Thornapple Farm is a 55 acre farm in the foot hills of the Green Mountains. Located on a gravel road in New Haven, VT and owned by Pat And Cathy Palmer it is an intimate setting for the many guests who come to enjoy the horses and beautiful scenery. Cathy and Pat love to share their experience with and affection for the horses they raise, train and work.
Cathy grew up with horses of many types and learned to ride and drive as a youngster. Her father was a popular farrier with a superior eye for good horses and taught her how to step back and evaluate each of the horses she fell in love with, which was pretty much all of them.
Pat unsuspectingly , married into horses and at first was content to be a cheerful observer. For several years Cathy bought horses to school and re-sell. Pat was an interested helper but it wasn't until the fall of 1979 when they bought a two year old Belgian along with two saddle horses that Pat got the bug, HARD. Since then we have never been without draft horses.
In this area of Vermont nearly everyone with draft horses has Belgians but Pat and Cathy were fascinated by the beautiful dapple gray Percherons they saw at the Champlain Valley Fair and decided to purchase Percherons. It didn't take long to realize that the horses were going to have to help pay for themselves if they were going to keep them. It seemed a natural to offer wagon rides as a way to help defray the expenses of feed, Vet and foot care. Sleighrides soon were added along with the occasional wedding. At first rides were confined to the farm but as word of mouth spread they began to get requests to travel with the horses to various events. Suddenly they were in business. They began to seek out more ways to use the horses for work purposes.
In early 1979 Pat learned that the nearby village of Bristol was looking to contract out their trash and recycling pick-up. Pat had read about a trash collection business in Oregon and Cathy had seen the "Old rags and bottles" man on the busy streets of Lawrence , Massachusetts when she was a child. Pat thought , "why not horse drawn pick-up in Bristol?" The town manager was receptive to the idea and Pat was awarded the contract over three conventional bidders.
Their original pair of percherons, Luke and Zac, were probably the most photographed horses in Vermont once they started that route. They were on "Good Morning America", In the Boston Herald, The New York Times and the Draft Horse Journal to name a few. Chief and Spud have taken over the route since Luke and Zac were retired and are equally as good. They both work single and double and are at home hauling heavy trash loads or pulling a fancy carriage.
Seeing the well behaved horses on the streets of Bristol has lead to many requests for training horses from around the state. They use round pen training and all horses go single and double and are backed. In order to receive adequate individual attention only two horses are in training at a time.
Thornapple Farm is still growing with new trail systems being added and plans for more rotational grazing. Two new two year olds are in the barn waiting for their moment to shine. They've already been entertaining the many tour bus groups, who come for rides, with their antics in the pasture. Pat and Cathy invite you to come and share their respect for the working horse.