Horses have served multiple purposes on Cuyahoga Valley farms. Horses have pulled carts and ploughs, taken tourists on carriage rides, been raised and sold, been boarded for other owners, and become beloved companions for farm children.
Peggy and Tress Pittenger devoted much of their lives to raising, selling, and boarding horses at their farm, Blackacre, on Quick Road. Peggy worked hard to turn Blackacre into a thriving horse breeding business, while also writing popular books on how to raise horses. Peggy, Tress, and their three children learned that a successful horse farm requires hard work, persistence, and a little good luck.
In 2011, their son David Pittenger composed a history of his family farm for the National Park Service.
In Their Own Words
Hear stories about Cuyahoga Valley life below.
Philip Urbank, who grew up on Quick Road, tells a story about Peggy Pittenger and her horses.
The 100 acre farm that was beside our house, that Mr. Cook lived in, that later it was purchased by a Tress and Peg Pittenger. And she was a horse person, raised in town, and she got the farm and first thing she got a couple horses and enjoyed them. Then she got enthused about raising Morgans and she bought some Morgan mares. And my brother Jack and her bought a Morgan stallion between 'em. Jack would take care of the stallion and handle it so she wouldn't get hurt and she raised up quite a few Morgans but she didn't have much of a market for them. So she went to the race track and bought some old thoroughbred mares that were past their prime and a couple of stallions and started raising thoroughbred foals. And at the barbershop I used to go to, the one barber was a thoroughbred trainer and his old buddies would be in there that were thoroughbred training, and they kept saying, "Oh, Peg is breeding junk to junk. She'll never have any good horses." And they used to—since Tress was a lawyer they named their horses different legal names and they raised a big gelding and named him "Burglary." And he was burning up the tracks and winning the big purses and stuff. So the next time I saw the old cronies in the barbershop, I says, "Oh Peg's breeding junk to junk. She's never gonna have anything." And they say, "Oh boy, we called that one wrong!"
Until recently, Ronnie Meyers and his father Willis bought, sold, and trained Belgian horses for special competitions.
He had some good horses that we was hired to beat when we went to the fairs. When they seen us coming why ~laughs~ they knew they wasn't gonna win anything. We used to go to the fairs and maybe show five or six classes and win every one of 'em.
At the Carriage Trade Farm, owner Wade Johnson continues his grandfather's tradition of raising horses and offering sleigh and hayrides near Brandywine Falls.
First speaker: When I moved to the farm, I bought a carriage that was sitting in the yard of a neighbor as a yard ornament, and I restored that carriage. That got me very interested in the restoration for horse-drawn vehicles and I made a side business of buying and selling and restoring horse-drawn carriages for a number of years. Actually, I injured my back on the farm and ended up herniating two of my disks in my lower back and had to have surgery. And I traded one of my carriages to the surgeon for the surgery. ~laughs~
Second speaker: ~laughing~ That doesn't happen very often!