking at farmland, they gathered as much information as possible, including soil maps. When they learned that about the quality soil in Bourbon County, the Huckabays were sold.  They were both strong believers that the richness of the land plays an essential role in raising good horses.

Aerial shot of Elm Tree Farm

Today, Jody runs the farm in partnership with his wife, Michelle. While neither are native Kentuckians, they share a passion for Thoroughbred that brought them to the state.  Michelle, who is originally from North Carolina, always dreamed of being able to work with horses, and Jody, who grew up Louisiana, knew soon after seeing Kentucky that it is somewhere special.

“In 1981, I came to Kentucky with my father,” recalled Jody.  “As we flew in, we went over Calumet Farm, and I knew then that Kentucky was where I wanted to be.”

“For anyone who wants to be in the Thoroughbred business, this is the place to be,” Michelle added.

Elm Tree is named for Elmwood Farms Plantation, the Huckabay family homestead, in Harmon, Louisiana.  It has developed into a full service Thoroughbred operation, offering boarding and lay-ups, sales preparation and consignment, and bloodstock representation.  With the obvious growth of the operation, Jody recognized the importance of farm layout. He is quick to point out the significance of consultant Ron Wallace’s expertise in Elm Tree’s design.

Elm Tree sells between 50 and 60 horses throughout the year.  They breed 70 to 80 mares a year for clients in Canada and the United States as well as their own mares.  The farm is also home to a Hereford cattle herd with around 200 head and it produces its own hay, alfalfa, and bedding. The Huckabays also put a great deal of emphasis on land management – fertilizing, seeding, and field rotation.

Mares in one of the eight pastures at the farm

“There is no place in the world where you can raise an animal better than you can here,” said Jody. “This land is absolutely incredible.” 

The Huckabays pride themselves on treating every horse as if it were their own. While they race a few of their own horses, their main focus in on breeding and selling.  They take great pride in their clients’ successes and enjoy following farm graduates throughout their racing careers.  Notable graduates include five-time Grade 1 stakes winner YOU, 2011 Fountain of Youth-G2 winner SOLDAT, and graded stakes winner RUSH BAY.

One of the Huckabays fondest memories is about the first mare they bought.  Named ARDY ARNIE, owned in partnership with Dr. Stuart Brown, she produced a colt named GRAPESHOT who was sold as a weanling.  He went on to become a Group winner in Europe, returned to the U.S. and won a Graded stakes in this country, and in the twilight of his career he became a cast member in the movie Seabiscuit.

Weanlings grazing at Elm Tree 

Jody and Michelle discuss all aspects of the business together, but appreciate that they each have their own role.  A graduate from the University of Kentucky with a Master’s Degree in Animal Science, Jody oversees the management of the farm, including sales preparation, mating recommendations, and acquisition of seasons. Michelle, also a graduate from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science, handles the accounting, payroll, client billing and relations, horse record keeping, and coordinates the farm’s breedings.  They take pride in their hands-on management style and believe that it is important in order to communicate with clients.

The Huckabays are very family oriented and have passed their love of horses on to their two children.  Daughter, Caroline, is 17 years old and rides competitively in the hunter/jumper discipline.  She was the 2013 IEA National Champion in the Varsity Intermediate Flat and the 2013 IEA National Reserve Champion in the Varsity Intermediate Over Fences.  Son, Jack, is 10 years old and enjoys the cattle side of the business, but he recently sold a yearling for $250,000 in Florida which topped the sale.

For more information about Elm Tree Farm, please click here to visit their website.

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