Welcome to Graycliff Farm. This magnificent property, featured on Luxequestrian, encompasses 115 acres of fields, Lake Winnebago waterfront, and exceptional equestrian facilities. Quality of life is paramount at this unique estate, as reflected in the diverse recreational opportunities for horse, rider and family. Winston Churchill was quoted “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” As the owners shared their memories of life at this fine estate, a theme remained constant: horses have enhanced every aspect of their lives, at the property and beyond.
Home to two World Champion Morgans, the owners of Graycliff Farm have worked diligently to maintain the favorable attributes of the Morgan breed, while improving the horse with every generation through their renowned breeding program. Amidst the lush grass, large paddocks and stunning facilities, champions of tomorrow are bred, raised and trained with expert precision. Designed with the horse in mind and a rich lifestyle diverse with opportunity, the property reflects the highest of standards, embodied in every detail from horse to home.
Learn more about this special property, directly from the owners.
•Why Stockbridge, Wisconsin?
When we bought the farm, our business was located in a nearby city. We wanted to live in the country but have easy access to the culture and amenities of urban life. This property is perfect for that.
•How long have you been at the property?
We bought the land in 1990, and then built the house and stable. We moved in 1993, July 4th specifically because we could see the fireworks from four cities across the lake from our rear deck. Every day, we enjoy the peace and serenity here: having coffee on the front porch when the sun is coming up and wine on the back porch when it’s setting across the lake. Wildlife visits frequently, and the beautiful, gnarly trees surrounded by close-cut grass add tie to the area’s history.
• Share the evolution of the property.
The property was in a state of disarray when we bought it. It was being farmed but the post-and-beam farmhouse and most of the outbuildings were in poor condition. We visited several horse farms in different parts of the country looking at different layouts and workflows. We are in the design business so aesthetics was important, but anyone who has an equine operation knows efficiency is critical. Our paddocks are situated so that horses can be walked from east, west and north barn exits right into an easy turnout space. All of the fencing is PVC: eight of the paddocks are four-rail and one is three-rail.
The barn was sited to take advantage of the breezes off the lake from the west. The main stable area is heated, and the aisle is asphalt with brick pavers; dust is minimized and it’s easy to keep clean. The indoor arena is attached to the stable, and a viewing lounge lets visitors watch arena activities from a safe distance. We have cameras in three stalls that are linked to the TVs in the house so we can watch a mare getting close to foaling or monitor a sick horse. Because we are primarily a breeding farm, adjoining walls of all the 12’x12’ stalls are removable giving each mare and foal a 12’x24’ space. We renovated one of the original buildings, the old plank-and-stone dairy barn, and use it for equipment and hay storage.
Also, the property has some wonderful old trees. I’m a sucker for a tree-lined driveway so we sited the house for privacy and a very pretty entrance.
•What makes your property special (with regards to equestrian amenities) compared to other facilities in the region?
Lake Winnebago is quite large, but there is very little lake frontage left available for purchase and development. We have nearly 1000’ of unspoiled lakefront. As the property slopes back from the lake, it is crossed by the Niagara Escarpment and sections of limestone cliffs. The Niagara Escarpment is an exquisite natural wonder that forms Niagara Falls and runs westward through Canada and some of the Midwestern states. On its south side, our property borders a beautiful, quiet, 300-acre County Park noted for the Indian effigy mounds left by early settlers. We have tremendous trail-riding opportunities. The barn and paddocks are situated where the land has a gentle roll. Because of the area’s limestone content, we have similar soils and grasses to Kentucky. We aren’t boaters but a dock and boathouse could be added.
•Have celebrities, top equestrians, clinicians, or other famous individuals visited the Farm?
Several top trainers in the Morgan horse show world have visited the farm. Abraham Lincoln’s name is supposedly on the original land deed as he was involved with the transfer of the Indian tribe that settled the area. We also consider the Morgan horse himself to be famous because of its illustrious history – the first true American breed by bloodlines, the mount of presidents, the cavalry horse of choice, the lone survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn, and the model for the trotting-horse weather vane.
•Please share the history of the Farm, the vision, and the goals for the property and its activities.
The property consists of two equally sized parcels that were used as a dairy and crop farm before we purchased the land. The house and horse facilities are on one parcel and the adjoining parcel is dedicated to crops. This side of the lake is quite beautiful with bluffs, rolling hills, and woodlands, as well as county and state parks, marinas, and golf courses. Although we’ve enjoyed the estate as a private horse breeding operation, it would be ideal for an equine community or family compound. Our vision has always been to be recognized as a farm that produces world-caliber Morgan horses and as an enjoyable place to visit.
•Kindly share a special memory of the property.
In 2005, we held a “Celebrate the Morgan” equine event on the farm with over 300 people in attendance. There were demonstrations of the dressage, hunter, western, driving, etc disciplines and several clinics. The most popular clinic was an animal communicator / whisperer and an aromatherapist. She asked us to nominate one of our horses for the “communication”. I enlisted my retired firstborn, Graycliff Jumby Bay, known affectionately as “Jumbo Shrimp” by his former trainer. The whisperer met Jumbo moments before her clinic was to start and wanted to know nothing about him but his barn name. I was a little skeptical and remained so twenty minutes into her clinic as Jumbo chewed on her pant leg but otherwise ignored her. Then Jumbo communicated something to the effect that he was better than sixth place in Oklahoma. When she relayed this to the crowd, I was floored – Jumbo and I had made only one trip together to the World Championship Morgan Horse Show in Oklahoma City years before where we took sixth in our driving class! Apparently, he then felt comfortable enough with the whisperer to open up more fully, telling her he had “no purpose” and playing the victim card convincingly. One woman was moved to tears and two others offered to buy him. The next day Jumbo and I went for a quiet walk where he was appointed Herd Supervisor and given a whiff of his favorite scent, angelica and saffron root.
•How have your business, life, and endeavors evolved while at this farm?
In the early 1990’s we bought a two-year-old Morgan stallion, Pot of Gold. He changed our lives. The following year, he won the coveted World Champion Stallion competition. That moved us from casual riders to “show people” and he became the foundation stallion for the breeding business we started subsequently. We went from owning one small business to owning two and ventured into a whole new realm of friends, “horse people”. My office is now in the house and if I’m having a bad day, I can walk across the yard and look into the big, soft eyes of a beautiful horse and get my priorities straight.
•How has the equestrian lifestyle enriched your life?
Horses have changed our lives for the better. I can’t imagine life without a horse. We’ve met many wonderful people, people of every ilk – those who can afford to buy anything they want – to those who put their vet bills before their own needs. Horses are wonderful for families, teaching kids sportsmanship, responsibility, and hard work. Watching a family who has mortgaged the farm so to speak to haul their own horse from Oregon to the world championship in Oklahoma City, made their own clothes, qualified to show, and then actually win, is truly a moving experience.
•Please feel free to share any other information/stories you feel would highlight the property.
People in my age bracket grew up watching westerns on TV and seeing National Velvet at the theater, reading Black Beauty and My Friend Flicka, and seeing horses actually used for work. Today, horses are less visible in daily life and are more of a luxury. One of the reasons we enjoy the breeding aspect of horse ownership is because it gives us the opportunity to broaden the base and expose more people to these phenomenal animals. Our operation is small and we aim for quality – like purchasing stars such as Merriehill Black Betty to add to the broodmare band. It is very gratifying to have visitors to the farm and pair a young girl with her first horse, because it is going to change her life.
The privacy and protection offered through exceptional design, layout and land use is unparalleled. The essence of the horse, in this case the famous Morgan, graces every aspect of this special property. Fields and waterfront merge, fencing accents new life between mare and foal, and World Champions watch as the up and coming generation acquires new skills in the ring. Graycliff Farm is as unique an offering as the opportunity to call this property home for you and your equine partners.
Though he made his famous statement many years ago, Winston Churchill’s famous words transcend generations and stand for a universal truth: The horse is good for man, and woman.