MS-AS-5-HVDHA41Thirty-five years ago, a small group of draft horse enthusiast decided to form an organization dedicated to draft horse owners. Frank Castella was really the man who started it all. He worked closely with the Kriz Brothers in Bethany, CT.
In 1981 Frank and Karen Castella, Amos and Jude Holdsworth, Harold Fountain and Dr. Goodman, DVM, set out on an undertaking to promote draft horses in the Hudson Valley. On the second meeting of this organization, John Ingram became involved. He is our current president, and has been for several years. Without John and several other long time members, this Association would not exist. Today the HVDHA welcomes all draft animals that include horses, mules, and oxen and with a little luck, we will have some draft (pack) goats.
Today, Frank Castella displays his Warrior Wagon pulled by his team of Perchersons. Look for him at the fairs and other local events. Other members do Christmas wagon rides, hayrides at local events, sleigh rides, educational events, and much more.
Many of the original group is still active members. As most organizations today, we certainly will welcome some newcomers. As you can imagine the members are aging. The folks with the experience are the ones teaching the younger generation. You can learn firsthand by taking a Draft Horse Driving Class, which is offered once a year from January to April. Contact us for more information.
The goal of the Hudson Valley Draft Horse Association is to promote draft animals in the Hudson Valley, by communication with other draft animal enthusiasts, including horses, mules and oxen… and anyone else who will listen.
Over the years, the Hudson Valley Draft Horse Association has participated in many local events including plow days, corn harvests, Ulster and Dutchess County Fairs. For fundraisers there are an Annual Square Dance and sales at other events, such as the Orange County Farmers Museum and the Montgomery Tractor Parade, Hamptonburgh Country Festival and others.
The HVDHA is currently made up of 135 members. (Not Facebook members). Monthly meetings are held to discuss the up and coming events and plan new things. There is always a potluck lunch with some fabulous dishes.
When we hold events including the horses, mules and oxen the public is always amazed at the size of the animals and how gentle they are, to the point small children can pet them. They are truly gentle giants.
Our members are always eager to share their knowledge, skills whether for pleasure, work or education.   We would like to introduce young people, such as 4-H, FFA, Scouts and others to the world of livestock and farming. There is an abundance of information, just for the asking.
In 2016, The Hudson Valley Draft Horse Association will participate in the following:
April 30, 10-4, Spring Plow Day, Saunderskill Farm, Rt. 209, Accord, NY 12404. We plan to have several teams plowing, oxen exhibits including two young ladies: one rides her oxen; the other works her single ox. These gals are 8 years old and 17 years old. Other oxen, mule and horse teamsters (ages 8-80+) will be on hand, also. Vendors, wagon rides, live music, good food, kids’ activities, and more. This event is free to the public. Donations graciously accepted.
May 21, 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m., Annual Square Dance at the Ulster County Fairgrounds, 4-H Building. Live music and caller. Potluck dinner. Small entry fee. Pay at the door.
Aug. 2-7, Ulster County Fair, Libertyville Rd., New Paltz, NY 12561. There will be draft horses in the horse barn. On Friday, Aug. 5, all day, the horses and drivers will compete in the horse ring across the street from the main entrance of the Fair.
Aug. 23-28, Dutchess County Fair Rt. 9, Rheinbeck, NY. Many horse events take place during this week. The HVDHA will be there on Sunday, Aug. 28.
Sept. 24, 11-3, Corn Harvest, Saunderskill Farm, Rt. 209, Accord, NY 12404. The HVDHA will be harvesting corn with an antique corn binder pulled by horses. Other attractions will be Vendors, Wagon Rides, pumpkin painting, pumpkin picking, corn maze, live music and much more. Free admission. Donations graciously accepted.
For more information e-mail: or call 845-294-9016 or 845-657-2032. Our members do not have to own or have experience with livestock. Anyone with interest is welcome.